Anthony Read : biography
Anthony "Tony" Read (born 21 April 1935) is a British script editor, television writer and author. He was principally active in British television from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, although he occasionally contributed to televised productions until 1999. Starting in the 1980s, he launched a second career as a print author, concentrating largely on World War II histories. Since 2004 he has regularly written prose fiction, mainly in the form of a revival of his popular 1983 television show, The Baker Street Boys.
As author, historian
During the 1980s, Read gradually began to replace his television work with a burgeoning career in print. He remains an active author .
One of the notable facts about Read’s second career as an author is the degree to which he continued his relationship with David Fisher into the world of non-fiction writing. While the majority of Read’s books were solo works, he and Fisher combined a number of times, almost always to explore some aspect of World War II. Together the duo wrote The Fall of Berlin, Deadly Embrace: Hitler, Stalin and the Nazi-Soviet Pact, 1939-1941, The Proudest Day: India’s Long Road to Independence, Operation Lucy: The Most Secret Spy Ring of the Second World War, Berlin Rising: Biography of a City, Colonel Z: The Secret Life of a Master of Spies, and Kristallnacht: The Nazi Night of Terror.
Read’s solo non-fiction works follow a similar interest in World War II, but he has occasionally written prose fiction. He has been the main writer of a series of novels about The Baker Street Boys, a television show for which he wrote in the early 1980s.
As television professional
Like other artists who worked during the 1960s, a substantial portion of Read’s body of work was junked by the BBC, and is thus not available for inspection by a modern audience. Nevertheless, Read was prodigious during the early part of his career. His earliest work was as a freelance writer for Z-Cars in 1962. He soon graduated to writer/script editor of several other adventure-mystery series, like the anthological Detective, The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling and Peter Cushing’s 1965 Sherlock Holmes vehicle. The balance of the decade was spent on the adult drama, The Troubleshooters. Though little of his work on the petroleum industry drama survives today, Troubleshooters would provide Read with the steadiest work of his career. He was the series’ original script editor in 1965, and ended his run as producer of the 1969 season.
When he departed The Troubleshooters, Read kept his producer’s hat on for a few years, before returning to his more traditional roles of script editing and writing. The Lotus Eaters and The Dragon’s Opponent extended his run as a producer of contemporary dramas. It also continued a few key professional relationships he had enjoyed since the mid-1960s. Notably, The Lotus Eaters reunited him with director Douglas Camfield and writer David Fisher.
By 1978, Read had been lured to Doctor Who by producer Graham Williams. As the mid-season replacement for Robert Holmes, Read’s biggest personal stamp on the long-running science fantasy show was undoubtedly the "Key to Time" story arc, and the shaping of the character of Romana I. A key ally in his days on Doctor Who was again David Fisher. Fisher wrote a full third of the "Key to Time" stories, and then wrote (or co-wrote) three more stories in the next year.
Read was also instrumental in commissioning Douglas Adams as a Doctor Who writer, and for advocating the Hitchhiker’s Guide author to be his replacement as script editor. His final contribution to Doctor Who was as scriptwriter for The Horns of Nimon. Given the cancellation of Shada, he was thus the final writer of the Graham Williams era on the program.
Immediately following his stint on Doctor Who in 1979, he contributed the scripts for the episodes Powers of Darkness and Out of Body, Out of Mind to the paranormal thriller series The Omega Factor
Together with Don Houghton, he co-wrote the fifth Sapphire & Steel television story, known informally as Dr McDee Must Die. In 1984 Read adapted the John Wyndham novel, Chocky, for Children’s ITV. Its success led to two original sequels: Chocky’s Children and Chocky’s Challenge. In an interview for the DVD release of Chocky, Read revealed that the Wyndham estate considered his adaptation of Chocky to be the best adaptation ever produced from Wyndham’s novels.
Read’s biggest critical success of the 1980s, however, was 1983’s The Baker Street Boys. The series’ unique approach to the world of Sherlock Holmes garnered Read an award from the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain.