Without the influence of Terrance Dicks, the modern incarnation of Doctor Who simply wouldn't exist in the same form. Yesterday, news broke that former Doctor Who writer and script editor, Terrance Dicks, had passed away at the age of 84. Dicks joined Doctor Who in 1968, arriving during the final stages of the Second Doctor's time in the TARDIS, and continued as head script editor until 1974, essentially overseeing the Third Doctor's entire tenure. After stepping down as script editor, Dicks continued his association with Doctor Who, contributing scripts into the Fourth and Fifth Doctor eras.
Terrance Dicks had a hand in crafting so many elements that are still vital to Doctor Who mythology today. His very first credit on the BBC sci-fi series was on the Second Doctor's regeneration story, "The War Games," which first introduced the idea of the Time Lords to Doctor Who. Though the concept originally came from producer Derrick Sherwin, Dicks' writing helped set the tone of the Time Lords for future generations - foreboding and seemingly omnipotent beings who lacked a sense of humor.
Dicks was also one of the creative forces behind the Master, who he envisioned as being the Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes. The Master remains an incredibly popular villain to this day, and was most recently seen pulling double duty in the season 10 finale, portrayed by both Michelle Gomez and John Simm. Once again, Dicks helped lay the foundations for what the Master should be and that same template still informs the character's modern incarnations. It could also be said that Terrance Dicks made a huge contribution to the development of multi-Doctor stories. The very first of these, The Three Doctors, came during Dicks' time as script editor, and the the man himself would go on to write The Five Doctors in 1983, widely considered to be one of the best stories in Doctor Who history, despite being reworked under strict time constraints.
Dicks' time on Doctor Who was vital in modernizing the series. Moving into the world of technicolor, the Third Doctor became more of an action hero than ever before - a trait the modern series has seized upon. Assistants also became more rounded, interesting characters, with favorites such as Sarah Jane Smith and Jo Grant first appearing during the Dicks era. This incredible turnaround is even more impressive, since the BBC were considering cancelling Doctor Who amid falling ratings when Patrick Troughton left the role. Were it not for the ingenuity of figures such as Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts, the Doctor would likely have never needed a new regeneration cycle.
Perhaps more than his contributions as script editor, however, Terrance Dicks' will be remembered for his series of Doctor Who novelizations and original stories. Back when fans weren't able to binge entire seasons through Netflix or BBC iPlayer, these books were a vital cog in maintaining Doctor Who's popularity, especially following the show's cancellation in 1989. Dicks was also responsible for penning the very first in a series of over 70 novels starring the Eighth Doctor that ran from 1997 to the TV show's return in 2005.
It's no overstatement to say that when many figures in television had given up on Doctor Who over the past 50 years, Dicks maintained faith in the original formula and was key in ensuring the story of the Doctor lived on, and the franchise's popularity continued. Without the efforts of Dicks, and many others, the BBC may have never returned to the franchise in the new millennium and the current iteration of Doctor Who might never have become a reality.