Head of Drama
The Memoir of Sydney Newman
The memoir of the creator of Doctor Who and a legend in British and Canadian TV and film
A major influence on the BBC and independent television in Britain in the 1960s, as well as on CBC and the National Film Board in Canada, Sydney Newman acted as head of drama at a key period in the history of television. For the first time, his comprehensive memoirs — written in the years before his death in 1997 — are being made public.
Born to a poor Jewish family in the tenements of Queen Street in Toronto, Newman’s artistic talent got him a job at the NFB under John Grierson. He then became one of the first producers at CBC TV before heading overseas to the U.K. where he revitalized drama programming. Harold Pinter and Alun Owen were playwrights whom Newman nurtured, and their contemporary, socially conscious plays were successful, both artistically and commercially. At the BBC, overseeing a staff of 400, he developed a science fiction show that flourishes to this day: Doctor Who.
Providing further context to Newman’s memoir is an in-depth biographical essay by Graeme Burk, which positions Newman’s legacy in the history of television, and an afterword by one of Sydney’s daughters, Deirdre Newman.
Sydney Newman received the Order of Canada in 1991. Graeme Burk is the author of three books on Doctor Who; he lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Ted Kotcheff is the author of Director’s Cut, a memoir of his life directing more than 50 television shows and 20 films; he lives in Los Angeles, California.