David Tomblin (1931-2005)

Writer/director David Tomblin died on 4th August, aged 74. Best known as the co-creator and producer of ITC’s The Prisoner series (for which he also co-scripted the opening episode Arrival, wrote and directed Living In Harmony, and directed The Girl Who Was Death from a script based on his own story), Tomblin also made contributions to Gerry Anderson’s three 1970s live-action series – UFO, The Protectors and Space:1999. On UFO, he was instrumental in revamping the series format for the second production block, both writing and directing the episodes The Cat With Ten Lives and Reflections In The Water and then penning the script for the final episode The Long Sleep. On The Protectors, he directed the episode Wheels, but he made a more significant contribution to the first season of Space:1999, initially taking the reigns for Another Time, Another Place and Force Of Life. He later returned to the series for The Infernal Machine and the final episode The Testament Of Arkadia, also developing the story for the latter with Johnny Byrne.

With these and his earlier UFO and The Prisoner episodes, Tomblin proved that he had an enormous directorial flair, but after Space:1999 he did not direct again. Instead, he made an international reputation for himself as the best assistant director in the business, courted by Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, and Richard Attenborough. After National Service as a young man, his early film career saw him working as an assistant director on ITC series such as The New Adventures Of Charlie Chan, The Last Of The Mohicans, William Tell and The Invisible Man. His association with producer Ralph Smart on the latter led directly to Danger Man and a friendship with Patrick McGoohan which, ultimately, resulted in The Prisoner. In the meantime, he assisted Robert Wise on The Haunting (1964), and George Pollock on Murder Ahoy(1964) and Murder Most Foul (1964).

It was in the 1970s that Tomblin really established his reputation, working as assistant director on Barry Lyndon (1975), The Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975), The Omen (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Superman(1978). He went on to work on some of the biggest films of Eighties: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Superman II(1980), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), Gandhi (1982), Return Of The Jedi (1983), Never Say Never Again (1983), Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984), Out Of Africa (1985), Empire Of The Sun (1987) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). His later work included The Three Musketeers (1993), Braveheart (1995) and The Man In The Iron Mask (1998).

Originally published in FAB 53.