Top critical review
Interesting Book About A TV Writer
on 7 May 2017
Biography of TV writer Robert Holmes, and a look back at his career writing for some of the best known TV programmes such as Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Bergerac and Shoestring.
There is plenty to enjoy and learn about in this detailed biography, for me there was a little too much detailing of plots and outlines for never commissioned TV shows, and that detracted from the narrative of the life of Holmes.
The story outlines used as interludes made navigating through the book a little harder than normal and really should have been appendices, I just skipped through a lot of these unmade TV shows.
Obviously the author had done a lot of research and went-to-town on setting down all possible dates and documenting any missed times for scripts, which became a little laborious. Richard Marson's biography on John Nathan-Turner (Both of whom do feature in this book) is a good example of how to better do this type of biography and concentrate on the narrative of a life and how the writer is trying to tell it.
It got better once on to the subject of Doctor Who and these were the most interesting sections around production battles, script development and BBC practices. I'm not sure I learnt anything more about how Robert Holmes would set about writing a script, there seemed to be little investigation of his writing method and thought processes. It seemed we had plenty of comment from Terrance Dicks, Barry Letts and other Doctor Who production personnel but I thought we could have had more out of them on how Holmes worked as a writer, rather than general debates around the portrayal of violence.
I also thought the book was let down in places by poor proofing, but of interest to those who want to know more about writing for television and certainly a most detailed depiction of a writers' life.