Graham Williams

Last updated 09 January 2020

Graham Williams (1945-1990)
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Graham Williams

Born: Thursday 24th May 1945
Died: Friday 17th August 1990 (age: 45)


Graham Williams was a British television producer and script editor, whose was producer of Doctor Who from 1977-1980, responsible for 72 episodes.

Williams worked as script editor for The View From Daniel Pike (1971), Sutherland's Law (1973), Z-Cars (1975-1976) and Barlow at Large (1975) before joing Doctor Who as producer. 

He was appointed to the role by Bill Slater, then BBC Head of Serials. He followed Philip Hinchliffe, who had been responsible for one of the  most successful periods of the show's history, but who had been criticized for the levels of violence. 

Williams was instructed by BBC drama bosses to tone down the violence. Williams later said of his time on Doctor Who: "It all went wrong right from the start, when I was told to make the show more funny, and less violent. Unfortunately, this would have required a lot of money, of which we had practically sod all. Tom Baker, however, thought it was a splendid idea, and kept putting in all these bad puns and terrible jokes, which didn't get any better when I brought Dougie Adams in."

Although the viewing figures dipped somewhat during Williams' first two seasons, they remained fairly healthy and in 1979, the series achieved ratings as high as 16.1 million viewers - although this was partly attributable to the strike which took ITV, the BBC's main competitor, off the air.

Williams also wrote significant portions of the script for two stories beset by writing problems, City of Death and The Invasion of Time.

During his period on the programme, Williams worked closely with three script editors: the experienced Robert Holmes; Anthony Read; and Douglas Adams, who penned some of the most well-regarded stories of the Williams era and who went on to write hugely popular novels and scripts such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Williams left the series after three years, handing over to John Nathan-Turner who had worked under him as Production Unit Manager.

During Nathan-Turner's reign as producer, Williams was approached by script editor Eric Saward to write a story for Colin Baker's second season. The script was at an advanced stage when it was abandoned, as were all the scripts initially commissioned for that season, after the series was put on hiatus in February 1985. In 1989 Williams wrote a novelisation of his story, The Nightmare Fair.

In 1985, he helped design the Doctor Who text video game Doctor Who and the Warlord.

His work on the series is examined in some detail in the documentary 'A Matter of Time' (included in the 2007 BBC DVD release of The Key to Time series), which includes excerpts from two interviews with Williams, conducted at 1980s Doctor Who fan conventions.

He left the BBC in the early 1980s and went on to produce drama series for ITV, including Supergran, before leaving television in the late 1980s to run a country hotel in Tiverton, Devon.

He died in a shooting accident at that hotel on 17 August 1990. He left a widow, Jacqueline, and three children.