Terrance Dicks (born 1935) is probably the closest thing the Doctor Who franchise had to a single behind-the-scenes "public face" during the classic series run, and has been involved with the show for a longer period of time than anyone, ever. He was hired as assistant script editor in 1968 through the recommendation of his friend and fellow writer Malcolm Hulke. Dicks became full script editor in 1969. He and Barry Letts, the producer, had creative control of the show for all five seasons in which Jon Pertwee played the Doctor. The equally legendary Robert Holmes (a very different kind of writer though equally notable in Who terms) took over from him.
Although he was not credited as a writer on any of these stories, Dicks made heavy contributions to the scripts during his era and presided over (or at the very least allowed to happen) the creation of the core mythology of the Whoniverse. He co-created the Time Lords and their non-intervention policy and the Doctor's enemy the Master. Even though UNIT did not originate with him (but did first appear in a story he script edited), he nurtured the concept along and presided over the promotion of the Brigadier from guest star to series regular.
Outside his period as Script Editor, Terrance Dicks co-wrote "The War Games" with Malcolm Hulke. By himself, he wrote "Robot", "Horror of Fang Rock", State of Decay, and The Five Doctors. He wrote an early version of "The Brain of Morbius", but asked for his name to be removed from the story because of the extent to which the scripts were rewritten for budgetary reasons by his friend (and then-current Script Editor) Robert Holmes.
His most visible contribution to the franchise, however, was his involvement with Doctor Who Novelisations for Target Books from 1973 to the end of the original TV show. He personally wrote over sixty of the novelisations and acted as an unofficial head writer and administrator for the series.
During the "Wilderness Years" following the series' cancellation in 1989, Dicks wrote thirteen original novels in all the different prose sections of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe. Among the most significant were the second Doctor Who New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Exodus, and the first Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Eight Doctors.
Other oddments in the Who franchise include the stage plays Doctor Who and Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday and The Ultimate Adventure, and their audio adaptations, the novelisation of Invasion of the Bane (the inaugural episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures), and, with Malcolm Hulke, the first-ever Doctor Who nonfiction book, The Making of Doctor Who, as well as a few other nonfiction Who works. He also recorded many, many DVD Commentaries and documentary appearances.
Oldschool fans still sometimes demand that he be invited to write a TV story again.
After leaving Doctor Who, Dicks and Letts created an extremely grim hard science fiction BBC show, Moonbase 3. The series did not last long. He then worked on many adaptations of classic novels and other literature for the Beeb. His early pre-Who TV work included episodes of The Avengers and Crossroads.
- Alan Smithee: He took his name off "The Brain of Morbius" because the final script bore very little comparison to his original version. When Bob Holmes asked him what pen name he wanted he suggested, "some bland pseudonym". The story was credited to Robin Bland, which Terry found hilarious.
- Author Appeal: In his Expanded Universe work, continuity, continuity, continuity.
- Author Catchphrase: He has many, commonly subject to Affectionate Parody:
- "The mysterious traveller in time and space known only as the Doctor...", "A wheezing, groaning sound" (as a descriptor of the TARDIS sound effect), as well as stock descriptions of individual Doctors. (He did not, however, come up with the equally famous and much-referenced chapter title "Escape To Danger", which first appears as Part 3 of "The Web Planet" by Bill Strutton.)
- One of his stock Doctor descriptions is Fifth's "pleasant open face", which The Complete(ly Useless) Doctor Who Encyclopedia considers a disturbing disfigurement that thankfully wasn't present on screen.
- He also had stock descriptions for each recurring alien menace. The Ice Warriors, for instance, were "a once proud race."
- One novelization had 'hum of power' appear three times in two pages. That phrase, and 'bench packed with complex electronic equipment' appeared so often that he must have been taking them off the scripts.
- Beige Prose: In the Target novelisations.
- Creator Thumbprint: "A wheezing and groaning sound..." "The mysterious traveler in time and space known only as the Doctor..." "Capacious pockets..." ""A pleasant, open face" to describe Peter Davison's Doctor. (The other Doctors have their own stock descriptors.) So ubiquitous that SFX magazine sponsored a "Write Like Terrance Dicks" competition with him as judge in order to come up with a description for the Matt Smith version.
- See also this page, which lets you write like Dicks with just a few die rolls.
- Darker and Edgier: With the arrival of the Doctor Who New Adventures, series, he adjusted his style accordingly.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: He has a bit of a lisp. Hence his fan nickname of "Cuddly Uncle Tewwy"
- Fleeting Demographic Rule: Known for his rule that, in an age before home video or frequent multi-channel repeats, no story should expect the audience to remember another story that happened more than three years previously.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: His works in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe (the later ones particularly) began to see a lot of scenes wherein the main female characters would be threatened with rape by the bad guys.
- Kid Detective: The Baker Street Irregulars series, about a teenage Sherlock Holmes fan who with the aid of his friends solve crimes.
- Lighter and Softer: His Doctor Who novelizations (arguably intended for a younger audience than the show) tended to downplay the darker and more adult moments. He also made a few "junior" novelisations which took this further.
- Money, Dear Boy: One of the world's most shamelessly charming public practitioners.
- Self-Plagiarism: When writing for the novel ranges, he tended to recycle stories he wrote for the TV series. In one case (the novel World Game) he literally cuts and pastes large sections from a previous novel.
- Those Two Guys: Fans tend to see him and Barry Letts as this. He himself considers Letts to have been his best friend.
- Verbal Tic: In interviews, he often ends a sentence with "you see".