Pickwoad worked on 71 episodes of the BBC sci-fi series, beginning with series six’s A Christmas Carol (starring Matt Smith) and ending with series ten’s Twice Upon A Time (with Peter Capaldi). He also worked on several episodes of the spin-off, Class, which was cancelled after one series in 2016.
"I am the designer of Doctor Who, and welcome to my World"
I am absolutely devastated to hear that Michael Pickwoad has sadly passed away. What an incredible, talented man. And how lucky were we to have had him bring our show to life, through his wonderful vision & artistry. pic.twitter.com/ua9K4wUa8V
Pickwoad began his career as an art director in the 1970s before taking on the role of production designer on films such as the Richard E Grant-led cult classic Withnail and I. He began working with Steven Moffat on the Dawn French sitcom Murder Most Horrid, where Moffat was working as a writer. They then collaborated again on the former Doctor Who showrunner’s sitcom Coupling, and his drama Jekyll.
And Pickwoad’s Whoniverse ties don’t end there – his father, William Mervyn, appeared in a 1966 serial of the original series called The War Machines.
Tributes for the Tardis designer have been pouring in on Twitter from Neil Gaiman, Mark Gatiss, Matt Lucas and both current and former showrunners Chris Chibnall and Steven Moffat among many, many others.
So sorry to hear this. I loved what Michael Pickwoad did with production design in the Doctor's Wife, and enjoyed our conversations so much. Thank you Michael (and I loved learning from him that his father was William Mervyn from All Gas & Gaiters). https://t.co/tkUc6pIvuy
Deeply saddened to hear of the untimely death of the great Michael Pickwoad. It was always a delight to walk onto one of his sets and even more so to be taken on a little tour by the man himself, eyes twinkling. Funny, friendly, a true gentleman and a frankly astonishing talent. pic.twitter.com/XR0byRK1I8
“Everyone at Doctor Who is incredibly saddened to learn that Michael Pickwoad has died,” Chris Chibnall wrote in a statement.
“His contribution to the show during Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s era was immense and varied, conjuring up distant galaxies and historical eras – as well as an iconic TARDIS interior – with equal brilliance. He was a beloved member of the Doctor Who team and we send our sympathy and love to his family.”
“Doctor Who never had the movie-scale budget it needed, and our secret weapon for hiding that was Michael Pickwoad,” Moffat, who worked extensively with Pickwoad, said as part of a longer tribute (which you can read in full here).
“In no time flat, with next to no money, he gave us arctic vistas, Viking villages, the sheriff of Nottingham’s castle, any number of spaceships, the best submarine I’ve ever seen on screen and the finest ever version of the TARDIS control room. And through it all, he was kind, and courteous, and funny.
“The only downside of great men, is that they make terrible losses, and we’ve lost Michael far too soon. He was a genius and a gentleman and we will all miss him. Looking back on all those mad, happy years, I think he was right to wear that tweed jacket and bow tie. More than that, he was entitled. If Doctor Who had been a designer, instead of a rebel Time Lord, she’d have been Michael Pickwoad.”