David Maloney

Director of 'Doctor Who' chillers


David John Lee Maloney, television producer and director: born Alvechurch, Worcestershire 14 December 1933; married 1960 Edwina King (died 2006; two sons, one daughter); died London 18 July 2006.

There were many ways to rattle Mary Whitehouse, who in 1964 started her campaign to rid television of sex, bad language and violence. The playwright Dennis Potter did it with The Singing Detective. The director Ken Loach provoked her fury with scenes of uninhibited factory women in the writer Nell Dunn's "Wednesday Play" Up the Junction, which the guardian of morals described as promoting promiscuity, although I recall Tony Garnett, Loach's producer, telling me just a few years ago that having Whitehouse "on the prowl" in fact provided an "added frisson" and guaranteed free publicity.

The television director David Maloney provoked her fury with a "crime" in the relatively uncontroversial area of science fiction. His skill at maximising the horror elements in Doctor Who, using devices such as slow-motion massacres, made the stories he worked on some of the most frightening in the programme's long history - and led to accusations that it was causing a bed-wetting phenomenon among the nation's young viewers.

This peaked with an end-of-episode cliffhanger in "The Deadly Assassin", a 1976 mini-serial starring Tom Baker as the Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, which showed his head being held under water in freeze-frame. Whitehouse complained that children would not know until the following week whether the Doctor survived and the power she held, as president of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, led to the still shot being cut on repeat screenings and, within a year, a new producer instructed to tone down the storylines.

Having joined Doctor Who as a production assistant in 1965, when William Hartnell - the first incarnation of the Time Lord - was still in the role, Maloney moved up to direct episodes (1968-77), working on eight stories starring Hartnell's successors, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Most notable was 1975's "Genesis of the Daleks", which featured the programme's first freeze-frame cliffhanger. Both the new script editor, Robert Holmes, and producer, Philip Hinchcliffe - not keen on yet more Daleks stories and steering the programme towards gothic, psychological horror in the Hammer Films vein - wanted to explore a darker side of the writer Terry Nation's creations, showing their Nazi-like origins. The result was a tale in which the Doctor is taken back in time to Skaro to prevent the Daleks' development, during a long war between the planet's two humanoid powers, and moments of violence that included Tom Baker convulsed in pain as an electric fence sends a current through him. Mary Whitehouse described it as "teatime brutality for tots".

But Maloney welcomed the new regime's changes, replacing the opening meeting of the Doctor and a Time Lord in a serene garden, as in Nation's original script, with a no-man's-land ambush - a homage to the director Ingmar Bergman's film The Seventh Seal. More practically, having struggled with shooting the Daleks on location in "Planet of the Daleks" two years earlier, he organised the filming schedule so that they would appear only in studio scenes.

Maloney went on to become producer of another cult sci-fi series, Blake's 7, responsible for the first three series (1978-80) of Nation's new creation, about an exiled revolutionary (played by Gareth Thomas) who takes over an alien spacecraft, which he renames the Liberator, and leads freedom fighters against the corrupt and brutal Federation in the third century of the second calendar. It was a typical example of "clunky", low-budget sci-fi television, but the gritty storylines and political undertones gained it a loyal following. Indeed, Maloney became a regular guest at Doctor Who and Blake's 7 fan conventions.

Born in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, in 1933, David Maloney was brought up by his mother and, at times, was fostered after his parents split up. He boarded at the Blue Coat charity school in Birmingham, was evacuated to Staffordshire during the Second World War and passed the grammar school entrance exam.

On leaving school, he became a journalist on the Birmingham Evening Dispatch and, after National Service in the RAF, decided to follow his love of theatre and experience in amateur dramatics by switching to acting. He trained at Birmingham Theatre School and made his professional début with the West of England Theatre Company, based in Exmouth, Devon. He then worked in repertory theatre in Oldham, Sheffield and Chesterfield, where he met his wife-to-be, Edwina King, an assistant designer, and acted in a West End production of The Gazebo (alongside Ian Carmichael and Moira Lister, Savoy Theatre, 1961).

Seeing opportunities in television, Maloney joined the BBC, starting as a production assistant, then becoming a floor manager on series such as The Forsyte Saga (1967), before directing Doctor Who and the 10-part adventure series Ivanhoe (starring Eric Flynn as Sir Walter Scott's knight, 1970), The Last of the Mohicans (with Kenneth Ives as Hawkeye and John Abineri as Chingachgook, 1971), its spin-off serial Hawkeye, the Pathfinder (a BBC co-production with US television, featuring Paul Massie in the title role and Abineri again as Chingachgook, 1973) and Woodstock (based on another Walter Scott novel, 1973). He also directed episodes of Paul Temple (starring Francis Matthews as Francis Durbridge's crime-novelist, 1969-71) and the police drama Juliet Bravo (1982).

As a producer, Maloney resurrected When the Boat Comes In to make a final, fourth series in 1981, four years after James Mitchell's stories of the poverty-stricken North-east between the wars had seen the Tyneside shipyard trade unionist Jack Ford (James Bolam) leave for the United States. A more worldly wise Ford returned to Depression-hit Britain, on the run from the FBI, in the middle of the Jarrow marches.

In the same year, Maloney realised his ambition to bring to television Douglas Livingstone's new, six-part adaptation of The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham's classic science-fiction tale about the world being taken over by moving, flesh-eating plants. Starring John Duttine, this much-admired downbeat version - more faithful to the original novel than the melodramatic 1962 film - had been kept on the back burner for two years until sufficient financial resources became available, thanks to a co-production deal with Australian and American television companies.

Maloney also directed two "Play for Today" productions, Eve Set the Balls of Corruption Rolling and Aliens (both 1982), as well as Michael J. Bird's six-part thriller Maelstrom (1985), about a woman who inherits a farmhouse in Norway from a mystery benefactor. On initially being told that Maelstrom would be set in the small Norwegian port of Alesund, where he had by coincidence once holidayed, Maloney surprised everyone with the response: "I know the place."

He subsequently switched to the ITV company Central Television, directing documentaries about Mogul miniature paintings, kite flying in India and the chef Ken Lo's return to his native China, as well as another produced by Zia Mohyeddin, Art of Darkness (1987), which traced how British art-collecting in colonial times was paid for in part by the Caribbean slave trade. Maloney also directed when Mohyeddin was in front of the camera presenting the magazine programme Here and Now and acting in the soap opera Family Pride.

Anthony Hayward

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power