Doctor Who Directors

Directors–the visionaries behind the camera. I started watching Inferno and was reminded just how much I love Douglas Camfield. He was good at directing action and keeping a tight pace. Even in a seven (or eight) part story, his stories just crack along.

Doctor Who has accumulated a large number of directors over the years, some better received than others. From a show that developed in the 1960s these men and women helped contribute to the visual style behind television production. I thought I’d take a moment today to share my favorite Doctor Who directors. Which are your favorites?

  1. Douglas Camfield – As mentioned before, he is good with action and pace. I don’t think there are any stories he has done that I’ve disliked.
  • Planet of the Giants – “Crisis” episode
  • The Crusade
  • The Time Meddler
  • The Daleks’ Master Plan
  • The Web of Fear
  • The Invasion
  • Inferno
  • Terror of the Zygons
  • The Seeds of Doom
  1. Waris Hussein – The first director for Doctor Who, Waris Hussein help shape the visual style of the show. He didn’t direct many episodes, seven of which have been lost, but his input helped make the show a success early on.
  • An Unearthly Child
  • Marco Polo
  1. Graeme Harper – I love that when Doctor Who returned in 2005, Graeme Harper was brought in to the director rotation. Where Harper is concerned, I love his use of sound, from using machine gun fire rather than sci-fi laser sounds, to pulling back on the music for dramatic effect.
  • Warrior’s Gate (uncredited)
  • The Caves of Androzani
  • Revelation of the Daleks
  • Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel
  • Army of Ghosts / Doomsday
  • 42
  • Utopia
  • Time Crash (mini episode)
  • Planet of the Ood
  • The Unicorn and The Wasp
  • Turn Left
  • The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End
  • The Waters of Mars

8 thoughts on “Doctor Who Directors

  1. Some good choices there, all of which I’d agree with. I would probably also add Peter Grimwade who made some really technically excellent serials (Earthshock immediately leaping to mind).

  2. Great post, and great choices. I also agree with Aidan Brack’s suggestion of Peter Grimwade. And, as far as Warrior’s Gate goes, I don’t know how much of it was Graeme Harper, and how much was credited director Paul Joyce, but whoever did what, it was a visually stunning story. I really like the opening tracking shot inside Rorvik’s spaceship during the countdown to takeoff, the tossed coin freezing in mid-air, and then seeing it come crashing down as everything explodes.

    1. It would be fascinating to know which elements belonged to any given director/writer. “Warrior’s Gate” is one story that would be fun to know. Likewise, I wonder how much of “Genesis of The Daleks” was Terry Nation and how much was Robert Holmes.

  3. Douglas Camfield had been an Army officer before he became a tv director, and Barry Letts recalled that Doug arranged his filming schedules with military precsion, and ran the filming like a military operation, from the logistics point of view, with every aspect of the day’s shooting pre-planned and timed to the minute.

    I actually met him. The overwhelming impression was his extreme physical similarity to Jon Pertwee. They could have been brothers – the same vast height, the same boufant hairstyle of the 1970s glam rock era, the same hair colour, the same booming voice, the same mischievious sense of humour.

    He looked every inch an Army officer, and would have made a good casting choice for the role of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart ~ if he had looked a little less like Mr Pertwee.

  4. Waris Hussein did not create the visual style for the show. Directors at the BBC did not have that power.

    That was the responsibility of the Designer, who was Peter Brachacki and, subsequently, Barry Newbery – see – or the scenic designer.

    Also, items such as the Daleks – and other props – were designed by the BBC’s Visual Effects department. The Department actually receives an on-screen credit on the first story, ‘An Unearthly Child’.

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