RIP Paddy Russell (1928 – 2017)

❉ Doctor Who’s first woman director has passed away.

Patricia “Paddy” Russell (born July 4 1928 – Nov 2 2017) was a British television director. She was among the earliest female directors at the BBC, and was one of the last surviving crewmembers of the BBC’s Quatermass Experiment.

In the 1950s, she worked as a BBC production assistant to famed director Rudolph Cartier. She worked on all three Quatermass serials as well as the 1954 adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Paddy Russell was the first female director to work on ‘Doctor Who’, and after the William Hartnell story ‘The Massacre’ she subsequently returned for Jon Pertwee’s ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’ and Tom Baker’s ‘Pyramids of Mars’ and ‘Horror of Fang Rock’.

In 1966, she directed her first Doctor Who story, The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve. Following this, she directed episodes of Pere GoriotLittle WomenSoftly, Softly: TaskforceZ-Cars and The Moonstone before returning to Doctor Who with Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Pyramids of Mars and Horror of Fang Rock, in 1974, 1975 and 1977 respectively, to direct the Third and Fourth Doctors.

Matt Evenden writes:

“She always seemed a very formidable woman, not surprising, considering she started her career at a time when roles for women in television were very limited. Working on shows such as Quatermass and Nineteen Eighty Four with Rudolph Cartier in the 1950s she went on to become a director herself. She helped create some of the most iconic stories in Doctor Who; Pyramids of Mars and The Horror of Fang Rock both wonderful gothic horror stories, which chilled at the time and continue to do so now, over 40 years on.”

Russell was not only the first woman to direct a Doctor Who story, but also, along with Julia Smith, one of the first two women to work as a director for the BBC. She died peacefully in north Yorkshire where she had retired to the village of Oxenhope. She was in her 90th year.

❉ News source: Facebook

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