"Mary Whitehouse will never accept this" : A Dr Who Production History (Inspired by Guajolote)

Chapter 1. A Most Unusual Choice
  • "So Question one. What were you thinking"
    "Not the most subtle of ways to start an interview eh? (laughs), still you don't waste time with preliminaries. The logical answer was that we were looking for the anti Jon Pertwee"
    "That's a bit rude"

    "Yes it was a bit, I'll rephrase. We were looking for someone who was as far away from Jon in terms of interpretation that it was possible to get and he was a good actor"
    "Did you know in 1973 that he had issues?"

    "No, I have to be honest he kept that well hidden and continued to do so for quite awhile. Had I known then I would have plumped for Tom Baker. But I didn't and looking back now over 40 years on it makes me shudder to think..."

    (Derrick Sherwin speaking in 2003 but on a dvd released in 2018)
    Chapter 2. He is The Doctor, Whether You Like It Or Not
  • "John Cleese said to Graham Chapman 'you bastard, you've sold out' when Chapman told Cleese that he had taken the role of Doctor Who. Now that was done jokingly. Did you...

    "I don't think John was joking, well maybe not wholly. Things weren't good between John and Graham in the early 1970's. Graham on his day was a superb actor, even better than John. John had left Python before the final series because he felt that Graham's alcoholism was getting worse. I also think that John's ego was punctured. John Cleese could himself be a bastard at time especially when it came to some of the sketches. The darkness and anger that you saw in Fawlty Towers had its roots in some of the sketches that were in Python.

    You're not supposed to speak ill of the dead. I loved Graham and I always will but the truth is he wasn't the right choice for Doctor Who"

    "Did You think John Cleese wanted the role?"

    "John Cleese...as Doctor Who? Jesus Christ No!"

    (Eric Idle)
    Chapter 3. "They Loved It When He Walked Through The Door"
  • "When was the first time you became aware that things were going on"
    "(sigh), This is with hindsight, it would have to be when we were shooting "Genesis Of The Daleks" Its been lauded by many as the greatest story of the show and it was superbly well written but the tone was so dark and as Graham bore the brunt of filming it took its toll. There was the famous scene where the Doctor is about to destroy the Daleks and Graham was agonising over how to phrase 'have I the right'. It took about 7 takes before he was satisfied. David Maloney the director called 'cut' and Graham left the set to go to his dressing room.

    About an hour and a half later I was in the BBC bar when Graham came in along with some of the production team and he had a big grin on his face. I had one drink with them before I went home...I remember turning around and seeing Graham in full flow.

    (April Walker)
    Chapter 4. "Nobody likes a smartarse II"
  • "Graham and I didn't get on well. I think it was because of his ego. Harry's character was strong and bluff and was something an alternative for Sarah Jane and its possible that Graham felt that it was distracting for him. I decided to leave after Terror of The Zygons as a regular character but returned for The Android Invasion as a farewell. Looking back now it was obvious that Graham was struggling with the fame that the role has given him and the booze was taking its toll. The last time that he and I spoke was during the shooting of the 20th anniversary special and he took me to one side and apologised for being a bastard in the 1970's. I said 'its wasn't you Graham it was the booze. Graham looked at me and said "Ian I was the booze and the booze was me"

    (Ian Marter)
    Chapter 5: The Wheels Start Coming Off
  • vlcsnap-2021-04-24-19h21m22s882.png
    Chapter 6:Pastels instead of Posters
  • The BBC had decided to postpone the next series of Doctor Who until 1980 which gave us some time. Terry and I sat down to discuss who we wanted as the 5th. We were looking for someone who was as far away from Graham as it was possible to get. We had gone through some ideas, John Nettles, Peter Davison, Robert Powell and even Robert Lindsay were touted....I went to see him in New York in mid 1979 and saw him on stage the night before. He was mesmerising. I thought 'he won't agree to it'

    I met him the next day and he was charming and smooth. He listened quietly and intently to my pitch. I stopped talking and he looked at me with that deadpan expression of his. For a few seconds I though he was going to say no. He asked me one question

    "Will I have to say any of that claptrap"

    I said "not if you don't want to"

    He said

    "I'll do it"

    (Philip Hinchcliffe)

    Last edited:
    Chapter 7: Hellos and Goodbyes
  • "By the Autumn of 1982 we were beginning to think about the 30th anniversary .The logistics alone were a story in itself. We initially thought of having a stand in for the first doctor and had thought of Richard Hurndall but we decided against because it wouldn't have seemed right. That's no disrespect to Richard. We would use existing footage of William Hartnell and decided to pair Susan with the Fifth Doctor and Mel.

    Pat and Jon were up for it as was Tom. The issue was Graham. He had been sober for the best part of five years and had been superb in Life Of Brian but I have to admit that I was reluctant at first to talk to him. I still remember him breaking that trade unionist's nose and was concerned that he would act up again. So I called John Cleese who by this time had patched things up with Graham and asked him to act as a interlocutor.

    John said to me "Philip, He needs to do this, he wants to do this. So I agreed to meet Graham and his partner David at their home. Graham looked at me with his intense blue eyes and said '"yes". I asked him if he was still sober and he said yes.

    Then he said something to me that I'll never forget.

    "Philip, I was a total bastard and It cost me so much....I promised myself in 1977 that if I returned I would apologise to everyone that I upset. Please let me have this chance"

    He was crying, David was crying and I was crying. I stood up and shook his hand

    (Philip Hinchliffe, 2018)
    Chapter 8: "Are you sure about this?"
  • "The Five Doctors" was Graham's swan song. I knew Tom was leaving but he graciously said nothing until the week after the series had finished. Graham was absolutely magnificent. Here was a man who admitted his faults and had done so much in the past 6 years to rectify them. It wasn't just the apologies he made to everyone it was also the way in which he conducted himself on set. He said to me afterwards that he believed God had given him a second chance which I have to smirk at because of Life Of Brian but he really meant it.

    Chapter 10: Primetime
  • "The first question I'm always asked is 'why Paul Jones'. There was something about him that struck me as someone who could be a calmer and more jovial Doctor as opposed to Rik's hyperactive portrayal. I watched some episodes of a quiz show he hosted called Beat The Teacher and saw how he would take a delight in how the kids put one over on the teachers and I thought 'yes' that's him. "

    (Andrew Cartmel, Producer 1989-1995)
    Chapter 11. "That Was The Point The Show Grew Up"
  • "Doctor Who had had a political slant since the 1970's. A lot of Jon Pertwee's stories had social commentary underneath the sci-fi but when Blood and Fire was announced it brought the real world crashing in"

    (Stacy Dorning 2003)
    Chapter 12: Back To Basics.
  • "Danny's arrival gave us the chance to effectively perform a soft reboot of the show. Time Splintered had had mixed reviews and we thought 'ok, lets not try that again' So we took a year to get it right and we knew from early 1994 that the BBC wanted to make Danny's first full story an integral part of Christmas.

    The 8th Doctor was going to be a swashbuckler, a hedonist and even a romantic lead. We were heavily influenced by Indiana Jones and we wanted Doctor Who to go back to what it was, an adventure series set in time and space"