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Monday, December 13, 2010

Mervyn Haisman (1928-2010)

Mervyn Haisman, who died of heart failure on 29 October 2010 aged 82, was the co-creator of two enduring monsters for the Doctor Who TV show, the Yeti and the Krang. The actor-turned-writer had been invited to pen the first Yeti series after Who actor Patrick Troughton complained about the lack of Earth-based adventures. The 6-part story 'The Abominable Snowmen', co-written with Henry Lincoln (who later co-wrote The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which inspired Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code), proved popular and the pair created a second story, 'The Web of Fear', which transported the hairy monsters from Tibet to the London underground. Here they encountered another character, Col. (later Brigadier) Lethbridge-Stewart, played by Nicholas Courtney, who was to become a regular part of the show for the next 21 years and, more recently, appeared in the Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Haisman and Lincoln penned a third adventure, 'The Dominators', which introduced the robotic Quarks. The Quarks went on to star in a Doctor Who comic strip adventure in TV Comic which led to arguments between Haisman, Lincoln and the BBC over who owned the comic strip rights to the creatures. Haisman and Lincoln, like the Yeti and the Quarks, were not employed on the programme again.

Born in Woolwich on 15 March 1928, Mervyn Oliver Haisman won a scholarship to RADA and entertained troops in Germany whilst doing his national service after the war. After a period of repertory, he worked for the Sun Life insurance company, occasionally acting in TV dramas. He found greater success as a writer, working on episodes of Dr Finlay's Casebook, The Expert, Hadleigh, Warship and other shows. With his writing partner Lincoln he also wrote the screenplay for the Tigon movie Curse of the Crimson Altar, starring Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee.

After splitting with Lincoln, he went on to write episodes of Crown Court, Oil Strike North, The Onedin Line, Squadron and Howard's Way. He also scripted the 10-part Jane, based on the adventures of the Daily Mirror's comic strip character portrayed by Glynis Barber, and the movie Jane and the Lost City starring Kirsten Hughes. He was also the script editor on a number of television shows, notably Sutherland's Law and Jubilee.

Haisman retired to Spain in 2001 with his wife. He is survived by two of their three children.

Obituaries: The Guardian (9 December).


Ade Salmon said...

A slight correction Steve - Curse Of The Crimson Altar was a Tigon film production not a Hammer.

Great piece!


Steve said...

Hi Ade,

Thanks for the correction.

Chad said...

Mervyn was a great man. RIP Grandad x x x