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Sydney Newman
The Abominable Showman

December 2017

He was an outspoken, key figure in UK TV history – discover his best creations here.

Introduction by season programmer Dick Fiddy

Sydney Newman


“My first thought was of a time-space machine with contemporary characters...”
Newman on ‘Doctor Who’

Producer Sydney Newman was a key figure in UK TV history with far-reaching influence. Imported by ABC in 1958 to bring a new verve to their drama department, Canadian Sydney Newman took over the reins of the channel’s flagship drama anthology series Armchair Theatre, masterminding its development from a source of classic reinterpretations and adaptions of stage plays to a groundbreaking hothouse of contemporary cutting-edge dramas. Headhunted by the BBC, he repeated the trick with the equally influential The Wednesday Play. Aside from this, he brought about cult titles such as The Avengers, Doctor Who and Adam Adamant Lives! His brash demeanour and no-nonsense approach rubbed some up the wrong way (he was described in the press as ‘The Abominable Showman’ and by BBC detractors as ‘the crude colonial’), but Newman had the last laugh with a glittering career, which we celebrate here.


See our special Doctor Who event, our Missing Believed Wiped events - Sessions 1 and 2 - and visit our free Mediatheque to explore TV shows and clips from the archives.

Supported by

The Canadian High Commission


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