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Obituary: Barry Newbery

After five years as an assistant with the BBC, Barry Newbery cut his teeth as a fully fledged television designer in 1962 on the wartime drama The Last Man Out and, the following year, the Jack Rosenthal co-authored single play On the Knocker for Comedy Playhouse.

Although he was to win a Royal Television Society award for his designs for Andrew Birkin’s three-part drama about JM Barrie, The Lost Boys (1978), and receive a BAFTA nomination for Prince Regent (1980), he will be best remembered as the longest-serving designer for Doctor Who.

Newbery joined the sci-fi series in its first season in 1963 as a replacement for Peter Brachacki, who had departed after disagreements with series producer Verity Lambert.

Newbery remained with the show until his retirement in 1984, designing more than 60 episodes for five incarnations of the Time Lord.

Initially reluctant to work in science fiction, Newbery shared responsibilities with Dalek designer Raymond Cusick, taking the lion’s share of the Doctor’s historical adventures from the Stone Age to Saxon England and from the Aztecs to the Arizona desert.

In 1976, he undertook the first substantial redesign of the iconic TARDIS.

Newbery ranged widely over the BBC’s output across three decades, including episodes of Softly, Softly, Z Cars, The Onedin Line, When the Boat Comes In, The Citadel, Sykes and Dad’s Army.

He also designed Harold Pinter’s A Slight Ache (1967), John McGrath’s The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1974) and Andrew Davies’ Dear Brutus (1981).

Born in London, he studied commercial art and electrical engineering before national service as an RAF mechanic.

Back in Civvy Street, he trained in fine art before becoming a designer of shop window and exhibition displays. He joined the BBC in 1957.

Barry Reginald Newbery was born on February 10, 1927 and died on February 25, aged 88. He is survived by two daughters.

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