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Derek Martinus

Television director.

Born: April 4, 1931; Died: March 27, 2014

Derek Martinus, who has died aged 82, was a television director who was responsible for some of the best-known episodes of Doctor Who in the 1960s and 70s. He directed the first appearance of the Cybermen in the William Hartnell story The Tenth Planet and the first appearance of Jon Pertwee in the role. He also directed many other cult television shows including Z Cars and Blake's Seven.

He was born in Ilford, Essex, and after attending Brentwood School, did his national service in the RAF. His ambition was to be an actor and he moved to America and trained at Yale Drama School, where he studied acting and direction.

After returning to the UK, he worked as an actor in repertory before securing a few minor roles in films including the first Carry On picture in 1958, Carry on Sergeant, which starred Hartnell.

By the late 1950s, he was also working as a director and while on a tour of Sweden met his future wife Eivor. They began working together on theatre productions and Eivor translated many of the stage plays he directed. His theatre credits in Sweden included Volpone, The Homecoming and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

His first work on Doctor Who was in 1965 when he was asked to direct the story Galaxy 4 about the battle between a race of beautiful blonde women and a race of deformed monsters (the monsters turn out to be the good guys).

The following year, he was asked to direct The Tenth Planet, which was a crucial story in the history of Doctor Who. Not only was it the first appearance of the Cybermen, it was Hartnell's last story and Martinus had to come up with a way of showing the transformation into Patrick Troughton using only fairly primitive television technology.

In the end, he was happy with the results. "We were trying out new techniques," he said, "and I can picture now that gasp of joy as that changeover actually worked. It was most important as it had to be good for the sake of the future of the show, which was far from certain then."

Martinus also had to tread carefully with the show's departing star, Hartnell, who had a reputation for being difficult. "He knew I was the new boy and he wasn't slow to remind me how many hundreds of films he'd done and how many directors he'd advised on how to get the shots," said Martinus. "One did have to tread very carefully with him but he warmed to me and I to him."

Later, Martinus directed another significant show in the series: Spearhead from Space in 1970 which featured Pertwee's first appearance as The Doctor and was also the first show in colour. In all, he directed 26 episodes of the programme between 1965 ad 1970.

Looking back on his time on Doctor Who, he said the Daleks had been the trickiest to get right (he directed them in Evil of the Daleks in 1967). "If you shoot them without care they do look rather tame and ordinary," he said. "You had to build up a Dalek's entrance. I used to make them lurk in the shadows."

Away from Doctor Who, Martinus directed several other long-running series including United, Z Cars, Angels and Blake's 7. He also worked in children's television, directing programmes such as The Paper Lads and Dodger.

His daughter Charlotta said having a father who worked on Doctor Who made for an amazing childhood. "We used to go down and watch Doctor Who being made and see the Daleks, and even get inside the Daleks," she said. "Jon Pertwee would come for tea."

Martinus is survived by his wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.

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