"Phil won't leave his room" - A Doctor Who Production History

Go to the forum you want to post the thread in and there should be an orange "Post thread" button towards top right.

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That should take you to a text box like the one used to reply to posts. Before you post your thread, scroll down a little and there should be a thing for "Initial threadmark". Make sure to threadmark it "Part 1" or whatever and be sure to keep threadmarking subsequent chapter so people can skip the in-between talk and just read the timeline if they want.

Still on pause, but I think the next post will be a guest co-write in which the butterflies flap around one of the BBC's most beloved institutions.
 
Or just put it in my thread temporarily. That way, those who aren't interested in my thread can ignore it. When you're ready to include it in your timeline, you can just remove it from my thread and add it to yours.
 
Yes, probably next week or the week after. The next three posts will probably be guest posts and I was waiting on a couple that deal with things in 1977-78 before I resume with my own posts and THE HORROR OF 1979!
 
Questions to be answered in the next three installments:
Who turns to The Doctor for help in the matter of a stolen toupee?
Why has Anthony Powell put in a special order for a beige suit?
How many does Blake have and why aren't they telling us?
 
Actually, strike that. One of my guest posts is set in 1980, not 1978 like I thought, so I'm pushing that back a bit.
 
Part 8 - Guest post
Morecambe and Wise (Stay) At The BBC by Gary Rodger

Having joined the Corporation in 1968, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise's BBC output – in particular, their celebrated Christmas shows – is regarded as some of the finest British television of its era. The programmes were the perfect combination of its star performers – Eric and Ernie's double act established in 1941 – the brilliance of script writer Eddie Braben and expert producers John Ammonds and Ernest Maxin, not the mention the combined talents of the BBC's production staff whose work on comedy, light entertainment, drama, current affairs et al throughout the decade ensured that the 1970s are, to this day, considered the golden age of the small screen.

Despite this success, however, Morecambe and Wise were considering a significant change in their professional routine. The pressure of work, coupled with the public's expectation that each new Christmas show would top the previous effort, was a pressing concern for Eric. In parallel with their comedic idols of yesteryear, Eric – as with Stan Laurel – would take great interest in every aspect of each new show, often remaining behind at rehearsals to discuss its progress with his producer and suggest script amendments; come recording day, Eric would observe post-production, keen to see the finished edit. He would contemplate the programme's perceived strengths and weaknesses up until the day of transmission and beyond. Meanwhile, Ernie – as with Oliver Hardy before him – was blessed with an ability to compartmentalise with working life; at 5pm, he could happily leave the day's work behind and enjoy social gatherings with a variety of show business friends.

This is not to suggest that Ernie was without his own concerns regarding the partnership; as he would frequently exclaim in media interviews, "I'm still on my way to Hollywood!" The child performer once billed as 'Britain's Mickey Rooney' had retained his stateside ambitions throughout his professional life, even after attaining the pinnacle of success in Britain. This was a significant point of difference between the pair; Eric had no interest in pursuing American stardom. Where the two did agree, however, was on the future direction of their act, with a nagging doubt that their television shows were becoming formulaic in their structure and appearance. Such concerns were occasionally revealed in newspaper interviews where the duo would float the idea of resuming their movie careers (M&W had starred in three films for the Rank Organisation in the 1960s, a process which the duo did not wholly enjoy).

Thus, in 1977, when the time came to determine their next contractual move, M&W were open to suggestions. Phillip Jones, head of light entertainment at Thames Television and a close friend of Ernie, approached the duo with a substantial offer to defect from the BBC; crucially, the deal – centered on the production of four television specials per year – also included a proposal for M&W to make a return to the big screen. Thames' subsidiary, Euston Films, had recently enjoyed box office success with the EMI-distributed movie version of The Sweeney.

The appeal of the package was obvious; an opportunity to reinvigorate the duo's television output whilst offering a second chance for a fulfilling big screen production.

*​

Although Ernie would normally take the lead in the partnership's business arrangements, it was Eric who broke the news of Thames' offer to Bill Cotton, recently promoted to the position of Controller of BBC1, at a Corporation gathering in late 1977. Since 1968, Morecambe and Wise had completed nine series plus their celebrated yuletide offerings. Their forthcoming spectacular, once again scheduled for the 25th of December would be their eighth Christmas special; the success of that show, attracting half the entire UK population – in many ways, the culmination of thirty-six years' hard work – served to strengthen Eric and Ernie's resolve to embark on a new chapter in their story. Never so relevant was the old adage, 'once you've been to the top, there's only one way to go'.

Cotton successfully countered Thames' proposal with a two-year contract which radically altered the duo's forthcoming workload; Morecambe and Wise's future BBC output would transition from the established production line of series and festive specials to a more eclectic mix of newly-devised formats, appearances on panel games and – crucially – feature-length productions. Indeed, 1978 would be devoted entirely to the latter, with Eric and Ernie starring in Morecambe and Wise Present: The Ernest Crown Affair, a narrative comedy without a studio audience laugh track and filmed – at the request of both Eric and Ernie – in 16mm. These changes allowed Morecambe and Wise to retain a somewhat similar content format whilst adopting a production style which did not draw direct comparisons with their television shows.

The Corporation having briefly dabbled with the format in The Picnic, a one-off half-hour filmed outing for The Two Ronnies screened in 1976, this was to be an eighty-minute production, the Corporation's most ambitious such project in the comedic genre. Previous film series such as The Adventures Of Gabriel Baine (1973-77) and Quiller, running since 1975, were dramas co-produced with Metromedia; with its more modest budget, but retaining one eye on the American market, Crown was produced in association with Time-Life films, a division of Time-Life Television with whom the BBC had successfully syndicated Doctor Who and Monty Python's Flying Circus to American TV stations.

The result was a star-studded farce which preserved Eric and Ernie's on-screen personas, as crafted since 1968; scripted by Braben and produced by Maxin, Bob Kellett was recruited as director, having previously assumed the role for Ronnie Barker's silent comedy Futtock's End, big screen adaptations of Up Pompeii, Don't Just Lie There, Say Something! and Are You Being Served? as well as Danny La Rue in Our Miss Fred and, most recently, Come Spy With Me for London Weekend Television. Ronnie Hazelhurst provided the film's uptempo soundtrack.

The nominal plot – effectively, an excuse for Morecambe and Wise to embark on an expedition around Television Centre – concerns the disappearance of Ernie's precious wig collection from his dressing room safe. As reports emerge of other hairpiece thefts, the boys commence their investigation in the manner of Holmes and Watson with Mr Wiseman adopting increasingly outlandish headgear as the story unfolds; this aspect of the performance was anticipated in the 1977 book The Morecambe and Wise Special, a two-page photo spread featuring Ernie's absurd collection of perukes.

The cast was made up of various tiers; the principal supporting actors comprised a number of faces familiar to British audiences, not least from their appearances in past Morecambe and Wise sketches: series regulars Ann Hamilton and Janet Webb plus Alan Curtis, Allan Cuthbertson, Raymond Mason, Anthony Sharp and Michael Ward. Next were a plethora of notable Morecambe and Wise Show guest stars, all of the whom made brief appearances: Ian Carmichael, Peter Cushing, Fenella Fielding, Glenda Jackson, Andre Previn and Edward Woodward. Frequent musical interruptions were provided by – who else – Arthur Tolcher.

Throughout proceedings, the screen also played host to a multitude of BBC stars, including Tony Blackburn, Robin Day, David Dimbleby, Noel Edmonds, Larry Grayson, Patrick Moore, Terry Wogan and the casts of Citizen Smith and Are You Being Served?. The film also included fleeting appearances from Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Marty Feldman and Elton John. Iain Cuthbertson reprised his role as The Doctor, shocking many a young viewer with the sight of the eminent Time Lord without his usual tonsorial covering.

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from Morecambe & Wise: Their Story by Harwood Poehl

The cast was further bolstered by an ingenious method of peppering proceedings with a-list stars (uncredited in Radio Times to preserve the element of surprise) instantly recognisable to international audiences; at the behest of Bill Cotton himself and with the cooperation of his production team led by John Fisher, Michael Parkinson's eponymous chat show would play a key role in proceedings by providing the services of its guests; thus, blink-and-you'll-miss-them sightings of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Sammy Davis Jr, Barry Manilow, Sir Ralph Richardson, Rod Steiger and Shelley Winters were secured. Sadly, the tight recording schedule of these elements (all in the autumn of that year) did not allow for M&W to appear on-screen with these guests, aside from one exception: a delightful interaction with stage and screen veteran Stanley Holloway.

Finally, Eric and Ernie revealed their biggest surprise. As they continued their tour of TVC, the boys stop at Mike Yarwood's dressing room. "I like Mike Yarwood", says Ernie. "His Cagney's not as good as mine, but he's still very good." "He's rubbish.", replies Eric. "I saw him trying to do the Prime Minister the other day. He was nothing like him. Could have been anybody."

Ernie knocks on the door. "Mr Yarwood, can you help us, please?" The door opens to reveal the real Jim Callaghan. "Sorry, lads, I'm busy. I'm in the middle of makeup", says the Prime Minister. The door closes. "I suppose he's not bad," says Eric. "He did sound a bit like Cagney there."

Callaghan's guest appearance might have had more far reaching effects than on just the careers of Morecambe and Wise. Callaghan later implied that between takes conversation, in which the usually Conservative Morecambe and Wise expressed misgivings about the suitability of Margaret Thatcher, persuaded the Prime Minister to set an October date for the general election which Labour won with a small but comfortable majority. The makers of the film certainly anticipated the possibility of Callaghan going to the country as there exists an alternate take of Eric decrying Yarwood's impersonation of "Jim Whatisname" rather than "the Prime Minister".

The story concluded with the revelation of Reginald Bosanquet as the hairpiece bandit; the ITN newscaster and well-known toupee owner was friends with Eric through The Lord's Taverners cricket charity and enjoyed his brief turn as pantomime villain. (A novel substitution was devised for the American market, see below)

The broadcast, at 8.45pm on Christmas night, delighted audiences; whilst the rating of 22.6m failed to top the charts – that honour going to the premiere of The Sound of Music earlier in the day with 26.5m viewers – the BBC's audience appreciation index registered a superb figure of 91. In response, ITV effectively waved the white flag, offering a heavily-edited TV version of the cut price Bond-style action film No.1 of the Secret Service.

Despite the film's success, Eric's subsequent health problems would prevent any attempt at a sequel, such was the arduous recording schedule associated with a feature-length production.

Throughout 1979, with Eric unavailable for most of the year, Ernie frequently travelled to the States to assist with the BBC and Time-Life's attempts to syndicate The Morecambe and Wise Show to local TV stations throughout America; as part of the promotional drive, he appeared on various CBS affiliate local talk shows over the summer. Meanwhile, Crown debuted on PBS stations in November 1979; this version was re-edited for transmission in a seventy-five minute slot; most of the content which didn't make the USA cut featured the cameos from BBC talent.

For the conclusion of the plot, Bosanquet's appearance was substituted by the elder statesman of American comedy, George Burns; the entertainer was enjoying a renaissance in popularity following his appearance opposite Walter Matthau in The Sunshine Boys; ironically, Burns had famously appeared in the film both with and without his hairpiece, thus his presence in Crown suited the plot perfectly. Burns' scenes were filmed in July 1979 on the New York set of his film Going in Style; as with the Parkinson cameos, M&W did not appear on-screen with Burns, careful editing being deployed to disguise this fact.

Sadly, the film has not received a commercial release due to contractual issues, though bootleg copies have circulated for years. Crown was something of a trendsetter for the BBC's future Christmas output, with Dick Emery and sitcoms including Only Fools and Horses and Just Good Friends earmarked for extended, 16mm productions; likewise, The Two Ronnies's 1982 film By The Sea – originally, one hour, forty-five minutes in length – bears similarities in appearance.

Eric and Ernie's Christmas night show for the BBC in 1979 was a seasonal interview with Michael Parkinson, an uproarious affair featuring surprise appearances from Tommy Cooper and Arthur Askey. The nation's favourite comedy duo would remain at the Corporation for the remainder of their partnership, opting to sign one-year contracts which allowed them to pursue solo non-comedic/guest appearances across the BBC's television and radio network. In 1980, Eric made frequent turns sparring with Jimmy Hill on Match of the Day whilst Ernie paired with Michael Barrett for a BBC North series on Yorkshire landmarks which was subsequently networked on BBC2.

The duo hosted three series of a Radio 2 panel game, There's No Answer To That!, with a format similar to ITV's Jokers Wild; running from 1980-82, the shows featured a mixture of established comedians such as Harry Worth and Ted Rogers coupled with emerging performers including Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. The programme also included an early appearance by American comedian Garry Shandling.

1980 also saw a return to a traditional, studio-based Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show, though the format was retooled with an absence of filmed sketches and the big musical numbers associated with the Ernest Maxin-era; in their place, Eric and Ernie were installed as 'joint Director Generals' of the BBC, overseeing the Corporation's output from their plush office (bearing some similarity with their flat and featuring a bookcase/bed device allowing the resumption of their nocturnal sketches). That year's show featured, as special guests, Marti Caine, Roy Hudd, Pamela Stephenson and Eddie Waring plus chart topper Kelly Marie.

Subsequently, 1981 featured an eight-part series with the same format; overseen by new producer Marcus Plantin, the show added Jonathan Cecil in the role of the perpetually harassed floor manager, Stephen Lewis as a jobsworth commissionaire and a weekly routine from The Teri Scoble Dancers. This was followed by a Christmas special featuring Bucks Fizz, Steve Davis and Alfred Burke, the latter in a pastiche of the BBC's production of The Borgias.

Latterly, Eric and Ernie fronted Morecambe, Wise and Friends, a more traditional variety format (later retooled as The Main Attraction with a different host each week). While the format allowed for the duo to take light duties, linking routines by other performers, they still took opportunities to show the old magic hadn't left them No compilation of BBC comedy goes by without at least an excerpt of the escalating confusion as the "adamant" Ernie meets pop star Adam Ant, a situation further unbalanced by the entrance of Gerald Harper.

Separately, Eric made regular appearances on the BBC's World Cup coverage; in the new year, Ernie assumed a new role as frequent newspaper reviewer on Breakfast Time alongside his next-door neighbour Frank Bough.

When asked about the failed bid to bring Morecambe and Wise to Thames, Phillip Jones expressed little regret at being unable to secure the double act. "While I think they would have had a great time at Thames, what we wouldn't have been able to give them was the freedom they had at the BBC. A Thames contract would have had to have been for a set number of shows and as a new acquisition, we would have had to work them harder to prove the investment was worth it and that would risk an exhaustion that would have shown onscreen. The deal they had at the BBC where they could take it easy when they needed to was probably the better deal for them. Things probably worked out for the best."

Finally, the pair reunited in 1987 for The Morecambe and Wise Scrapbook, a collection of clips from their output for both ATV and the BBC linked by newly written crosstalk routines set in Eric and Ernie's flat. A highlight of the series was a smidgen of audio from their debut BBC series, Running Wild, recovered from a reel-to-reel tape recording of the live broadcast made by Bob Monkhouse.

Gary Rodger is a freelance writer with a particular interest in the fields of pay-TV and streaming services. Along with a talented team of contributors, Gary also moderates two regular discussion podcasts: Jaffa Cakes For Proust on British popular culture and The Sitcom Club on situation comedy.
 
Yes. Gary's new to writing counterfactuals and said he didn't really want to handle writing any "X passed away in Y" stuff. I inserted the 1987 date in there and you can take it Eric's around until 1990.

The political butterfly was meant to be much less significant, but between us, Gary and I worked out we could have a BIG butterfly without any extra heavy lifting.

Next time, Delgado, Davis and Death
 
Part 9 - Guest Post
"Let's face it, I needed to be free for my trip to Egypt, didn't I?"

- Roger Delgado, convention appearance, 1990
__________________​

Death On The Nile by markedward

PicPart9.jpg


Roger Delgado on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 1978

Delgado is talking to Carson about working with Bette Davis.

"Well, I was flattered to have had the chance to work with such a legend. I'll never forget when filming began, though. Bette Davis showed up in Egypt and she brought her own make-up, mirrors, and lights in case they didn't have any of that stuff there--"

__________________​

From a 1978 People Magazine profile on Elisabeth Sladen

"Sladen landed a few roles on English television, most notably a walk-on role in Dr Thorndyke, which led to her first film appearance in the 1974 film Callan, based on the hit British television series of the same name.

"I was originally cast as the secretary" Sladen recalls "And then Catherine Schell had to back out because of a prior commitment and I wound up playing Jenny, the female lead--"

Sladen's acting was praised and it led to further film and television roles before being cast as Rosalie Otterbourne, the daughter of a romance novelist (played by Angela Lansbury) in the Agatha Christie mystery Death On The Nile--

__________________​

From the book Poirot On Film

Albert Finney was unable to reprise his role as Hercule Poirot from Murder On The Orient Express. The producers felt that with Finney unavailable, they should go in a completely different direction and cast former Doctor Who star Roger Delgado in the role. Delgado had recently made a splash in The Man Who Would Be King, which caught the attention of one of Death On The Nile's producers, Richard B. Goodwin.

As Goodwin would recall, "Poirot is a character part if ever there was one," said producer Goodwin, "and Roger is the greatest character actor around."
__________________​

From a clip on YouTube of costume designer Anthony Powell being interviewed about Death On The Nile, the film that won him a second Academy Award for his creations. The interviewer had just asked Powell about Roger Delgado's suit.

"You know, I seldom get asked that and I'm glad somebody finally took notice. I had planned on Poirot's suit being white, but Roger politely took me aside and asked if we could make it another colour. He was afraid of looking too much like his portrayal of The Doctor. So we settled on beige"

markedward is the author of Two-Time Turtledove Nominee Sam Westwood's Hollywood which is well worth subscribing to

Next time: Grade takes aim and unions strike
 
Last edited:
"Let's face it, I needed to be free for my trip to Egypt, didn't I?"

- Roger Delgado, convention appearance, 1990
__________________​

Death On The Nile by markedward

View attachment 548062

Roger Delgado on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 1978

Delgado is talking to Carson about working with Bette Davis.

"Well, I was flattered to have had the chance to work with such a legend. I'll never forget when filming began, though. Bette Davis showed up in Egypt and she brought her own make-up, mirrors, and lights in case they didn't have any of that stuff there--"

__________________​

From a 1978 People Magazine profile on Elisabeth Sladen

"Sladen landed a few roles on English television, most notably a walk-on role in Dr Thorndyke, which led to her first film appearance in the 1974 film Callan, based on the hit British television series of the same name.

"I was originally cast as the secretary" Sladen recalls "And then Catherine Schell had to back out because of a prior commitment and I wound up playing Jenny, the female lead--"

Sladen's acting was praised and it led to further film and television roles before being cast as Rosalie Otterbourne, the daughter of a romance novelist (played by Angela Lansbury) in the Agatha Christie mystery Death On The Nile--

__________________​

From the book Poirot On Film

Albert Finney was unable to reprise his role as Hercule Poirot from Murder On The Orient Express. The producers felt that with Finney unavailable, they should go in a completely different direction and cast former Doctor Who star Roger Delgado in the role. Delgado had recently made a splash in The Man Who Would Be King, which caught the attention of one of Death On The Nile's producers, Richard B. Goodwin.

As Goodwin would recall, "Poirot is a character part if ever there was one," said producer Goodwin, "and Roger is the greatest character actor around."
__________________​

From a clip on YouTube of costume designer Anthony Powell being interviewed about Death On The Nile, the film that won him a second Academy Award for his creations. The interviewer had just asked Powell about Roger Delgado's suit.

"You know, I seldom get asked that and I'm glad somebody finally took notice. I had planned on Poirot's suit being white, but Roger politely took me aside and asked if we could make it another colour. He was afraid of looking too much like his portrayal of The Doctor. So we settled on beige"

markedward is the author of Two-Time Turtledove Nominee Sam Westwood's Hollywood which is well worth subscribing to

Next time: Grade takes aim and unions strike
C'est magnifique!
 
Part 10
A typical Saturday night on BBC1 in the 70s went like this. Doctor Who would keep the children in front of the TV and the family could join them. Then the Generation Game for the whole family. After that maybe a drama or a film, then comedy like Mike Yarwood, Morecambe and Wise or The Two Ronnies.

Michael Grade set his sights on The Generation Game.

- Whatever Happend To Saturday Night, Channel 4, 1995
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ITV didn't poach Bruce Forsyth away from the BBC. Bruce left The Generation Game to do a stage show, so we needed a new host anyway. The stage show ended rather sooner than expected and LWT swooped in and signed him while he was still a free agent.

- James Gilbert, Quizzing Britain - How We Fell In Love With Game Shows, ITV1 2005 [1]
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Michael Grade: "It's a common format on the continent. Saturday nights are given over to a show that takes up the entire night and features a bit of everything. We took a bet that the thing that was getting people to tune in to BBC1 every Saturday evening was Bruce Forsyth and if we built ITV's Saturday night around his personality, we couldn't fail.

"We were wrong."

Owen Harbottle: "If his subsequent career has proved anything, it wasn't that the British public had tired of Bruce Forsyth. But Bruce Forsyth's Big Night didn't give him a strong format to work with, it just put him in front of the audience, had him flit from format to format and some of the games were pretty weak. Also, it drew the unusual complaint that there wasn't enough Bruce Forsyth. He'd do a little interaction with the public and then hand off to a guest or a comedy sketch. The part that was best structured as a game, The £1,000 Pyramid, was presented by Steve Jones! Madness!"

- Whatever Happend To Saturday Night, Channel 4, 1995
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Briant's time on the show is often overlooked as fans get nostalgic for the gothic ghost stories of the first half of Cuthbertson's tenure and the attempt to ground Doctor Who and gain an older audience that came in the early 80s. But that grittier feel wasn't a reaction to Briant's time, but an extension of it.

Briant brought Doctor Who back to contemporary Britain when he cast Dawn Hope as Tina Gibson, the show's first black companion. Even before that, the ill-fated Deelix Nove showed a willingness to upturn the series orthodoxy and have a companion with a contentious relationship with the Doctor.

- DWM Archive, The Purity Corps, June 1999
__________________

"Was producer of Doctor Who a dream job at the BBC? That's an interesting question. It's an odd one. It probably happens far less that people think, but yes, some jobs are good for your career, some jobs are a punishment and some jobs nobody wants. I think the Doctor Who job meant different things at different times. Maybe in the 60s, it was a good job for people who were going places. I think in the 80s the BBC was beginning to have a very specific vision of Doctor Who and they picked people who could deliver that. When I took on the job, I got the feeling it was…not exactly a dream job, but it was a sign the BBC trusted me.

"Doctor Who was a key part of the BBC1 Saturday evening schedule and they didn't want that spoiling. Paddy and then Peter had been very canny with the budget. Low lighting levels and implied threats give thrills for not much money. I know that's what that era is most famous for, but there was also some good bang crash stuff every series and it was those 'evil beyond time' episodes that helped divert the budget to them.

"Add to that Roger Delgado popping up on film sets on every corner of the globe telling everyone that this show he used to be in really is the bee's knees. Admittedly, most of the time that didn't lead to big names guesting on Doctor Who, but we certainly got some notables because they'd heard from their friends that it was good fun to be in.

"Yes, my episodes are a little bit more gritty than Paddy and Peter's, but I wasn't reacting against them. I'll always be grateful to them for them for leaving me such a well run production. I was free to stretch out a little bit because of that."

- Michael E Briant, Convention appearance, 1993
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"I don't think there's much wrong with the character. The main problem was that on being told that as well as the usual Doctor Who girl, there's now a boy who's not entirely comfortable with the Doctor, a few too many writers just had Deelix argue with the Doctor every few minutes. Not naming any names, but you can tell that some of those scripts would play exactly the same plotwise if you took Deelix out. There's only so much time Graham Williams could spend intergrating Deelix more smoothly into the scripts. If Nicholas Lyndhurst hadn't wanted to leave so soon, I'm sure they'd have made the character work eventually."

"I think that's right, but I think that DWM poll pretty much had to place the companions on what we actually saw on screen. In terms of storytelling potential, Deelix was great. In terms of what we actually got, he's just 'rescued by the Doctor from Space-Nazi youth group, argues and sulks, leaves because actor has better things to do'. We're just lucky that Michael and Graham were so clever that they made it look like a story-arc."

- Convention panel, Classic Series Companions, 2001
__________________

And so we end a story where the Doctor could only save one person and at the time, the viewers couldn't know that the final victory against the Purity Corps was still to come.

- DWM Archive, The Purity Corps, June 1999
__________________

"Also, full marks for not having Deelix and Audrey leave at the same time without having them fall in love or anything like that."

- Convention panel, Classic Series Companions, 2001

__________________

"Dawn Hope, seen recently in the British film Black Joy, is to join Dr Who on the TARDIS as Tina Gibson, the 17th companion in the new series of the long-running BBC1 show." [2]

- The Guardian, February 18th 1978
__________________

Wrong Genre Savvy - In her first few stories, Tina seems to think she's in a realistic drama where even the worst beings have understandable motivations like greed. She doesn't really believe in "evil" or that anything insane enough to want to take over the universe would have any hope of success. She comes around to The Doctor's way of thinking eventually, but she's still likely to give consideration the down-to-Earth explanation (and she's right more than once).

- TV Tropes, Doctor Who Companions and Supporting Cast Character Page
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"Graham Williams' time as script editor sort of spoils my theory about how Doctor Who was being repositioned throughout the 70s. His previous work was on things like Sutherland's Law and Z-Cars. John Kane, however, sets my theory back on its rails. Look at some of his previous work. If you just look at the producers, the big shift in priorities seems to happen in 1983, culminating in 1987. But look at the script editors. That shift of emphasis happens ten years earlier."[3]

- Andrew Barbicane, Convention appearance, 2010
__________________

"In between Graham leaving and me taking over as script editor, I think Tina didn't get very much character on the printed page. I'm willing to take the blame for that and give the credit to Dawn for making her work. It would have been so easy for her to be constantly undercutting The Doctor or trying to make him look stupid. But Dawn managed to make her seem intelligent, but not used to the rules The Doctor plays by.

"Every time she stops The Doctor to question all his talk of 'evil', it doesn't come across that she thinks he's stupid or crazy. She just acts like she thinks this guy she really likes as a good friend is getting a little carried away and she doesn't want him to get hurt. After the first couple of rehearsals, Dawn's performance made it easy to give Tina a proper 'voice' as a character."

- John Kane, DVD Extra, The Observers
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"As proud as I am of having the highest rated stories of any Doctor Who producer, I really can't take the credit.

"The simple version is that ITV offered their technicians a pay raise at a certain amount. The unions made a counter offer for a much higher amount. Both parties dug their heels in and the result was a strike that meant no ITV for something like two and a half months and ratings like 20 million for good old Doctor Who.

"Of course, it also meant that when ITV came back, it gave them an extra large publicity splash for their new Autmun lineup of shows."

- Michael E Briant, DVD Extra, The Observers
__________________

We haven't modernized Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes has always been modern. Amid all the fog and gaslamps are a series of tightly plotted crime procedurals. Just because it's set in the last century doesn't mean it's not going to be pacey. These are stories of life, death and greed.

- Granada press release for Sherlock Holmes, 1979
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Granada have been as good as their word in their adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. Simon Cadell's Holmes and William Gaunt's Watson still live in a world of telegraphs and hansom cabs, but the series is shot and acted in a naturalistic style. It's not the stuff of The Sweeney, you'll be glad to hear. This production brings a very different modern detective to mind. In last night's Scandal In Bohemia, as Holmes gradually realizes that his client is a bully and he's been hired to harass an innocent woman, his clipped and businesslike tones, fell away and he became vague and distracted. I was stunned to realize that Granada had managed to turn Sherlock Holmes into Frank Marker [4]. As I turned over the idea in my mind, that Doyle had invented Public Eye nearly a century before its time, I could only be impressed that this series had made me see Holmes in a new light.

- Nancy Banks-Smith, The Guardian, 1979 [5]
__________________

Sherlock Holmes ended up being part of a spat between some of the ITV companies. Granada thought it would be a strong contender for Saturday nights as ITV tried to rebuild its audience after the strike, but LWT thought it was backward-looking. The Victorian detective fad wasn't something to carry into the 80s as far as they were concerned. This is only a year after LWT's big grab for Saturday night had failed.

It ended up becoming a North vs. South matter as Yorkshire TV were still smarting from 3-2-1 being bumped from Saturdays to make room for Big Night. Things were said in networking meetings, LWT put Holmes at 9:30pm and there was a bit of a mood over everything.

Eventually, LWT were going to take aim at Doctor Who and they'd need goodwill if that failed.

- Raymond Snoddy, Whatever Happend To Saturday Night, Channel 4, 1995 [6]

PicPart10.jpg

Most ITV regions showed Sherlock Holmes at 8 O'Clock
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The IBA had planned a thorough de-Grading, no pun intended, of the Midlands area. Early proposals were that ATV would be awarded the franchise, but Lew Grade's ACC was to divest itself of 49% of its shares and the name ATV was to be replaced entirely. But something in the bid caught the IBA's interest. Not in as many words, the document noted that the BBC had nearly stolen a march on the ITV companies with its successful filmed series and that when other companies followed the leader and brought out their own foppish fin de siecle detectives, ATV swam against the tide with the return bluff old copper Sgt Cork. And Cork was still always playing somewhere. If you wanted to see Sexton Blake, go to a fanclub meeting. If you wanted to see Sgt Cork, turn on a TV. Wiley old Lew might be a good man to keep around.

- Independent Television in Britain: Volume 5: ITV and IBA 1981-92 [7]

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"I was looking forward to just sailing to the end of Season 17 and leaving with the feather in my cap of overseeing the shows largest ratings. Then the rest of 1979 happened and I can't believe I lived to tell the tale."

- Michael E Briant, Convention appearance, 1998
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Iain Cuthbertson, the fourth actor to portray Dr Who, is to leave the BBC television series, it was announced yesterday. He took over from Roger Delgado as the inter-galactic intellectual in 1974, and the audience has increased. He will be seen in the series until next February.

Mr Cuthbertson said he was looking forward to "acting with a broad Scottish accent again".

- The Times, October 25th 1979
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ALL production of TV programmes halted at BBC headquarters last night.

The dispute, which has already cost nearly £1 million, now threatens live shows over Christmas.

The effects will be seen this week in lost and disrupted programmes.

Among the shows to be hit are "The Generation Game," "Blue Peter," "Parkinson," "Multi-Coloured Swap Shop," "Dr Who" and "Nationwide."

Production stopped at the Shepherd's Bush studios when the only crew of technicians still operating walked out on 24-hour strike at the end of their shift.

A total of 540 studio technicians have been "taken off the payroll" since the dispute started with the sound blackout of the Miss World contest.

The technicians—members of the Association of Broadcasting and Allied Staffs—are angry at the BBC's attempt to introduce a new staff grading system.

Last night union leaders were meeting privately in a London hotel to plan their next move.

- Daily Express, November 28th 1979 [8]
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[1] Gilbert was the BBC TV Head of Light Entertainment at the time of Bruce Forsyth's move to ITV. Quizzing Britain is a fictional documentary.

[2] How have they arrived at the number 17? Have they forgotten Katarina? Very probably. This mistake never appeared in the OTL announcement of Mary Tamm, but I thought a little mistake would add verisimilitude. This being The Guardian, I thought they'd try and delay discussion of the first non-white companion until the second paragraph, lest it look like they're defining her by her race alone.

[3] Ooh! I wonder what he means. What's going to happen in 1987?

[4] Frank Marker (played by Alfred Burke) is the lead character in Public Eye (1965-75) a marvelously downbeat and naturalistic series about an "Inquiry Agent" (a private detective, but even more humdrum). ITTL Burke ends up playing Professor Moriarty, but I haven't found a tidy way of including that information.

[5] A real TV critic, but she didn't write a word of this. I thought I could only do so much hiding behind original characters and a friend thought I could get away with ascribing this to a real person

[6] Snoddy is a real media correspondent, but this documentary is fictional. There have been documentaries on this theme, like Who Killed Saturday Night TV in 2004 and The Fight For Saturday Night in 2014. I wanted something that would allow for a little more exposition of the nitty gritty. Snoddy and mid-90s Channel 4 seemed to fit.

[7] A real book, but as none of this appears in there, I've omitted the names of the OTL authors (Lesley Aston and Paul Bonner)

[8] Verbatim from OTL, text copied from the Doctor Who Cuttings Archive


Next time: Another guest post - Blake
 
ALL production of TV programmes halted at BBC headquarters last night.

The dispute, which has already cost nearly £1 million, now threatens live shows over Christmas.

The effects will be seen this week in lost and disrupted programmes.

Among the shows to be hit are "The Generation Game," "Blue Peter," "Parkinson," "Multi-Coloured Swap Shop," "Dr Who" and "Nationwide."

Production stopped at the Shepherd's Bush studios when the only crew of technicians still operating walked out on 24-hour strike at the end of their shift.

A total of 540 studio technicians have been "taken off the payroll" since the dispute started with the sound blackout of the Miss World contest.

The technicians—members of the Association of Broadcasting and Allied Staffs—are angry at the BBC's attempt to introduce a new staff grading system.

Last night union leaders were meeting privately in a London hotel to plan their next move.

- Daily Express, November 28th 1979 [8]
I take it this is the same shutdown that Killed "Shada " in the OTL.
Did Adams get involve with the Show in this Timeline?
Did we still get "City of Death"?
And Did we get "Shada " or did it suffer the same fate as in OTL?
 
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