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Former regional journalist turned Bergerac creator dies aged 84

Robert Banks StewartThe youngest-ever news editor of a regional daily who went on to create Bergerac and write for Doctor Who has died aged 84.

Robert Banks Stewart, pictured left, who worked for both the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch and the Scotsman, later embarked on a successful career as a television writer.

Most notable for his creation of Jersey-based detective Jim Bergerac, he also served as a producer on programmes including The Darling Buds of May.

On that show, he is said to have given the final casting vote for Catherine Zeta-Jones to play Pop Larkin’s daughter.

Born in Edinburgh in 1931, Robert started out as an office boy at the Dispatch aged 15.

While there he is believed to have become the youngest news editor in the newspaper’s history, before he moved on to the Scotsman.

As well as writing Bergerac, which ran between 1981 and 1991, Robert also wrote two stories for Doctor Who in the mid-1970s – The Seeds of Doom and The Terror of the Zygons, in which Tom Baker’s incarnation of the Time Lord was pitted against the Loch Ness Monster.

He created the Zygons – a shapeshifting alien race who have more recently featured in episodes starring David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in the title role.

The keen playwright also created Bafta-nominated series Shoestring, and published his first novel – a thriller entitled The Hurricane’s Tail – aged 81.

Robert died at home last Thursday after suffering from cancer.

He is survived by his three sons from his second marriage and a daughter from his first.

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  • January 20, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Never knew him, but those TV programmes are a roll-call of my youth.
    Thank you Robert for all that creative work – especially Shoestring!

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