Peter Richard Newman (4 June 1926-22 February 1975[1]) wrote the Doctor Who television story The Sensorites.

Prior to the release of Looking for Peter, a documentary on the 2012 DVD release of his serial, very little was publicly known about him. Accurate information was so scarce that even his year of death was disputed. According to Richard Bignell, there were rumours that he had committed suicide, possibly as early as 1969.[2]

Several new details have emerged, however, about his life. Thanks to this new scholarship, it is now known that he was born in Ilford in Essex, the same town in which he died. He was one of seven siblings and was of the "perfect" age for service in World War II. He served as a pilot in Burma during the conflict, which almost certainly informed his writing on the Hammer Studios war film, Yesterday's Enemy. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was, in the words of Hammer historian, Marcus Hearn, "Hammer's golden boy". He was commissioned for at least two more films after that, though neither was produced.

His relationship with Hammer was discontinued when he began demanding more money. Hearn believes that he effectively priced himself out of Hammer's budget.

Details about how he got commissioned for Doctor Who remain unfortunately opaque, but according to his youngest sister, he was quite proud to have written for the programme. (Although his sister recalls that the transmission broke down while he and his family tried to watch one of the episodes.) Nevertheless, his family believe that he was embarrassed by the costumes for the Sensorites themselves.

In any event, The Sensorites was his last screen credit. For the last ten years of his life, he remained prone to intense writer's block. His niece claimed to remember his room being filled with crumpled paper as he continued to try to write something.

Because he could no longer make ends meet as a writer, he was mostly employed in an art museum in his final years; a reference is made to him aiding a film crew at the museum on one occasion, but the documentary doesn't expand on this lead. It was at this museum where he slipped and fell down the stairs, hitting his head hard against a radiator. This caused a massive cerebral haemorrhage, from which he died. (DOC: Looking for Peter)

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Footnotes Edit

  1. Newman's official death certificate, easily visible in Looking for Peter
  2. In the documentary, Toby Hadoke is shown viewing an unidentified website that shows the incorrect 1969 death year.
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