One evening last week I took a break from my motions of nothingness to take some time to do some exploring on YouTube (a form of nothingness in motion, at times). I thought of Sydney Newman, the father, of a sort, of the long-running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. Quickly I found a 43-minute piece of film from 1966. "Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman discusses his career with CBC" is an excellent interview with the man who went on to initiate and guide two stellar British television programmes, Doctor Who and The Avengers. However, there is much more to the story than those two series.
Newman was born and bred here in the great city of Toronto ― great now, and, I'm sure, great in 1917. He followed his dream working as a successful commercial artist, and the money was good, but Newman eventually decided to go into film production. A stint at the NFB (National Film Board) led to him working in television at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). After producing several distinguished one-off dramas, including Arthur Hailey's Flight into Danger, a live-to-air presentation from 1956, and one starring James Doohan of later Star Trek fame, Newman was courted and hired by ABC Weekend TV in the U.K. with the brief to do equally outstanding television drama programmes, but for the British public. That he did. The BBC then convinced him to jump ship and the rest is history: Doctor Who.
While Who is discussed in very brief terms, "Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman" more importantly is an instructive insight on the issues of producing television and the dichotomy between serving the public as a public broadcaster with that of the business of drawing sufficient viewers to validate and sustain one's position as a fiduciary of television "arts and entertainment".