Bernard Wilkie

Last updated 09 January 2020

Bernard Wilkie

Born: Saturday 27th March 1920
Died: Thursday 2nd May 2002 (age: 82)


Bernard Wilkie was the visual effects designer on six Doctor Who stories during the Second and Third Doctor's eras. 

His initial training was as a draughtsman and an engineer at the air ministry. He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Having gained experience during the war of lighting stage shows, as well as creating props and scenery, he joined the BBC in 1948, working with the corporation's research department for six years. In 1954 he co-founded, with Jack Kine, the BBC Visual Effects Department, the first TV special effects unit in the world. Wilkie continued with the BBC for another 24 years, during which the Visual Effects Department continued to expand in size and expertise, working on numerous shows of all descriptions. 

He enjoyed imparting his knowledge and experience, which included writing a book, The Technique of Special Effects in Television, which gained worldwide influence and notoriety in the field, and his appearance on an episode of "Pebble Mill" (1973) in December 1973, during which he introduced viewers to some of the various masks, props and effects his department had been responsible for.

He also worked on a number of other notable BBC series, including Out of the UnknownNot So Much a Programme, More a Way of LifeStory ParadeJane EyreThe MonstersGreat CaptainsBeauty and the BeastHands Across the SkyBBC Sunday-Night PlayThe Three PrincesThe History of Mr PollyQuatermass and the PitHuntingtowerQuatermass IIThe Quatermass Experiment

After leaving the BBC, he moved into writing for German television, where he worked as a comedy scriptwriter and director. After that, he returned to writing for British television. His worldwide reputation as a pioneer of visual effects earned him continued work towards the end of his life, contributing articles to magazines and giving talks.