Michael Pickwoad on the set of Doctor Who

Legendary Doctor Who production designer Michael Pickwoad passes away at 73

Contributed by
Aug 28, 2018

If you’ve ever marveled at the (bigger on the) inside of the Eleventh or Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS, you have seen the work of Michael Pickwoad’s supernatural imagination.

The BAFTA-nominated Pickwoad, who first entered the multidimensional world of Doctor Who in 2010 and worked as Production Designer through the Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi eras, is reported to have passed yesterday according to the BBC. Pickwoad was behind the otherworldly scenes from 71 episodes of Doctor Who. From the Dickensian magic of Season 6’s "A Christmas Carol" to Season 10’s "Twice Upon a Time," it was Pickwoad’s vision that had legions of fans wanting a ride on the TARDIS.

“Never have I met a man with such fund of knowledge, about…well, everything literally everything,” former showrunner Steven Moffat, who worked with Pickwoad through "Twice Upon a Time," told the BBC. “If there’s a university somewhere that confers degrees in Everything, then that’s the one Michael got.”

You don’t randomly hear intricate details about Roman Centurions or obsolete types of staircases from just anyone. Pickwoad was a walking encyclopedia of information that spanned across eras like the life of the Gallifreyan Time Lord. Sometimes Moffatt wondered how many lives he’d already lived — and how many he still had ahead of him.

Pickwoad was also able to do the unthinkable by turning the show’s lacking budget into every unbelievable place and time period the Doctor would land in the phone booth that isn’t a phone booth. The TARDIS interiors he designed were meant to belong to all eras and to none. For both Smith and Capaldi’s characters, he wanted a general feel of something half-electrical and half-mechanical, a fusion of technologies that included those levers the Doctor is always pulling to save the world.

In addition to Doctor Who, Pickwoad’s projects include films like The Krays and Withnail & I and TV shows such as Poirot, Marple, Russell T. Davies’ A Midsummer NIght’s Dream, Lost in Austen, The Prisoner and the Doctor Who spinoff Class.

“A production designer should think like a director and behave like a producer,” Pickwoad once said, and his talent for creating breathtaking visuals while still viewing everything through a mental camera lens was wondrous and rare.

Doctor Who alums and Pickwoad collaborators, including Moffatt, Neil Gaiman, Mark Catiss, and Matt Lucas have been sharing their tributes on Twitter.

(via BBC)

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