English television producer, writer, story editor and actor Derrick Sherwin passed away on October 17th, aged 82. If you are not familiar with the name, Sherwin was the architect of a pivotal development in the evolution of Doctor Who.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the original broadcast (November 2nd, 1968) of an eight-part serial that Sherwin wrote for the show from a story by ophthalmologist and futurist Kit Pedlar. This serial featuring Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, Invasion, sets out Sherwin’s vision for an earthbound Doctor Who, heavily influenced by Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass serials, working with a specialist military force called U.N.I.T. (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce).
Against a backdrop of mysterious happenings at International Electromatics, viewers were reintroduced to Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Countney), now promoted to Brigadier, who is heading a taskforce charged with dealing strange occurrences. We also meet Corporal Benton (John Levene). U.N.I.T. in this incarnation has a global scope, working out of a snazzy aircraft.
Invasion has the distinction of being the first Doctor Who serial to have missing episodes recreated. The Cosgrove Hall animation sets a bar that hasn’t really been equaled on subsequent ventures of that sort.
Sherwin moved from Story Editor to Associate Producer then Producer for Patrick Troughton’s final serial, The War Games. He also produced the first season of Jon Pertwee’s Doctor Who, cementing the Time Lord as an exile. He puts in an appearance in Spearhead from Space as the attendant of the U.N.I.T. car park.
If you haven’t seen Invasion, go look it up on DVD or BritBox.