Sydney Newman

Born in Toronto in 1917, Sydney Newman worked in the film industry, before joining the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as Television Director of Features and Outside Broadcasts, and later Supervisor of Drama. He came to Britain in 1958 after being appointed Supervisor of Drama at ABC Television, producing Armchair Theatre and devising The Avengers and Out of this World. In 1963 he took the post of Head of Drama Group at the BBC, bringing with him from ABC such new talent as Verity Lambert and Irene Shubik. Not so much a "new broom" as a turbo-powered industrial wet-and-dry vacuum cleaner, Newman restructured the whole department, especially dispensing with the old system whereby drama producers would also edit and direct their plays in favour of having separate producers and story (later script) editors, with the director being chosen by the former only after scripts were commissioned. This had already worked on Armchair Theatre, but proved unpopular with some BBC producers of the old school.

While at the BBC Newman devised The Wednesday Play, Doctor Who, and Adam Adamant Lives! for BBC1, while when the start of BBC in 1964 required a vast increase in his Department's output, the challenge was met with the likes of Thirty-Minute Theatre, Theatre 625 and Out of the Unknown. He left the BBC in 1967, returning to Canada the following year. He was Director of the CBC from 1972 to 1975.

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[Biography as submitted for inclusion in The Guinness Book of Classic British TV (1996, 2nd edition), with minor corrections]

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