Victor Pemberton - Writer
||Victor Pemberton was an actor when a
friend suggested he try his hand at writing scripts after
he'd criticised a recent play.
His first science fiction material was a
submission to the BBC TV series Doctor Who in 1964 of a script
entitled "The Slide". Although it was rejected by then
script-editor David Whittaker, Pemberton re-wrote the material
(removing the Doctor Who characters) and submitted it as a one-off
radio serial. It was commissioned by future Doctor Who producer
Peter Bryant and was broadcast on the Light Programme from 13th
February 1966 to 20th March 1966. It starred Roger Delgado, Maurice
Denham and David Spenser. The serial was well received with the
public and famed film producer Milton Subotsky even went as far
as contacting Pemberton and the BBC with the idea of turning it
into a movie.
Victor's association with Doctor Who didn't end with his lack
of success with "The Slide's original script. He appeared
briefly (as an infected scientist) in the 1967 adventure "The
Moonbase" With Peter Bryant taking up the reign of Doctor
Who producer, Pemberton found himself drafted in for a number
of duties which included script-editing the classic "Tomb
of the Cybermen". It wasn't long before Bryant commissioned
him to write a story for the series. "Fury from the Deep"
was a heavily adapted version of "The Slide" with parasitic
seaweed and a North Sea oil refinery of the near future replacing
the sentient mud and Kent new town of the original. Again the
serial was an immense success and, although now missing from the
BBC's archive of Doctor Who since the seventies, the serial remains
one of the show's all time classics... No doubt, this is partly
thanks to Victor's vivid (and somewhat belated) 1986 novelisation
of the serial.
In 1970 Victor found himself at ATV drafted in to take over the
writing of the children's serial "Timeslip". The serial
had originally was only intended to run for six episodes and writer
Bruce Stewart was rapidly running out of ideas as the serial had
been expanded to twenty-six. Victor wrote the final episode of
Bruce's "The Year of the Burn Up" (Part 8/Episode 20)
and went on to contribute the coda six-part serial "The Day
of the Clone". Working from elements in the previous episodes,
it was Victor who came up with the series' most startling twists
involving the show's 'villain' Commander Traynor.
Still at ATV, Victor created another children's serial for Timeslip
star Spencer Banks and used many of the Timeslip production team.
This was "Tightrope" and ran for one series of 13 episodes
in 1972. As well as Spencer, it also starred David Munro and John
Savident (who is now most famous as Fred Elliot in Coronation
Street) It was set in the present day around the mysterious Redlow
Comprehensive School. Spencer played Martin Clifford a member
of the school's sixth form drawn into the world of espionage after
being knocked from his bike on the way home.
The early seventies also saw Victor contribute two serials of
the third and final season of the popular Thames fantasy series
"Ace of Wands". "The Power of Atep" saw the
hero Tarot come face to face with his evil twin in Egypt whilst
"Sisters Deadly" pitted the magician against a group
of hypnotised elderly spinsters. He also wrote scripts for the
ITV film series "The Adventures of Black Beauty" as
well as the adult crimes series, "New Scotland Yard"
with John Woodvine.
Victor wrote further serials for BBC Radio including: Eyes of
the Buddha (1972), Escape to Lhasa (1973), The Fall of Mr. Humpty
(1975), Night of the Wolf [with Vincent Price] (1975) and The
Trains Don't Stop Here Anymore (1978).
In 1976, Victor returned to Doctor Who and wrote a short 'radio'
version of series entitled "The Pescatons" which starred
Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Bill Mitchell. It was released
as an LP record on the Argo label and has periodically been available
to fans of the series ever since. (Victor even produced a short
novel version of it in the late eighties.) Victor followed this
with another children's story LP called Serefina about a young
whale. It featured Tom Baker and Joanna Lumley.
Victor also adapted an Edgar Wallace story for the BBC in 1983
entitled "The Case of the Frightened Woman" which starred
Warren Clarke, Tim Woodward and Virginia McKenna and was directed
by Christopher Menaul.
During the eighties, Victor found himself producing the British
segments for Jim Henson's Muppet venture Fraggle Rock. Fraggle
Rock was a worldwide venture. Each broadcaster that brought the
series supplied it own introductory segments. The British series
produced by Tyne Tees Television began with Fulton Mackay as the
keeper of a lighthouse under which the rock's Muppet-like inhabitants
sang, danced and generally played the fools. With Fulton's death,
the young Scottish actor John Gordon Sinclair took over. In the
final series the lighthouse keeper was played by former Brookside
star, Simon O'Brien.
Victor and his long time friend, David Spenser, formed the production
company "Saffron Productions" whose output included
a well-received Omnibus profile of the comedian Benny Hill which
was made in 1991 shortly before his death. Saffron also acquired
the rights to produce a sequel to the Timeslip series featuring
the original cast. Although Bruce Stewart wrote a treatment for
a new serial and Spencer Banks was approached to become involved
in it, the project fell through due to lack of backing.
In 1989, Victor wrote a series of semi-autobiographical radio
plays under the title "Our Family" This he adapted into
a novel and it became an instant best seller. Since then, the
majority of Victor's output has been novels of the family saga
genre. His novels include: "Our Family", "Our Street",
"Our Rose", "The Silent War", "Nellie's
War", "My Sister Sarah", "Goodnight Amy",
"Leo's Girl" and "Perfect Stranger".
His most recent novel is "Flying with the Angels" and
was published in April 2003.
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