Waris Hussein

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Waris Hussein is a BAFTA-winning film and TV director, despite being one of the three people most to blame for the existence of Doctor Who.


Since he was the first Asian director at the BBC, and one of the youngest ever, most people were too busy being racist or teasing him about his mom working in the building (she was a broadcaster for BBC World Service) to even notice that he was gay, much less discriminate against him for it, despite him hanging out in a circle of theater boys like Ian McKellen and the ultimate fag-hag, James Bond's wife, Diane Cilento.

Hussein directed the Doctor Who pilot, plus An Unearthly Child and most of Marco Polo. He convinced Verity Lambert that she was right to go after William Hartnell, and convinced Hartnell to take the role. And he trained Douglas Camfield (who directed a crapload of serials for the first four Doctors and almost became Derrick Sherwin's successor). Beyond that, he wasn't quite as involved in Doctor Who as Adventures in Space and Time would make you think, but seriously, that's more than enough, isn't it?


After Doctor Who, Hussein worked on increasingly high-profile TV projects before making the move to feature films. Then, in the mid-80s, he went to Hollywood, where, like many award-winning foreign directors, he was named as director on a number of films that never escaped development hell, while paying the bills directing TV movies.

Nowadays, he's invariably referred to as "Doctor Who director Waris Hussein", which I'm sure he loves. Still, he works on whatever he wants to now instead of what the studios assign him, and he's got a house in London and a condo in West Hollywood and was able to afford renting a house in San Francisco for a couple years when he decided to teach acting and directing there for a break from working, so I guess it all turned out pretty OK for him.


  • He was born Waris Habibullah, but, on the advice of his college friends, changed his name to Hussein because that's a name that'll go over better with white people.
  • According to Richard Burton, Waris can do a better Welsh accent than him, but not nearly as good an Indian accent.