An Adventure in Space and Time - David Bradley and Claudia Grant
An Adventure in Space and Time - William Hartnell's Doctor (David Bradley) and Susan Foreman (Claudia Grant) ©2013 BBC/BBC Worldwide

Stef Coburn, the son of Anthony Coburn who wrote the first Doctor Who Story, is claiming he owns the copyright to the TARDIS!

The creation of the series is featured in the drama An Adventure in Space and Time (pictured above). The writer Anthony Coburn does not actually feature as the script editor, staff writer and others have been roled into one character to simply the story telling of the drama!

Anthony Coburn was a BBC staff writer in 1963 and was given a draft of the new series which was to bridge the afternoon’s sports programmes and the adult evening programmes. Sydney Newman, other writers and production staff had discussions prior to Anthony Coburn involvement.

In those discussions and draft storyline was a craft that took the main characters to different places and times. The main thing that was missing was what form it would take. Even if it was Anthony’s choice of a Police Box his son is going to have difficulty proving copyright.

Non staff writers have been able to claim the copyright for characters like the Daleks and the Brigadier. Here it has been well documented that Anthony Coburn was staff and that he worked from a outline. Both of these would be a problem for son Stef in claiming the TARDIS copyright.

The BBC had announced in September that they where going to air the four episodes of the first story in November as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. They have since pulled that and are showing another first Doctor story. It is thought that Stef’s claim was the reason for this change.

Why after all this time has this now come up? Stef claims that upon his father’s death the copyright of all of his ideas passed to his widow, Joan. Only earlier this year she passed it on to him.

Needless to say Doctor Who fans are none too happy with Stef Coburn and have made this clear on twitter!.

The Mark Gatiss Doctor Who early years drama An Adventure in Space and Time has been confirmed for BBC Two on 21 November at 9.00pm to 10.30pm. US viewers will be able to see this on BBC America on Friday, November 22 2013 at 9:00pm ET/PT


Colin Davies

The editor of Film Review Online