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

Teaser
  • "Well, that's the introductions out of the way. Derrick, how did you choose your new Doctor."

    "Well, it was a very fraught process..."

    "Ah, the truth comes out. I thought you liked me!"

    "I didn't mean it like that. I was very lucky finding you, but getting there wasn't easy. I'd thought we'd have a funny Doctor like Pat had been, so I started in that direction."

    "He asked every actor in Britain before he asked me. Some of them twice"

    "It was not like that and you know it! But yes, a lot of the funny types I asked were busy or not interested. I had all these photos of actors in front of me and there was one of Harry Worth that had been sent over from the Radio Times, I think. It was a still from the one you were in, you were playing a Russian, weren't you?"

    "Something like that. I got a lot of Russian parts in those days. Once I got cast as Doctor Who, I said goodbye to those roles. Just as I was finishing my first series on Doctor Who, I bumped into an actor who thanked me personally for freeing up those kinds of parts so he could be in...Codename I think it was."

    "Who was that? Vladek Sheybal?"

    "No, it was Iain Cuthbertson."

    "Oh! Hahahaha! Whatever happened to him? Anyway, yes I suddenly decided to go in a different direction from the more comedic actors I was looking at."

    "Jon Pertwee was one of them."

    "I wasn't going to reveal any names!"

    "He didn't mind; he told me himself. Told me every time we met up, actually. Lovely man. If he'd accepted, I don't know where I'd be. I probably woudn't have had the chance to be such good friends with him."

    "Well, he found his niche dashing around in a velvet smoking jacket and a frilly shirt being all heroic, so it's a good job he didn't get to play Doctor Who."

    - From the commentary track of Doctor Who: Spearhead From Space
     
    Part 1
  • The role of Lycus was originally to have been played by Phil Silvers but, when he fell ill, he was replaced by Jon Pertwee.

    - IMDB Trivia for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
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    "I got a message from my agent 'Richard Lester wants you to fly to Spain because Phil Silvers is ill or crazy or both'. Talking to some people on the set, I got the impression he'd had some disagreements with someone behind the camera, but I don't know if that had anything to do with his illness. He certainly didn't make a recovery in time to prevent me playing Lycus. It opened up a whole new phase of my career and I don't think it didn't any harm to Phil's career. I did try and avoid him ever after, though." [1]

    - Jon Pertwee, Hiding In Limelight, 1984 [2]
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    "You recently revealed on a DVD commentary that Jon Pertwee was one of the people you considered for The Doctor..."

    "I didn't reveal it! A certain someone decided to blurt it out. Yes, Jon was near the top of my list but he was working in the States at the time. He was doing something with Lucille Ball, I think, and thought that was better than coming back over here and playing Doctor Who for some reason."

    "And then you thought about asking Harry Worth?"

    "No. The Harry Worth thing was someone trying to be helpful. I had a desk full of photos of actors and...well, not being able to get the part cast had been keeping me up late. I was looking at the picture of Harry Worth I'd been sent from...somewhere within the corporation. I'm not saying anything against Harry Worth but he was a capital C 'Comedian' and was one the BBC's biggest comedy stars, even if someone asked him to be Doctor Who he'd have turned it down. As you all know, there was someone else in that photo and he's a captivating fellow, isn't he?"

    - Derrick Sherwin, personal appearance at Doctor Who Convention, 2000
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    A picture of Harry Worth, Stefan Gryff and Roger Delgado from a copy of Radio Times

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    A NEW WORLD OF HEROISM FOR DR. WHO

    "I have had a long career playing villains or Arab sultans and occasionally, villainous Arab sultans. Being Doctor Who is a new challenge for me. I've never been the hero before." Roger Delgado's dark eyes twinkle as he considers his new vocation.

    - The Daily Express 23rd June 1969
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    One question I'm asked by every interviewer and fan is "Did you ever think when you started that eventually you'd still be talking about the show today?". The answer is YES! Deep down, I knew that the show was going to last forever. It had been a success for six years without me and I like to think that I had something to do with keeping that popularity going. So when I'm invited to a convention in America to tell my stories to hundreds of people, I'm not the least bit surprised. Doctor Who is wonderful and I hope the next actor or actress in the part is fully prepared to join a worldwide family of delightful people.

    And I had a new family onscreen. While Caroline John is a skilled actress (she does the most convincing crying acting I've ever seen) for the part of Liz Shaw, she mostly just had to allow her own vast intelligence to shine through. I came to depend on Nicholas Courtney, as he had experience of working on Doctor Who. He'd worked with the formidable William Hartnell playing some sort of space spy and then gone onto do two stories with Patrick Troughton as Brigadier Knight. [3] Now he was back as a regular part of the show and with help from John Levene, who could steal a scene with one line, the family was complete. But then, for a moment, it seemed like it was all over.

    No sooner had I started work with Derrick Sherwin than I was being introduced to our new producer Barry Letts. Not that I had any doubts about Barry, we'd worked together in the days when Barry was an actor. But despite what you might hear from my co-stars, I can worry with the best of them. Barry's attitude - brisk, confident and businesslike - helped set my mind at ease and his praise for my performance did wonders for my fragile ego, but I still feared that the-powers-that-be were going to bring the axe down. By the time I came to be introduced to a third producer, my ego was sufficiently robust that I felt I could just about manage to keep the show going exuding a little bit of my own confidence. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    - Roger Delgado, "Scornfuls, Spaniards, Sleuths And Spacemen", 1999
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    [1] Here's the POD. IOTL, Silvers made a "miraculous recovery" upon hearing that Jon Pertwee had been drafted in to replace him, but ITTL, he genuinely comes down with something that prevents his playing Lycus.

    [2] His first autobiography has changed title, too. IOTL it was called Moon Boots And Dinner Suits, not a reference to Doctor Who, but clearly happy to convey that impression. ITTL the events leading to the title never occur and it wouldn't have the same meaning anyway. The publisher has come up with something suitably actorish, but far less fun.

    [3] Our POD has caused one big shuffle of actors. In some cases I've left things as OTL, mainly because a little bit of parallelism will help keep me oriented as much as any of you reading this (at least to begin with). Anyway, ITTL David Langton was available to play Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart and Nicholas Courtney played Captain Knight, as was originally planned. When it comes time to pilot UNIT with The Invasion, Douglas Camfield will call upon Courtney to return (I'm sure I read somewhere that Courtney returned because Camfield liked him). There'll be a few lines in The Invasion detailing Captain Knight's unusual recovery and remarkable promotion.

    Next time: Mike Yates gets tough and where does Jo Grant do her shopping?​
     
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    Part 2
  • Barry Letts: "Playing the hero meant a lot to Roger and it made him so happy, so confident, he managed to carry the viewers along for the ride. The only time I saw him less than happy was when it was time to replace Caroline."

    Delgado: "Yes, I caused a bit of a fuss, I'm afraid. I was very insecure. Derrick being replaced with Barry had made me worry a little bit. The prospect of Caroline being replaced made me panic. Caroline took me to one side and said she was going to have to leave anyway. Unfortunately, I'd already shouted at Barry by that point."

    Letts: (laughs) "It just goes to show how reasonable Roger is that he seems to consider that a tantrum. I've had actors throw tantrums at me, Roger just stated his position very firmly."

    Terrance Dicks: "What had upset Roger is that Barry and I didn't want a companion who was as clever as The Doctor, which Liz Shaw was. Roger thought that wasn't a good enough reason to replace Caroline. We offered to let him have a say in casting a new companion and he said he'd be very happy to be involved. The next time it came it up for discussion he said 'Oh, anyone you pick will be fine' and that was the end of that."

    - DVD Extra, Terror Of The Autons
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    Jo got a quick, confused impression of a spacious room with several laboratory benches. Perched on a stool at one of the benches was a dark skinned man with a pointed black beard. He might have been a Sultan or a Maharaja. But while the elegant white suit he was wearing suggested a warm climate, it was much more the suit of a English gentleman. Before him on the bench lay a complex piece of electronic circuitry. Leaning forward he made a careful adjustment. The electronic circuit began to glow, turning a fierce cherry-red.

    Jo Grant might have been inexperienced, but she knew how to cope with an emergency. On the wall nearby was a fire extinguisher. She grabbed it from its bracket and dashed into the laboratory and squirted a jet of white foam on to the circuit.

    There was a bang and a flash, and the apparatus belched a cloud of dense black smoke. The Doctor caught the full blast and doubled up coughing and choking. 'It's all right,' said Jo kindly. 'No need to worry, I've dealt with it.'

    The Doctor looked his experiment, completely buried beneath white foam. Resignedly he plunged his hands into the foam, extracting a charred and sticky tangle of blackened circuitry. 'That's certainly one way of putting it. I'm more inclined to say you've ruined it. Steady-state micro-welding always creates intense heat. It's perfectly safe. This was three months' delicate work. Now then, may I ask who you are?'

    Jo sighed. 'My name's Jo Grant,' she said. 'I'm your new assistant.'

    The Doctor looked down at her in speechless astonishment. He saw a very small, very pretty girl with brown hair and green eyes, who looked as if she should be at a fashion show or a party full of pop singers and movie stars. 'I'm sorry, my dear,' he said gently. 'I really don't think you'd be suitable.'

    'I'm a fully trained agent,' said Jo eagerly. 'I've just finished the training course. Codes, safe-breaking, explosives...'

    The Doctor's face broke into a suddenly wry smile. 'Fire fighting?' he added gently.

    Jo looked so crestfallen that the Doctor couldn't help feeling sorry for her. 'You see,' he explained, 'I really need a very experienced scientist, someone who could help me in my work.'

    'I took “O” level in science...'

    The Doctor shook his head sadly. 'You'd be wasting your other talents. I need a very specific set of skills. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a great deal to do.'

    - Doctor Who And The Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks, Target Books [1]
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    Letts: "I've had a few conversations, some of them with people who should know better, where people talk about casting as if it's just picking a name off a list. But if you look at Doctor Who, it shows exactly the kind of decisions that have to be taken. I'd had some idea about an exotic companion, but Roger was exotic, so I had to go in the opposite direction. We made the new companion very, very English. Well spoken, well-connected, shopped at Biba. You get the idea. Gabrielle Drake gave us exactly what we wanted.

    "We decided she needed a love interest in UNIT, but we couldn't go with someone too 'officer class', we needed to contrast with Jo Grant's finishing school manners. Ray Lonnen fit the bill perfectly. He's just well-spoken enough, but there's something a little tough about him. It wasn't unusual for him to be cast as heavies."

    - DVD Extra, Terror Of The Autons
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    Captain Yates stuck his head into the laboratory and called, 'Doctor?' He broke
    off as he saw an overalled figure busy in the corner. 'Hullo,' he said, 'what's
    going on?'

    The man spoke without looking up. 'Telephone mechanic, sir. Just finishing.'

    The engineer packed away his tools and prepared to leave. 'Got your pass?'
    asked Yates suddenly.

    The man bristled. 'I've had this pass checked so much it's worn to a frazzle,' he said testily.

    'Pass!' Yates repeated firmly. The man produced a grubby pass from his overall pocket. Yates examined it.

    'That's fine. Thank you very much.'

    The man gave him a reproachful look, took back the pass, and went off.

    There was something oddly familiar about the look, thought Yates. It was the look some of the officers gave him when he was a private and then an NCO. It was the way some officers looked at him now, even though he had pips on his shoulder. Yates had worked his way up to the rank of Captain and sometimes he'd find himself up against someone who was born to 'officer class'. Fortunately, Brigadier Knight, for all his immaculate manners, was a true soldier who respected hard work and good results. Yates tried to shake himself from his revery, but there was something about that phone repair man he did not like.

    - Doctor Who And The Auton Invasion by Terrance Dicks, Target Books
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    Letts: "After all that, we decided to give The Doctor an arch-enemy. Now for an arch-villain there was one obvious choice, but unfortunately for us, he was playing The Doctor. So, The Doctor is somewhat exotic. Jo Grant is very English, very upper-middle class. Captain Yates is more down-to-earth. So for The Master, we went to the very top."

    Dicks: "Mac Hulke has to take some of the credit for that one. Never on the side of the ruling classes if he could help it; Mac suggested the new baddie should be a public school bully type. We were discussing it in the office, Roger was there, he overheard us and said 'Toby Meres' and it clicked into place. There was this spy show at the time called Callan and one of the spies was this sneering bully. Eton, Sandhurst and the Guards. Born to rule and he knew it! We had a long list of names, but at the top was Edwin Richfield and we cheered when he said 'yes'."

    Letts: "Edwin Richfield had the most wonderful sneer. It let viewers know that he was up to no good the moment they saw him. It also meant that we didn't have to have him do anything too terrible to get the idea across that he was an especially bad bad guy.

    "Edwin was a very actorly actor. I wouldn't say he took himself too seriously, but he did take the work seriously and Roger responded to that. Roger was himself a very meticulous actor and with Edwin treating it as seriously as if he was playing Uncle Vanya at The Old Vic, Roger developed a sense of when to play with Edwin or against him. Roger was able to bring some anger, a little shade to his performance."[2]

    - DVD Extra, Terror Of The Autons

    A mock-up cover for a copy of Starburst magazine. The cover features Edwin Richfield as The Master in black jacket and black turtleneck sweater.


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    "That's enough about The Master because...there she is! Gabrielle Drake as Jo Grant, looking like the ideal English rose."

    "Though she was actually born in India."

    "And I was born within the sound of Bow Bells, but I never get Cockney parts. As an actor, you are what you look like. Actually, one thing I loved about being Doctor Who was all the letters I'd get from Indian and Pakistani children saying how much they loved seeing a goodie who looked like them. Some of them went on to become famous actors themselves. That's why shows like Doctor Who are important. They reach children and give them something to value. Sorry, Barry, you were about to say something."

    "Just to say that having Roger as the lead did no harm to overseas sales."

    "So everywhere they look like me, they bought Doctor Who?"

    "You could say that."

    "I do keep getting cheques from places I can't pronounce. I got one yesterday, just enough to put the first downpayment on a packet of cornflakes. Look at Gabrielle, isn't she beautiful? She's almost as beautiful as me."

    *chuckles*

    "You may laugh but that's why Christine gave me that white suit. It was to contrast with, and I quote, my 'dark good looks'."

    "That's Christine Rawlins, costume designer for Season 7 of Doctor Who."

    "Oh, everyone listening to this already knew that. They know more than we do."

    - Roger Delgado and Barry Letts, commentary track for Terror Of The Autons
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    [1] This is, of course a huge chunk of the actual novelization, paraphrased a little and with changes to help convey the differences between TTL's and OTL's Third Doctors.

    [2] This is me winging it. I base the reference to Richfield being "actorly" on an interview I saw on YouTube where he spoke seriously and passionately about his theatrical work.

    Next time, Jon Pertwee as a dashing dandy dedicated to derring-do
     
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    Part 3
  • "THE INCREDIBLE ROBERT BALDICK"

    by Terry Nation

    Well, that title had to go for a start. Maybe it was my background in comedy, but the title struck me as pure Carry On and this was meant to be my big break in drama. Terry Nation protested that it was the name of a friend of his and he had permission to use it [1], but once I'd called into question, everyone else followed. Later on, I received a script entitled:

    "THE INCREDIBLE GABRIEL BAINE"

    by Terry Nation

    Much better.

    - Jon Pertwee, Hiding In Limelight
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    Gabriel Baine is a flamboyant Victorian adventurer, scientist and investigator into the unknown and uncanny. He is visited at his manor house by a clergymen friend who asks his help in investigating the murder of a young woman in the crypt of a ruined church. Baine travels to the scene of the crime in his personal, armour-plated train "The Tsar", with his scientific assistant and burly gamekeeper. There will be a "gothic horror" feel around the production and science-fiction elements of a "Jules Verne" kind will also be present.

    The programme is written by Terry Nation and directed by Cyril Coke. Rehearsal and recording will take place in TC8 [2] July 3rd and 4th.

    - BBC Drama Early Warning Synopsis
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    "There was a question about Gabriel Baine. Someone's done their homework, I was involved a little bit in that, but not enough to have my name on it. Jon Pertwee was already cast when I came along. He'd come back from America and done a couple of horror movies. *looks to host* Craig? Right, The House That Dripped Blood and Scream And Scream Again. I think those had put him in someone's mind. I know Shaun Sutton, who was head of drama, was very keen on the casting.

    My involvement was only a few meetings. They were making a pilot as part of the Drama Playhouse strand. Terry Nation had this idea about a Victorian science-fiction detective and he really thought it could be a hit series. I think he was still living down the disappointment of not being able to get his Dalek spin-off made. Anyway, I was brought in as prospective series producer and Terry wanted to script edit the series, which we all agreed was a bit too much. But Terry came out of the agreement with a script supervisor role and approval on any script used. That would be fine, but the hope was this was going to be a co-production. I hope I'm not boring you with all this office politics. No? Well, co-productions can be a nightmare.

    I'd left Doctor Who to help Peter Bryant on Paul Temple. That was a co-production and the co-producers wanted to sack Valerie Leon as Mrs Temple and the BBC wanted to keep her [3]. The BBC won that one. That was enough of a headache with two production companies, with Gabriel Baine, there'd be the BBC, the co-producer and then Terry Nation all having different ideas. As the transmission of the pilot got closer, there was a meeting. It was agreed that if it took off, it could be really good for merchandise and certain parts of the Corporation were smiling on that prospect. I managed to persuade the powers-that-be not to assign me to Gabirel Baine. I was considered to have distinguished myself on the relaunch of Doctor Who and on Paul Temple and therefore the BBC owed me an easy job. I was asked who should replace me and I said Barry Letts, not because he'd replaced me on Doctor Who, but because as current Doctor Who producer, he'd know how to handle Terry Nation and that was going be the number one task for any producer of Gabriel Baine."

    - Derrick Sherwin, Doctor Who Convention appearance
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    The Incredible Gabriel Baine (BBC-1) stars Jon Pertwee, who seems to have given up gurning and funny voices for good and, on this evidence, he's made a sound decision. It's a kind of take-home Hammer film wrapped in silver foil and should rate like mad. The well-heeled hero is a piece of nineteenth-century fuzz, dedicated to fighting evil in its more occult manifestations. He steams about in a special train — which should add the railway nuts to the horoscope consulters and swell the ratings even further. Precociously democratic, the Incredible has a pair of polymath servants who ask 'Doctor, what are we up against?' and when he answers 'All in good time, all in good time.' gaze at him wondering worship instead of crowning him with the fire-tongs.

    - Clive James, review, The Observer, August 27th 1972 [4]
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    "I was brought in because everyone was anticipating a headache and thought a Doctor Who producer might be the best person for dealing with Terry Nation. As it turned out, it was relatively smooth sailing. Terry had learned his lesson with the attempts to get a Dalek spinoff off the ground. Some of the backing for that was coming from a toy manufacturer and the closer they got to production, the more and more rights they seemed to want [5]. With Gabriel Baine, Terry had secured interest from a television company, Metromedia, who wanted a television series to sell first and foremost. Merchandising rights were discussed, but Gabriel Baine, as popular as it is, is hardly the stuff of colouring books."

    - Barry Letts, The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
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    The BBC has announced it is to go into co-production with Metromedia Producers Corporation on The Adventures of Gabriel Baine, after the success of a Drama Playhouse pilot on BBC-1 earlier this year. Jon Pertwee is set to star. Baine's servants Wingham and Selling have been recast from the pilot and will be played by Ian Marter and Neil McCarthy respectively. Unusually for a BBC drama, the series will be shot entirely on 35mm film.

    - The Stage, November 1972
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    A mocked up title screen for The Adventures Of Gabriel Baine. Title in Art Nouveau lettering, Pertwee's face in an inset in the centre, train on viaduct in the background

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    "I've had a wonderful time in the States, but one thing I missed about Britain is that decisions seem to get taken quicker here. In the US, there's a lot more studio politics and the man who tells you 'yes' today might not be there tomorrow. Over here if someone like Lew Grade or Peter Rogers says you're in, you're in."

    And after Gabriel Baine, what else is Jon Pertwee up to? "I'm going to do a guest appearance on Doctor Who," he says "I've been mates with Roger Delgado since he came to the premiere of There's A Girl In My Soup and had us all in stitches at the party afterwards. I'm going to be playing the President of the Time Lords and I send the other Doctors, Bill Hartnell and Pat Troughton, to help Roger."

    - Jon Pertwee interview, Radio Times, 1972

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    [1] This is true. I OTL the pilot for The Incredible Robert Baldick went out on October 2nd 1972 starring Robert Hardy as Baldick. The full story can be found here http://www.the-mausoleum-club.org.uk/Index/Gazette/Incredible Robert Baldick.pdf

    [2] Studio 8 of BBC Television Centre, which is the same studio that was used IOTL.

    [3] Another little shuffle of actors and a reversal of circumstances, just for giggles. IOTL, Ros Drinkwater played Paul's wife Steve and the BBC wanted her dropped, whereas co-producers Taurus Films wanted her kept. Taurus won that argument.

    [4] Mostly directly transcribed from James's OTL review of Robert Baldick

    [5] The Dalek spinoff came so close that studio time was booked. As detailed here


    Next Time, a new producer, a new companion and Mrs Whitehouse
     
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    Part 4
  • A couple of things I was planning on doing this week aren't happening. I've had time to get part 4 into shape, so here it is ahead of schedule.

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    "Roger and Pat had very different working styles. Roger was always very meticulous. He'd be word perfect and have a lot of performance ideas mapped out in his head beforehand whereas Pat would experiment. Pat would convey the meaning of the lines, but change the actual words. He'd try different moods.

    "One day at rehearsals, Jon Pertwee took Roger aside and said 'Why do you put up with this? You're the star.' But Roger had worked with Pat several times before and said 'If I put up with him, then maybe the next Doctor will put up with me'. I knew something was going on in Roger's mind.

    "As much as Roger loved and still loves playing The Doctor, I had an inkling that he was considering when to move on as early as Season 9. After Season 8 had finished, he went off to Spain that Summer to be in Charlton Heston's film of Antony And Cleopatra. Roger's not boastful, but he kept mentioning it a lot and I did wonder if he feared missing out on more work like that, but I also know he worried if he quit Doctor Who, he'd be back playing the 'scornfuls and Spaniards'.

    "I bumped into him after he'd done The Man Who Would Be King and I could tell he was half-delighted to be in a film with Sean Connery and Michael Caine and half-deflated that he'd got a part that an Indian actor had dropped out of.

    "Obviously, we know now that it worked out in the end. He got the perfect role for someone of his background and he got to be the hero again."

    - Barry Letts, DVD Extra, The Three Doctors
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    I was torn. I wanted to be The Doctor forever, but I still had ambition to demonstrate my acting range in other roles and since I'd proved that I could be a hero, my agent told me I might be able to get something more than the 'scornfuls and Spaniards' that had dogged me for so long.

    The change came during the story called The Three Doctors. Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell had been able to come back to the series. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to work with William on the story. He had to be pre-filmed and the only time all three of us got to be 'The Three Doctors' was for publicity photos. But working with Patrick was wonderful. At least, it was wonderful for Patrick and myself, poor Lennie Mayne the director and Barry Letts were tearing their hair out. Pat and I have a similar silly sense of humour and for every one line of the script we said, we'd add twenty utterly unusable ones in rehearsal.

    The moment that stuck with me was when Patrick was in dress rehearsal, looking at his costume and said 'There's no such thing as an ex-Doctor Who is there? Time travellers can always come back.' And it was then I realized that I could leave the show, take up other acting engagements but still be Doctor Who.

    - Roger Delgado, "Scornfuls, Spaniards, Sleuths And Spacemen", 1999
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    "I am glad that Roger decided he'd do one more series before he'd quit. Gabrielle and Ray were leaving at the end of Season 10 and I knew I was going to hand off to a new producer and script editor as Terrance and I moved onto Gabriel Baine. A change of Doctor might have been too much all at once. I did the casting for the new companion, left some notes of ideas I had, but ultimately let the new team work out the specifics of her character."

    - Barry Letts, DVD Extra, The Three Doctors
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    Actress Jenny Twigge, above, is to play Dr. Who's new assistant when the BBC-TV series returns in December.

    Jenny, 23, will appear as a student from the 23rd Century.

    - The Daily Mirror, June 27th 1973
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    "As Paddy Russell moved into the Doctor Who production office and I moved out, I just said 'You have a year to find a new Doctor and watch out for Mrs Whitehouse'. She said 'You leave Mrs Whitehouse to me'."

    - Barry Letts, DVD Extra, The Poisoned Earth
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    "Most of the men in the TV industry didn't know how to talk to Mary Whitehouse, which gave her an advantage." Paddy Russell recalls. "They treated her as a housewife who should have stayed at home, or as an old battleaxe, or they were too scared of appearing to bully her. She didn't have that advantage with me."

    It's typical Doctor Who irony that the period of the show that most fans agree was the scariest is the one Mary Whitehouse had the least traction on attacking.

    "We didn't show anything horrific," Paddy explains. "It was all done with atmosphere. As much as I'd like to take credit for that, I had the perfect script editor for spooky atmospheres."

    - Paddy Russell interview, Doctor Who Magazine, 1996
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    "Personally, I think she was taking a hell of a risk, I'd never even written for Doctor Who before, but she liked my work of Ace Of Wands and I had done script editing at the BBC before, Z-Cars and other things. Maybe it was working with Pamela Lonsdale at Thames that swung it. I had no problems working for a woman. Not that I think that was a problem for anyone else. That might be why she picked me over some of the more obvious names.

    The most obvious name was Robert Holmes, but he'd been offered the script editor job on Doctor Thorndyke, so he was out and eventually, I was in.

    The first job was deciding what sort of companion Jenny was going to be playing. There'd been talk of having a companion who was a women's libber but I had the idea of taking it a step further. Have her be someone plucked from the future and stranded in the 70s. Someone for whom women's liberation was the norm. The attitudes of the 70s were occasionally laughable to her, especially when they were being presented as modern.

    There was the potential problem of her having too much future knowledge. Paddy suggested we get round that by making her a student of Medieval history. She could have just enough knowledge of previous times that we didn't have to have everything explained to her, but she didn't know everything that would happen before it happened. We could pick and choose what she knew between the Renaissance and the 23rd Century."

    - PJ Hammond, DVD Extra, The Time Thieves
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    "Hi, guys. It's me, Elijah, again. Welcome to part two of my look at the companions of Doctor Who.

    "Let's start with Kay Gee played by Jenny Twigge from 1973 to 1975.

    "After Jo Grant and her endless procession of floaty dresses, Kay Gee was the ultimate sensibly dressed Doctor Who girl. Kay was a student of Medieval history with the twist that she was studying it in the 23rd Century. She regarded her 1970s redbrick university as a venerable old seat of learning and the first we see of her, she's having to explain to a fellow student that, no, the 20th Century doesn't count as Medieval, even though it was hundreds of years ago.

    "Thanks to Kay's curiosity, Doctor Who had its first pure historical in 7 years with The Taking Of The Tower seeing the Doctor and Kay get involved with the Peasants' Revolt. Nowadays, however, Kay's more noted for her devoted following in the LGBT side of Doctor Who fandom, particulary the L-part.

    "Kay was from a future time when the battle of the sexes, as they called it then, was well and truly over and women dressed any way they liked. She went in for hard-wearing, practical, demin outfits and one time caused quite a stir by wearing a man's dinner suit to a formal dinner. Let's just say that she helped a number of girls in the 70s come to personal realizations.

    "If you're wondering about her name. In an early pitch meeting for the new companion, Kay was meant to be a humanoid robot from the 'KG' series of androids, which got turned into a proper name by the humans around her. While that part got thrown away, the name stuck."

    - Elijah Explains Classic Who, YouTube, 2017
    __________________

    "Roger is a very intelligent actor and in that last series of his, he turned up the warmth and that twinkle in his eye. I have no doubt that he was doing it deliberately in reaction to the direction Peter and I were taking the show. Sorry what was that? Did he have a problem with the way the show was changing? No, I think if that was the case, he'd have come to me and told me openly."

    - Paddy Russell , convention appearance, 1990

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    __________________​

    "Paddy gives me too much credit. I think it was unconscious on my part. I suppose I had noticed that it was becoming, what was it you called it, Gary? M.R. James for middle-schoolers. I do like that.

    She's right, if I had a problem, I would have told her. If anything, I was more comfortable in that last series. So much done by suggestion and yes, I supposed I knew that The Doctor could put himself between the scary things and the audience. Paddy had a rule 'scares, not terror' and I think the show lived up to that.

    Do I regret leaving when I did? Yes and no. It was a lovely family and a wonderful, wonderful role, but I did have that actorish thing of wanting to do new things and, let's face it, I needed to be free for my trip to Egypt, didn't I?"

    - Roger Delgado, convention appearance, 1990
    __________________​

    "I think all the Victorian detectives did have an influence on casting a replacement for Roger, yes. But only insofar as I wanted to cast against that type. Sexton Blake, Dr. Thorndyke and I suppose Gabriel Baine, too, were all so…sexy! I didn't want Doctor Who to get lost amid all the dashing adventurers. Now, I'm not for one moment suggesting Iain is unsexy, but he doesn't trade on sex appeal.

    He'd caught my eye playing Dr. Arnold in the BBC's classic serial version of Tom Brown's School Days. He had that wonderful avuncular quality that would set itself nicely against the scaries in Doctor Who. If needed, he could be a big teddy bear, but he'd had a lot of experience playing some very bad bad guys, so we could always bring out an edge. A bit like Roger, we could show him scaring the monsters, but he'd be like a favourite uncle to the companions and the children at home."

    - Paddy Russell, DVD extra, Genesis Of The Daleks
    __________________​

    Who's Who: Budgie and The Borderers star Iain Cuthbertson will be taking over the role of Dr Who in the BBC's long-running science fiction series at the end of the year. Glaswegian Cuthbertson is probably best known for playing Soho "businessman" Charlie Endell on ITV's Budgie.

    - The Guardian, February 16th 1974

    Next time: The Third Doctor's last word as he faces the Army Of Hate

    Thanks to Andrew Hickey who supplied the title and idea for The Taking Of The Tower
     
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    Part 5
  • "It was a strange sensation, leaving Doctor Who. I'd never been in one place for so long as an actor. 5 years as the lead wasn't something I'd experienced before. I hadn't realized how attached to it all I'd become. I think my main regret was not getting to do more with Jenny. She was a lovely contrast to Gabrielle and it would have been nice to explore the different relationship Doctor Who had with Kay as opposed to Jo."

    - Roger Delgado, Commentary track Army Of Hate DVD
    __________________

    "It's ridiculous that people are complaining that the current series is 'too political'. Have they forgotten Army Of Hate? The 3rd Doctor is destroyed because of racism, no two ways about it."

    - Twitter status, November 2019
    __________________

    "Ironic, really. I'm an alien. I'm from a different planet entirely, but those people hate me because I look like a human, just not the right kind of human."

    - The Doctor, Army Of Hate Episode 5, BBC1 June 1st 1974
    __________________

    "Both Paddy and Roger were concerned that the story shouldn't become a Play For Today with The Doctor plonked in the middle. I knew where they were coming from. A couple of times as script editor, I'd had to remind writers that this was going to go out in a Saturday teatime slot.

    "More than once I've had fans say how powerful it would have been to have had Brigadier Knight be possessed by The Hate. That ignores the type of show Doctor Who is. Even as you talk about real life evils, the children had to have a little bit of certainty.

    "That's also why the script doesn't use the word 'racism', but talks about 'looking different'. Make it a straightforward idea that the younger viewers can let roll around their minds without the sense that the news headlines have parked themselves in the middle of their escapist show."

    - PJ Hammond, DVD Extra, Army Of Hate
    __________________

    "I directed Roger's last story and everything went very smoothly. I think the only problem was that Roger is something like 5'8" tall and Iain is 6'4". We ended up going a tiny but over budget making a replica of Roger's white suit that would fit Iain.

    "Have I mentioned how intelligent Iain is? He is. His father was a famous scientist and Iain himself has degrees in modern languages. Roger knew this, they'd probably worked together before. Anyway, Roger, who'd had a Belgian mother and Spanish father, decided to start swearing at Iain in French and Spanish to see if he could make him corpse. Things got a little end-of-term and Roger has that kind of sense of humour."

    - Paddy Russell interview, Doctor Who Magazine, 1996
    __________________

    "I did have a nice little speech planned for The Doctor before he regenerated, but Roger decided he'd had a better idea and I'm not going to say he was wrong."

    - PJ Hammond, DVD Extra, Army Of Hate
    __________________

    "Kismet."

    - The Doctor's last word, Army Of Hate Episode 6, BBC1 June 8th 1974
    __________________

    Feted as it is, The Adventures of Gabriel Baine is a fluke in terms of British television exports. It bypasses the problems British companies have with American networks by going straight to the syndication market and its status as a co-production is driven more by its creator, Terry Nation, than by the BBC. We can't look to the Corporation for a new generation of British exports.

    - Martin Aldenham, The Guardian, November 12th 1973 [1]
    __________________

    "Gabriel Baine was a lovely expensive-looking series that was an overseas hit and even splitting the money three ways, it generated a nice income for the BBC. But the BBC is always damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. When it makes big popular hits, the industry says 'private companies should be doing that'. When it makes specialized, niche programmes, the industry says 'why should we subsidize this elitist stuff?'. Of course, the whole point of the BBC is to strike a balance.

    "Some people had been expecting, hoping maybe, that this would bring about a strand of BBC filmed action series, but apart from Quiller a couple of years later, the thinking at the BBC was that it was best to channel the money back into prestige productions. Too many shows like Baine and the 'unfair competition' argument would have raised its head. It fell to the ITV companies to pick up where Baine left off."

    - Barry Letts, The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
    __________________

    Insufferable, arrogant, brilliant! Doctor Thorndyke is a new 13 part film series from London Weekend Television starring Roy Marsden as Dr. Thorndyke and David Swift as his friend Dr. Jervis as they solve the most perplexing crimes 19th Century London has to offer!

    - London Weekend Television press release, 1973
    __________________

    "Gabriel Baine didn't kick off the Victorian detective boom by itself. LWT had had to shut down its film series department, because it was wasting money[2]. Thames had started branching out with their Euston Films subsidiary, that probably bothered them a bit. But the BBC having this thing shot on 35mm, LWT weren't going to let that lie.

    "Thorndyke was a good choice, the only problem was that Thames had already adapted two Dr. Thorndyke stories as part of their Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes series and at one point, LWT were wondering if they could maybe do something to stop the second one going out. In the end, they decided it wasn't worth the bad publicity, but it meant Thames had got wind of LWT's new project. Quite how R. Austin Freeman's estate managed to sell the rights twice over, I don't know and this was only a few years after the BBC had their own Thorndyke series.

    "Anyway, Thorndyke was well received, Thames decided they're going to get Euston Films in the Victorian detective business. ATV sees what's happening and decide to bring back Sgt. Cork. In the end, we got the credit for it all and they later called 'the Baine Boom'."

    - Terrance Dicks, outtake from The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
    __________________

    "There was something of a backlash against Baine in the BBC. Gerald Savory [3] had an idea for a series of plays centred around Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples. A real prestige production and all to be made on videotape in the studio. The BBC was eager for another big export hit like Elizabeth R or The Pallisers and they'd been studio-based shows.

    "There was some disquiet in the Corporation at how much all this was going to cost, so Metromedia was asked if they were interested in co-producing, but they weren't interested. Once they said no, everyone else who might have co-financed it started to think 'What do Metromedia know that we don't, they've got a close relationship with the Beeb'. So that was the end of that. Shame really, I think it could have been a really interesting project. [4]

    - Barry Letts, outtake from The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
    __________________

    British TV is getting clogged up with Victorian geniuses. No sooner had Gabriel Baine chuffed off our screens in his private train than Dr. Thorndyke returned superbly embodied by Roy Marsden, he of the dark brown voice and imperious sneer (leavened with the occasional irresistible smirk). While they might appear to be cut from the same cloth (and LWT is probably hoping Baine's fans feel that way about Thorndyke) we're actually witnessing a dual between two different type of hero. We have the men of action on one side and the thinkers on the other.

    Gabriel Baine, with his fancy togs and anachronistic kung fu, is something of an action man reaction to Doctor Who, played with charming stillness by Roger Delgado. Baine is a superb swordsman, boxer and marksman. If the good Doctor's ever in a fight, he has to resort to low cunning; holding off an attack with a rolled-up newspaper (or in the last series, a salami) just long enough for his clever trap to be sprung.

    So after Baine we got Thorndyke, who saves the day by thinking, talking and driving his best friend Dr. Jervis to distraction. David Swift's bald pate accurately portrays that of Jervis, who must have torn his hair out at his best friends obtuseness.

    Just as Thorndyke sounded the call for the intellectual adventurer, Sexton Blake has returned to make the case for the action hero. Blake, in the youthful form of Norman Eshley, appears to have caught Baine's propensity for overdressing, as he cuts a more dandified figure than previous versions of the character. It's left to Peter Duncan as the faithful sidekick Tinker to bring things down to Earth with his Cockney urchin charm.

    I'm happy to say that like his fellows in the field, Eshley straddles the arrogant/likeable line with ease. However, if Sexton Blake isn't a hit, can I suggest that, with Edwin Richfield having departed for pastures new, Mr. Eshley become the new Master in Doctor Who? [5] With his piercing eyes and cavernous nostrils, Eshley could be king of the sneers.

    - Owen Harbottle, My TV Week, Daily Mirror, Oct 22nd 1973 [6]

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    __________________

    BBC Memorandum
    From: H.Serials D. Tel
    Subject: GABRIEL BAINE CAST SUGGESTION
    To: Producer, Gabriel Baine February 5th 1974
    copy to: Ch. P. BBC 1., D.Tel., H. Drama Tel.
    Had a letter from actor Tom Baker about getting some work out of us. Remind me to mention this at our next meeting, I think he'd fit in with Gabriel Baine's world.

    - Memorandum by BBC Head of Serials Bill Slater
    __________________

    Next week a new series of The Adventures of Gabriel Baine starts and the dashing detective seems to have met his match in the criminal genius Lord St John Giordano!

    - Radio Times, 1974
    __________________

    Dear Paddy,

    Sorry I was out when you called. I'm feeling fit as a fiddle, thanks for asking.

    I've got another film job. This time I'm alongside Michael Caine and Sean Connery, no less! I have some more films lined up, maybe I'll be a movie star at last.

    I got talking to Herbert Lom when we were doing the latest Pink Panther and he said he wouldn't mind doing a Doctor Who provided it didn't take too much time. He's busy, busy, busy!

    Naturally, if you ever want Dr. Who 3 to stop by and meet Dr. Who 4, give me enough notice and I'd be happy to come back.

    Love, Roger

    - Letter to Paddy Russell, 1975
    __________________

    [1] Original character but I based his comments on some things I read in an article in The Guardian February 26th 1971 by James Preston, former London Weekend Television executive. It detailed a downturn in opportunities for ITV companies to export to and import from US TV networks.

    [2] Really happened in OTL, another James Preston article that gets to the bottom of that story was "LWT subsidiary was just a 'gravy train' for writers", The Stage, May 20th 1971

    [3] Gerald Savory was a writer and producer who'd previously been the BBC TV's Head of Serials and was the one who spiked John Wiles and Donald Tosh's original plans for The Celestial Toymaker as a reference to Savory's play George And Margaret

    [4] IOTL Churchill's People went ahead as a co-production with Universal TV and was made on videotape, in the studio and for 26 episodes. It was a disaster. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churchill's_People

    [5] Like Roger Delgado IOTL, Richfield has found that people think he's in Doctor Who all the time and it's getting in the way of finding work. Also like Delgado, he's given the choice between slipping away quietly or going out with a bang. He's chosen to slip out quietly.

    [6] Another original character, mainly because I would want to portray an OTL TV critic as writing quite so badly as that. Call it exposition-by-cliche.

    Next time: a guest post about Terror Of The Autons in which my friend Andrew Hickey argues that Delgado's Third Doctor was most subversive under Barry Letts

    Thanks to my friend Mark McMillan of TV Ark for doing the aging effect on the TV Times cover
     
    Part 6 - Guest Post
  • Guest post

    THE IMPERIAL PHASE

    by Andrew Hickey

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    Tom Ewing, who writes, among other things, the wonderful blog Popular, talks about musicians having an Imperial Phase, a phrase he repurposed and expanded from a stray interview comment from Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys.
    Most Doctor Who fans of a certain age would agree that the Delgado era of Doctor Who was, indeed, its imperial phase in the way that Ewing means it. Ewing describes it as a sense of command -- "the happy sensation of working hard and well and having the things you try resonate with your desired public", permission -- "a level of public interest, excitement, and goodwill towards your work", and a sense that the phase defines the rest of a career -- that anything after that point will be compared to the work done in the imperial phase.

    Now, to my mind the first two aspects are clearly correct when it comes to Delgado-era Who. There are, of course, notable failures of craft that we can all point to and laugh at, those moments where the show's reach exceeded its grasp -- there was a long period in the nineties and early two thousands where it was impossible to turn on a TV without being assailed by a clip show in which various smug, self-satisfied commentators would say "what was that all about?" before showing a clip of Alpha Centauri on Peladon or the notorious scene from The Zarbi Invasion in which Jo Grant performs the kiss of life on Brigadier Knight and his false moustache comes off, while an uncomfortable Richard Briers stands behind them and tries to look imposing in an ill-fitting insect costume. But in the vast majority of cases, what defines a Delgado-era story is its feeling of competence. The production team at this point were not wild experimentalists or amateurs, but competent craftsmen who knew how to put together a piece of television that worked, and after its relative lack of audience response during the latter part of the Troughton era, the show became once again wildly popular.

    I would argue, though, that the series at this point didn't define the show in the minds of most fans. It's seen by almost everyone nowadays as an outlier, an attempt to rework the show into another format, but an attempt that ultimately failed. When people think of seventies Doctor Who nowadays, they almost always think of Iain Cuthbertson dealing with creeping terrors from beyond time (most of which, of course, turned out to have Scooby Doo-level human explanations, not that anyone remembers that), not of Roger Delgado fighting the Master what seemed like every week.
    But that, of course, brings me to the other way in which the series was in its imperial phase, and that really started with Terror of the Autons.

    Now, there has been a tendency among some fans to interpret the Delgado era in the light of his final story, and the schoolchild politics therein. Peter Hammond is a fantastic writer, and I have no doubt at all that he was sincerely opposed to racism at the time. But when you look at his writing, there's an innate conservatism to it -- almost all his writing, whether it be in the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre he wrote in for Doctor Who, or the police procedurals and cosy mysteries he's spent so much of the rest of his career writing, has been based around the fairly common trope of something from outside disturbing a world that would otherwise have been fine until the outside influence messed everything up. Now, it's certainly possible to write that kind of story and not have it reinforce racist tropes, and I believe that's what Hammond has managed to do for the most part. But it's very difficult to write that story and have it actively oppose racism, and while Army of Evil certainly attempts it, it seems to posit racism itself as the disturbing Other coming from outside.

    In retrospect, this seems rather like those people who reacted to the catastrophic political events of the last few years by saying "I want my country back! It never used to be like this!" and blaming Russian bots and propaganda, rather than acknowledging that that racism had always been there, and had indeed been encouraged by the very "moderate" politicians that the Very Nice Comfortable Politically Homeless people had pinned all their own hopes on. As a Tweet I just saw put it, "Why can't we go back to the time when all the very bad problems existed but I wasn't aware of them?"

    Given that a generation grew up watching this stuff, is it too much to blame Peter Hammond and Paddy Russell for all the policy failures of centrism and fascism-appeasement that have led to the current world we're in? Yes, of course it is. But that mindset that racism is something that happens to other people is one that needs a lot more interrogation than it's had, either in the world at large or in the more comfortable world of Doctor Who. I remember when Elizabeth Sandifer made the fairly mild suggestion that The Curse of Baron Samedi from 1977 might not be worth trying to redeem critically, she was absolutely monstered.

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    But people read that back into the rest of the Delgado years, and see the politics in them as being naive centrism -- not helped by the fact that Barry Letts was a well-known supporter of the Liberal Party, and many people assume that that meant he was a liberal-in-the-US-sense, a moderate centrist, when in fact he was a radical liberal. And so they see, for example, Delgado's white suit as being a nod to the Alec Guinness film The Man in the White Suit, in which both the unions and the bosses are just as bad as each other, and thus see Delgado wearing it as a sort of subliminal both-sidesism.

    But in fact the politics of the Letts/Dicks years of the show are very different from those of the Russell/Hammond years (and it's only as I type this sentence that I've wondered for the first time if the name of the guitarist from Almost Famous was a nod to that production team. I assume not, but one never knows).

    And this is where we get back to imperial phases, because the first four years of the Delgado Doctor are the show's attempt to grapple -- in an admittedly ham-fisted way -- with the legacy of Empire. Once you accept that the Delgado Doctor is deliberately coded as ethnically other, you start to notice other things -- like the fact that while the suit was modeled after that of Mark Twain, when worn by Delgado it couldn't help but evoke in British minds the image of people from the Indian subcontinent and Middle East wearing white shalwar kameez. And then you start to think about how this is the only era of Doctor Who in which alien invasions played a prominent part, and about how the ur-invasion story, War of the Worlds, was intended as a none-too-subtle attack on imperialism.

    And then you remember that Letts was a radical internationalist Liberal, that Malcolm Hulke was a member of the Communist Party, and that Bob Holmes' career almost paralleled that of Orwell, right down to serving in the Imperial forces in Burma (and that the only regular writers from the Letts/Dicks eras to continue writing much for the new regime were Bob Baker and Dave Martin, the only ones whose stories didn't engage with politics even slightly).

    Suddenly the Letts/Dicks/Delgado period, ignoring as far as possible our knowledge of how Delgado's tenure ended, looks a lot different. While UNIT were clearly originally intended by the Sherwin regime to be to all intents and purposes the British Army by another name, under Letts' direction they become a properly international force, with constant reminders that they're governed from Geneva, not London. The militarism of the stories, often cited by fans as a right-wing element of the story, falls into place when you see a Doctor of colour fighting the invaders.

    These are stories about the empire. The Daleks, the Axons, the Zarbi, aren't generic foreigners as they're usually parsed. They're *us*, invading the rest of the world, and the Doctor is every freedom fighter who fought against the Empire. At a time when the British Empire was finally, officially, over for good, Doctor Who was trying to show kids why it had to end. You see those Daleks? That's you that is.

    That's not so evident in season seven, with its run of stories which just consist of some big industrial facility being threatened by the monster of the month, but those stories were mostly conceived of under the previous production team -- and while Terrance Dicks was great at making sure scripts worked on the story level, he had no strong political opinions at all.

    So it's when we turn to the first story wholly commissioned and created under Letts, Terror of the Autons from the start of season eight, that we see the era's concerns come into sharp focus. The way the Autons use the plastics factory, creating useless things which people think they need but which will eventually kill them, mirrors the way that the British Empire and the East India Company used opium to weaken the defences of countries they wanted to overpower. The plastics factory itself presents the illusion of progress, which in the view of this era of the series is used as an excuse for invasion. The police are revealed, under their masks, to be yet another arm of the capitalist-imperialist force, out to destroy dissent rather than to bring about justice.

    And who is behind all of this? Who, in fact, turns out to be behind every single story in season eight? The Master -- and the echoes of "master race" in the name are undoubtedly not a coincidence. A character whose first appearance is written by Holmes, and whose casting was suggested by Hulke, and who is the epitome of the English gentleman, the Imperial bureaucrat who talks of civility while casually committing mass murder. The kind of person who would consider using the wrong fork at dinner to be a hanging offence, while the genocide of a few hundred thousand "savages" was a matter for polite debate.

    Of course, the political implications of having Edwin Richfield play the antagonist while Roger Delgado was the hero were never explicitly stated -- but they didn't need to be. Anyone watching could see exactly what was meant by having a superficially charming but deeply brutish upper-class villain face off against an ambiguously "other" hero, one who couldn't rely on easy charm and knowledge of the social niceties to grease his way through the world, but who radiated basic decency and humanity from every pore.

    Of course, this isn't the only framing through which one can see the Letts/Dicks/Delgado years. The Delgado Doctor is also clearly linked in with the hippie counterculture in the minds of the producers. Again, he "looks a bit Indian", and the Beatles had of course famously worn white shalwar kameez in Rishikesh, when they were meditating with the Maharishi, and so the vague suggestion of sitars and flowers hangs over much of the series -- something accentuated by the accidental coincidence that Delgado was in the production of King Lear that was mixed into the fade of "I Am the Walrus" by the Beatles. The production team were delighted when they discovered this, and inserted a reference to the song in The Three Doctors.

    But when one looks at the Master, engaging in every trope of the Sinister Oriental, including hypnotising the beautiful white girl and putting her under his control, but doing so in a business suit, with a cut-glass accent and an Etonian sneer, and being defeated by a small dark-skinned man, the overriding message of the series during the early seventies becomes utterly clear. We are the Daleks, the Yeti, the Zarbi. We are the invading monsters motivated by the desire to make everything like us, to control everyone else or exterminate them if they're different enough from us.
    The series would, sadly, never again be as radical as in those years, the ones now looked back to with nostalgia by the very people they were fighting against.

    Andrew Hickey is the author of (among other things) the Doctor Who book Fifty Stories For Fifty Years and writer and presenter of the podcast A History Of Rock Music In 500 Songs

    Next time: a rehearsal room argument causes a crossover
     
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    Part 7
  • Paddy Russell: "As I understand it, other producers took great pains over choosing an outfit for The Doctor, but we asked Iain what he thought might work and he said 'Sgt. Cork', so we went with that."

    Peter J. Hammond: "These days when you mention Sgt. Cork, people think about the 70s revival with Frank Finlay, but at that time we didn't know it was going to be brought back. Iain was thinking of the original 60s show with John Barrie. He wore a tweed suit and an Inverness cape or an Ulster. Iain would go without the bowler hat and his suit would be a finer quality, but it matched what we wanted. Iain was going to be very noticeable with his height, so we gave him something less conspicuous to wear. That way, he could decide when to be the centre of attention and when not to be. Also, we were planning a location shoot on Ilkley Moor, where that Inverness would be most welcome when the wind whipped up."

    - DVD Extra, Storm Of The Cybermen
    __________________​

    The Fourth Doctor is notable for his constant changes in mood. Quiet, paternal and a little sad to his companions, when he comes into an unfamiliar situation he will be loud and ebullient, but able to make his mirth somewhat menacing if he starts to suspect evil in the person he's addressing. Finally, when confronted with the worst the universe has to offer, he will display a quiet anger that threatens dreadful consequences.

    - Andrew Barbicane, The Complete Fourth Doctor [1]
    __________________​

    "We carefully designed Doctor Who with Iain to do two mutually exclusive things. The children watched for thrills, we needed to keep the safe scares or they'd lose interest. But we also needed to make sure we didn't fall foul of the whole controversy about violence on TV. I'm not just talking about Mary Whitehouse, as the envelope got pushed more and more in other shows like The Sweeney[2] the whole of television came under scrutiny.

    "I'd worked on Ace Of Wands over at Thames and that show was carefully devised with a lot of research and child psychology behind it. I used to parrot what I could remember of that when Doctor Who came in for criticism. That helped, but Paddy and I did have our own rules about what we would and wouldn't do. Just look at how many cliffhangers involve the baddie pointing a weapon at the companion, then the Doctor will stand in front of them and looked concerned. So you get across the peril, but you leave that little bit of reassurance. The Doctor is there.

    "Sherlock Holmes was something we talked about a lot. Not in terms of the characterization, but the character's role in the plots. Quite a few of those stories are Gothic thrillers. There's a young woman, a remote location a not entirely trustworthy male protector and something unnatural happening. That's The Copper Beeches, A Case of Identity, and The Adventure of the Speckled Band alone. Then Sherlock Holmes comes in and shows it's all perfectly logical. So that was an idea we went with. Creepy atmospheres and the Doctor eventually works out that it's just scientific wrongdoers.

    "Naturally, it didn't silence criticism. But when people said it was too frightening, but being able to reply 'it's just moody lighting and long silences, there's no gore' bought us some credit with the BBC hierarchy.

    It didn't buy me any credit with Robert Holmes, who would say to me 'You should be scaring the little buggers'[3]. I turned down so many ideas from him I'm lucky he didn't take it personally."

    - Peter J Hammond interview, Doctor Who Magazine, 2002
    __________________​

    Submitted for season 14

    The Dangerous Assassin[4]

    An outline by Robert Holmes for a story that would explore the Doctor's home planet was rejected by script editor Peter J. Hammond for clashing with the mystery about the Doctor's origins, which Hammond thought was important to the series' success.

    - List of unmade Doctor Who serials and films, Wikipedia
    __________________​

    "I liked writing for a character without much backstory. I had the same thing later with The Time Shapers [5]. People asked me who Sapphire and Steel really were. Well they just *were*. That's your explanation. They existed and acted. Enjoy the mystery.

    "I've given different answers to this over the years. I can't quite decide, but today I'll say that, yes, I was influenced by Doctor Who when creating The Time Shapers. In some ways, it represents the way I would have liked to have written The Doctor. I'd have liked it if we'd never seen the Time Lords or the homeworld. I like the implication that maybe The Doctor was the same kind of being as the things he fought against. I threw in a few lines in that direction, but it couldn't stick. We already knew about the Time Lords.

    "There was that funny little period in the 90s when the BBC was looking at co-producers. There were pitches flying around for movies and revivals and I read a few of them. Too many of them started with The Doctor's origins.

    "Sometimes I'd get a call from someone putting a proposal together and they'd ask me 'what's The Doctor's home planet called?' and I'd say 'I don't know'. Then they'd say 'would you like to come up with a name?'. Well, no, I didn't want to do that.

    "I'm not sure if it's an American thing. I mean, most of the American fans are lovely, but I used to get these very strange letters about The Doctor's origins and the ones who would not take 'no' for an answer were the ones in the US. It was towards the end of my time on the programme that we got a sudden influx of new fans from the US, thanks to Gabriel Baine."

    - Peter J Hammond, DVD extra, Empire Of Death
    __________________​

    "Just like The Doctor had The Master, we thought Gabriel Baine should have an arch-enemy. Around about the same time, the Head of Serials at the BBC said we should take a look at this actor Tom Baker and everything fell into place. We made him as flamboyant as Gabriel Baine, but in a more decadent way.

    "Sadly, Jon and Tom didn't hit it off."

    - Barry Letts, The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
    __________________​

    "I don't like talking about this, because there are a lot of people who like putting Jon down and this matter just adds fuel to the fire. No Jon did not dislike Tom because Tom was an inch taller. What happened was Jon and Tom would start arguing, Tom would pull himself up to his full height and say 'I'm taller than you'.

    Jon was the star and he knew he was the star. If you want to call him big-headed, go ahead, but I don't think he was being unreasonable. It was his show. Tom was just so carried away with mischief, he liked getting a rise out of Jon. At first the tension gave their onscreen dealings a bit of extra electricity, but eventually, it was just destructive. Though before he left, we did come up with an idea to put Tom in his place and that led to one of the most celebrated episodes ever."

    - Terrance Dicks, outtake from The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
    __________________​

    "People were always saying that Gabriel Baine and The Doctor should meet and it just became one of those ideas, like the Daleks should meet the Cybermen, that's so obvious there's no good reason to do it. It sounds exciting but once you do it, so what? Where do you go from there? The expectations would be so high that one would be making a rod for one's own back.

    "One day Tom had decided to needle Jon and started with his usual 'Don't start with me, I'm taller than you and I'm from Liverpool'. Terrance leaned over to me and said 'You know what would shut up a 6'3" Scouser? A 6'4" Glaswegian. We should give Iain Cuthbertson a call'. Somehow, that comment from Terrance made it seem like a good idea. I don't know, maybe we just needed an excuse.

    "That gave a boost to Doctor Who in the US as Gabriel Baine fans who might not know or care about Doctor Who got to see the Doctor in action and naturally, some of them wanted to see more."

    - Barry Letts, The Cult Of Gabriel Baine, BBC4 2006
    __________________​

    PicPart7.jpg


    In a beautiful piece of synergy, by the time Gabriel Baine ended in 1977, the Baine fans were up to speed with Doctor Who and found it kept them entertained while they waited to see if the proposed Baine movie ever got off the ground.

    - DWM Archive special feature, The Adventures Of Gabriel Baine: Who Rules Time?, Doctor Who Magazine 2002
    __________________​

    "You hear about sparks flying on the Gabriel Baine set and think things must have been the same on Doctor Who. But then you read anything about that period and they're all the same. 'And then Paddy Russell left and PJ Hammond became producer and Graham Williams replaced him as script editor and then Hammond left and Michael Briant replaced him'. I thought they're really must be something else to write about here but for the most part, there really isn't."

    - Andrew Barbicane, Convention appearance, 2006
    __________________​

    "Paddy was leaving and everybody who was expected to replace her turned the job down, myself included. An agreement was reached, I only had to produce for one series while someone more permanent could be found. I'd get the producer credit for my CV, but my days working on Doctor Who were mercifully numbered. I loved the show, but I was running out of ideas."

    - Peter J. Hammond, DVD Extra, The Shadow Of Demios
    __________________​

    "I'd worked on both series of Sutherland's Law as script editor[6] so I knew how to work with Iain and what kind of things would sound most natural coming from him. I mean, he could deliver any line convincingly, but I could tailor them precisely.

    "I know my time on the show has been singled out for its more obvious humour, but it's not true that that was down to orders from above. Not directly, anyway.

    "When Peter became producer there was a suggestion from the BBC bosses that maybe he should lighten things up a bit. But he achieved that in two ways. First was his 'three-five rule'. The cliffhangers were now more focused on complications than threats. The peril came in episode 3; and if it was a 6-parter also in episode 5. Secondly, victories at the end were to be unambiguous and upbeat. Pretty much the opposite of what he did when he wrote The Time Shapers.

    "The humour was more because of Vicky Williams as the companion. She'd been in a children's drama called The Changes and Paddy had cast her on the strength of that. In The Changes she was playing a schoolgirl, but she was 19. She was meant to be playing a similar age group in Doctor Who, about 15. I think she was getting tired of that kind of role, so her delivery was a bit droll and flippant. Once I came onboard as script editor, Peter and I agreed to just write her as her real age. I gather the fans have all sorts of theories about what this means for the character. Anyway, I have to confess, I kept giving her funny lines because I knew she'd do them justice. It gave the show a nice feeling of The Avengers.

    "Peter did have one rule. He would not let me do anything that dealt with the Doctor's past or home planet. 'Doctor Who is a question as well as a title. No origin story is required' he'd say."

    - Graham Williams, Doctor Who Magazine interview 1990 [7]
    __________________​

    "The main production anecdote from that time is how Hammond's tenure ended up being one of the most dazzling pieces of fancy footwork to shut up Mary Whitehouse."

    - Andrew Barbicane, Convention appearance, 2006
    __________________​

    "Whatever you may hear, it wasn't planned this way from the start, but towards the end of my tenure, I realized my short stay could be used to take some of the heat off the production office. So a journalist friend got a quote from Mary Whitehouse saying how dreadful we were. The BBC were then able to reply 'that producer doesn't work for us anymore'. It bought Doctor Who a bit of time, I like to think."

    - Peter J. Hammond, DVD Extra, The Curse Of Baron Samedi
    __________________​

    "One might call the years from 1975-79, The Quiet Years, at least as far as behind the scenes drama go." [8]

    - DWM Archive feature, Blood For Gold, Doctor Who Magazine 1998
    __________________​

    "Did you see that in the Doctor Who Magazine? The Quiet Years. I notice they end in 1979. Oh boy, did they end in 1979!"

    - Michael E Briant, Convention appearance, 1998
    __________________​

    "BBC1's Saturday night lineup was unbeatable in the 70s. So obviously, it became vital to ITV to try and get viewers away from us. Michael Grade at London Weekend Television had a plan. The first thing in his sights was the lynchpin of the BBC's Saturday evening schedule."

    - The Fight For Saturday Night, BBC4 , 2008
    __________________​

    [1] Barbicane is an original character to stand in for fan writers, if I ever get my other TL done, we'll see more of his writing on a different topic

    [2] Despite the Baine-inspired Victorian detectives ITTL, I think The Sweeney goes ahead as Thames' Euston Films division was formed with ideas of making pacy, modern action drama.

    [3] Viz. Philip Hinchcliffe from Doctor Who Magazine (OTL) "Bob was a bit of a devil and used to say, 'Let’s scare the buggers!'"

    [4] The working title IOTL

    [5] TTL's version of Sapphire And Steel

    [6] As per OTL, except Sutherland's Law had 5 series. IOTL, Sutherland's Law was piloted in the same Drama Playhouse strand as The Incredible Robert Baldick, but as ITTL Baldick has become Baine and gone to series, the continuation of Sutherland's Law has been squeezed aside by the change in how much of BBC Drama's attention and resources have been available. The other series in that Drama Playhouse run, The Venturers didn't go to series at all ITTL.

    [7] IOTL Graham Williams died in an accident in 1990. Take it as butterflied here, but I've decided to skirt around any specifics ITTL.

    [8] There's no Philip Hinchcliffe going over budget on his last story after being fired. There's no Tom Baker refusing to let directors tell him how to play the part. It's all a bit ordinary in the production office at this time.

    There will now be a pause in the story. Still to come: Grade takes his best shot, Sherlock Holmes arrives, the new companion is 'Wrong Genre Savvy' and just what is going on in the grounds of Pebble Mill?
     
    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.

    PicPart8.jpg

    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.
     
    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:
    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
    __________________

    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]
    __________________

    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
    __________________

    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
    __________________

    "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
    __________________

    "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
    __________________

    "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
    __________________

    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
    __________________

    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]

    __________________

    "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
    __________________


    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
    __________________

    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]
    __________________


    [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
     
    Part 11
  • [This was going to be a guest post, but looking at the way things unfold in the timeline, I think it's better off appearing after this part]

    "A couple of comic writers pitched an idea to Chris and me and while some of the stuff in it was too expensive to do, the basic idea of a galaxy conquering Roman Empire appealed to me.

    "OK, the bottom line was that Roman costumes and props could be had for far less money than a newly created alien species, but it wasn't just that. The guys who pitched the idea, Pat Mills and John Wagner, worked for 2000AD and that seemed to me a good direction for Doctor Who to be looking in.

    "Star Wars was hanging over everything and I knew we couldn't keep pace with it and on another level, we shouldn't have been trying anyway. Star Wars is pure escapism, very American. I thought Doctor Who should be spikier, more satirical and completely British.

    "So Chris, John, Pat and I worked out just what was usable in this Roman Empire idea and I got in touch with someone to licence some other characters. This was going to be the last story of the longest serving Doctor. It had to be big!

    "And then the strike happened.

    "Legend has it the strike started because of a disagreement over the Play School clock and a dispute as to whether it was the responsibility of the props department or the electricians. I say legend has it, because every time I've spoken to a back room boy they say 'There's more to it than that' and then won't say any more. [1]

    "Things were like that in the 70s. Unions were powerful and strikes were frequent. Whether it was over a clock on a children's programme or something more sinister the result was, we couldn't finish Iain's last story. We'd done the location work and some of the studio work, but it was unfinished and we couldn't use Television Centre.

    "When the strike ended, Doctor Who was not given the same priority as other shows. But the clock was ticking. Iain was leaving so he could play Charlie Endell again for ITV [2]. Eventually, he was going to be too busy for us. We could maybe try and fit in something around the Charles Endell Esq shooting schedule, but it'd be overworking him and he'd have to have a fake beard.

    "I came up with a plan. Crawled on hands and knees to the bosses and hoped my plan would be approved and wouldn't cause another strike. We'd finish the story at Pebble Mill [3], some of it in the studio and some of it in the grounds using an OB unit. [4]



    "They said OK. PHEW!

    "I started Doctor Who in an period of stability and it stayed that way right up until the last story. I left Doctor Who with half my hair torn out, the other half gone white and the beginnings of an ulcer."

    - Michael E Briant, DVD Extra, The Iron Legion [5]
    __________________

    "Michael's sufferring was very far from being in vain. He bought Doctor Who and me a lot of good luck."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Iron Legion
    __________________

    Saturday 6.15 Buck Rogers In The Twenty-Fifth Century (ITV)

    The comic strip hero comes to life in London Weekend's new series

    - The Week In View, The Observer, August 24th 1980
    __________________

    6.15 on Saturday. LWT had scheduled Buck Rogers directly against Doctor Who in their latest attempt to break BBC1's hold on the Saturday evening TV schedule. While it did grab some viewers away, the timing wasn't quite right for a move against a TV institution.

    - DWM Archive, The Iron Legion, 1997
    __________________

    "Thanks to Michael's hard work, I was starting my first series as producer with 6 episodes already made. Producers have to be creative with budgets and sometimes management co-operates. What happened was the first story to go out was taken from Season 17's budget and I was free to work with the Season 18 budget I'd negotiated. So I was spending 26 episodes of money on 20 episodes. OK, it wasn't Star Wars level, but I managed to make it look a little more spectacular.

    "The BBC managed to give an extra publicity push, because while the cast were hanging around Pebble Mill, they were on hand to pre-record interviews for Pebble Mill At One [6] that could be played the week the story began.

    "What was worst of all from LWT's point of view was that Season 18 was starting with Iain's last story. A Doctor's last story helps draw in the curious. The big twist halfway through was that the Daleks were behind the whole thing. That was revealed at the end of episode 3, that meant we gained some viewers for the last 3 episodes of the story. After that was over, well, obviously we had the 5th Doctor's first story. As the series went on, Buck Rogers managed to eat into our ratings a little bit, but by that point, it wasn't going out the same time everywhere anyway."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Iron Legion
    __________________

    "Granada and Yorkshire were now ready to fire back in the North vs South dispute. Buck Rogers had failed to fell Doctor Who. The companies decided to switch it with Metal Mickey in the schedule, putting it out half-an-hour earlier. LWT protested that Buck Rogers had better effects than Doctor Who and was the nearest TV equivalent to Star Wars. The anti-LWT faction shot back, Doctor Who actually had a cast member of Star Wars in the title role. Not a central performer granted, but he was in Star Wars and the BBC weren't going to let anyone forget it."

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

    PicPart12.jpg

    __________________

    [1] I was looking up things about this strike and I noticed mention of Michael Checkland (BBC controller of planning and resource management at the time, eventually Director General IOTL) saying "There is more to this than you know" here http://tech-ops.co.uk/next/striking-seventies/ so I've left a little question mark over the official cause of the strike

    [2] Charlie Endell, the vice lord of Soho in the TV series Budgie (the best TV show ever produced by Verity Lambert, fight me). He was given his own spinoff show IOTL in 1979 and it was a victim of the long ITV strike. Thanks to Doctor Who, that's happening a year later ITTL, giving the show a better chance.

    [3] BBC studios in the Midlands. Used for Horror Of Fang Rock IOTL, maybe ITTL as well.

    [4] Outside broadcast

    [5] Originally pitched as a TV story, it ended up as a comic strip IOTL.

    [6] A daytime magazine programme

    Next time: If Buck Rogers isn't a big hit in the UK, what is going to happen to that Buck Rogers based burger bar in Glasgow that existed IOTL? Hamish Bland has the answer.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 12 - Guest Post
  • (originally published in The List magazine, August 2015)

    BLAKE’S PROGRESS

    The unlikely story of the high US sci-fi series and the even more unlikely burger bar it inspired 5000 miles away. By Hamish Bland

    It’s hard to believe it is now 30 years since the closure of the weirdest, and most unlikely, attempt at a burger franchise — one that obtained near mythical status for those in Glasgow of a certain age.

    Blake’s Burger Station, or just Blake’s as it got known locally, was an attempt by Edinburgh businessman Brian Waldman to create a franchise to compete with McDonalds and Wimpy. The iconic shiny logo was a bright spark on the dark, dirty Queen Street of the 1980s.

    Opened by Glasgow Provost Michael Kelly, and situated above the iconic Tam Shepherd’s Joke Shop, Blake’s was a rite of passage for every west of Scotland nerd-in-training. The robot dancers, the servers in skimpy silver spandex, the video screens showing space battles surrounded lots of buttons for budding sci-fi adventurers to press.

    These days it’s gone, of course, lost in the 1985 fire that gutted the top two floors of the building. What for a generation was THE place to go for burgers became, for the next generation, the nightclub to hit for quality 90s tunes and the chance to see the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Charlie Sheen.

    Blake’s has become an urban legend, remembered in Facebook groups and Twitter threads. But what of the show that inspired it?

    These days it’s generally remembered as just another cult TV show, regularly seen in appearances in clip shows and ‘do you remember’ type articles on the internet, largely thanks to the notorious casting of one of its stars.

    It’s hard to imagine, more than three decades later, how big a deal Blake was when it aired here. A gritty, expensive-looking science fiction series born in the shadow of Star Wars and made by the man behind the Daleks and Gabriel Baine.

    This weekend fans of the cult TV series will descend on Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel for the annual Oracon, a two-day convention celebrating the show. Stars from the 80s TV hit will join them, as the show marks its 35th anniversary to talk about how it was made, along with screenings of old episodes.

    For fans, it’s an important gathering. For the rest of us, wondering why all these people are wandering up Buchanan Street covered in tinfoil and pointing plastic toy guns at each other, it’s a curious sight.

    So here, as they arrive en masse, is the story of how the cult TV show was born — and how it gave rise to a burger bar.

    * * *

    Star Wars had rewritten the rules. The 1977 release of A New Hope changed the landscape of space opera pretty much forever. After a decade of more cerebral science fiction from 2001 to THX-1138, the big money was in pop bang lovely sci-fi space battles and flashy action.

    TV was quick to cash in, with ABC quickest out the blocks. Veteran producer Glen A Larson, the man behind the Six Million Dollar Man and Quincy provided a glossy, expensive sci-fi series called Battlestar Galactica. Nowadays, of course, people are more likely to remember the remake from the 2000s — however the original Galactica was just as hugely popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

    But at $1million an episode in 1977 (nearly £3m an episode in today’s money), it was an incredibly expensive show to produce and as ratings dwindled to a quarter of their initial levels, the axe fell after just one series.

    Fans were outraged and, it turned out, the timing couldn’t be worse. Letter writing campaigns demanded the show’s return, Larson hit out at a conspiracy trying to sabotage Galactica to boost Mork and Mindy’s viewing figures… and then more tragically, a 15-year-old fan obsessed with the show took their own life at news of the cancellation.

    ABC found themselves in an awkward position, Their big Star Wars beater had gone, but its presence in the schedules, and the movie franchise’s ongoing popularity, had inspired the other networks to plough on with their own homespun efforts.

    Larson, freed of the Galactica commitments, was overseeing an adaptation of the old Buck Rogers Saturday morning serials for NBC. Rival channel CBS meanwhile were spinning Jason of Star Command out from fifteen minute inserts into a stand alone series. Having shown big space opera could work on TV, ABC was now in danger of being caught out.

    With Larson having moved on amid acrimony, and the negative publicity from Edward Seidel’s death, bringing Galactica back wasn’t an option. They needed a new sci-fi series. And fast.

    Enter Terry Nation.

    * * *

    Following the end of The Adventures of Gabriel Baine, Nation found himself at a loose end. He did some uncredited work script doctoring on Hollywood movies, and pitched a remake of his 1960s TV series The Baron and a show about a deadly virus wiping out most of the inhabitants of America, both of which got as far as the pilot stage before crashing.

    For years, before the success of Gabriel Baine, he had tried shopping around a TV series based on the Daleks, as he — and not the BBC - owned the rights to the famous Doctor Who monsters. It had never gone far — but now ABC needed a hit sci-fi show. Would he be interested in dusting down the ideas and making a new series?

    As it turned out, he wasn’t. With Doctor Who doing well on UK TV and the success of Baine, he’d moved on from resurrecting the Daleks in their own show. The logistics of doing the show without the BBC’s involvement were potentially very complicated. And besides, Nation had a better idea.

    His pitch, basically, boiled down to Robin Hood in Space. A group of outlaws, led by a wronged man trying to clear his reputation, looking to bring down an evil ruler and their brutal henchman. Like Star Wars, it was a group of young, attractive rebels fighting for justice against the system, but with a harder, grittier edge, informed by the Cold War and politics as much as sci-fi shenanigans.

    Originally, Nation had Blake’s Seven in mind for the name of the show — giving it the same kind of vibe as The Magnificent Seven. However, the network were concerned it would be off-putting, confusing viewers about how many shows there’d been.

    Instead he stripped it down to five main characters. Blake, the rebel leader. Avon, his deputy. Gann, the muscle. Villa, the cowardly comic relief. Cally, the female psychic and love interest. Supplementing them would be the voice Oracle, the ship’s computer.

    Interested, the network commissioned 13 episodes as a mid-season replacement. Leonard Katzman, who’d produced Fantastic Journey for the channel, came on board, juggling his commitment to Dallas with providing a guiding hand to the politics of network TV for Nation.

    Jared Martin was the network’s only choice for Blake. He’d received good reviews for his lead role in Fantastic Journey, under Katzman. An intense theatre actor with good looks and a solid CV of TV roles already, the 37-year-old was ticked every box.

    Opposite Martin’s Blake would be Avon, the sardonic computer hacker and troublemaker of the group, Nation had originally envisaged the role for Scottish actor Ian McCulloch, whom he’d remembered from an early episode of Gabriel Baine. But a scheduling conflict with a film McCulloch was making in Italy ruled him out.

    The network pushed for the character to be more wisecracking than the sardonic wit Nation wrote for Avon in the pilot. With Starsky and Hutch having wrapped, they thought the role would be the perfect fit for Antonio Fargas, seeing him as a Huggy Bear in Space. But Nation resisted, feeling an edge was needed against Blake’s even-handedness. Eventually a compromise was reached — up and coming African American actor Joe Morton was handed the part, in his first major TV drama role.

    But it was the casting of another black actor that was seen as the show’s big coup, certainly in terms of publicity at the time.

    OJ Simpson was in his final year with the San Francisco 49ers, bringing down the curtain on a legendary sports career. By the late 70s he had already started transitioning into acting, having shown up in productions as diverse as Roots and The Towering Inferno.

    A year earlier he had played one of the astronauts in the successful conspiracy drama Capricorn One, which helped cement him in the minds of Nation and Katzman as a potential for Gann, the gentle strongman of the group.

    Simpson, for his part, liked the idea of being in a high profile TV series as a chance to show he could make the full-time switch into acting.

    “For someone like me, who grew up a football fan, he was the man. It was the Juice, man. He was a star. But he was so good on set. Knew his lines, had charisma for days. He knew his limitations and when the writers worked them out, they worked round him. We all kinda watched out for him. He was fun.”

    - Joe Morton, DVD commentary for Blake, episode one (2005 release)

    The female lead on the show also became a challenge to cast. With Charlie’s Angels casting nearby for Kate Jackson’s replacement, the studio lot was filled with actresses trying out for both parts.

    Nation’s pilot script, depicting the tough, telepathic Cally as more than a match for her male crewmates, had more meat than the usual damsel in distress sci-fi on offer at the time.

    “We saw loads of young women for that role. Everyone in Hollywood was interested. You’d see them coming out of the Angels office, crossing the backlot and coming into ours. It was like a beauty pageant. I remember saying to Len, we should have got one of those ticket machines from the supermarket to keep track of them!

    “The one that sticks out though was Michelle Pfeiffer. She was excellent. But she was also really young, maybe about 20, 21, and we were worried she was just too young for it. That was probably our only big mistake in casting the show.”

    - Terry Nation, interviewed on stage at the Oracle One convention, San Francisco, October 6 1984.

    In the end Barbara Bach, who had narrowly missed out to Shelley Hack for the Charlie’s Angels role, was cast — with her recent Bond girl notoriety very much in mind.

    Seeking to offset some of the costs of production — although not the $1m an episode Galactica had been, the effects and Simpson’s salary were making the show an expensive project, Nation and his Gabriel Baine producers Metromedia approached the BBC to join the production.

    With the BBC on board, casting took on a slightly more international flavour, with Metromedia and ABC looking to add a couple of British actors to the cast, believing it would make marketing the show — and promoting it locally — a lot easier.

    Simon McCorkindale, fresh off the plane to Los Angeles after his appearance in the final Quatermass series and looking to make a name for himself in Hollywood, joined the show in the recurring role of Travis, the henchman.

    The British involvement also solved up a problem elsewhere in the cast. Initially ABC had wanted Billy Crystal for Vila, but with Crystal still attached to Soap, and being involved in a new live comedy show NBC were launching on Saturdays, he was unavailable. Second choice was a young actor called Steven Guttenberg, who’d shone in the lead role of Billy - an adaptation of a UK comedy show based on the play Billy Liar.

    When he turned it down, Nation sounded out Pertwee who suggested they went to the source, and the British actor Jeffrey A Rawle - who’d played Billy on British TV - joined the crew.

    Another British voice came on board, although not by design, in the hunt for an actor to play Oracle, the computer on board Blake’s ship. Originally Nation, wanting the computer to sound pompous, suggested Patrick Macnee - having written for him in The Avengers, and knowing he’d be available to do the voiceover work. But ABC blocked the choice, fearing his voice was too associated with the failed Galactica.

    “It was Ray Milland who suggested me, apparently. It’s been rather good fun - I just spend a couple of days a month in a voice studio recording my lines. I’ve only met the other actors from the show at parties, but it seems very popular and it gives me time to do other films as well. I’ve made two other movies at the same time I’ve been doing this.”

    - Donald Pleasance, Desert Island Discs - Radio 4, April 1980.


    Pleasance’s arrival turned Oracle from a pompous character to an increasingly sinister one — for a generation of kids who grew up with the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, hearing the same terrifying voice come out of the speakers on the bridge must have been terrifying, especially in the episode “Breakdown”, when the ship’s systems fail in deep space and Oracle begins counting down how long the crew have left to live.

    The final member of the cast to join was the villain. Servalan, the administrator of Earth, was originally written to be a man, but it was Len Katzman’s suggestion to gender flip the show’s Sheriff of Nottingham equivalent.

    Stockard Channing, fresh from the set of The Cheap Detective, and People’s Choice award for Grease recently in hand, seemed an odd choice at first. However, the opportunity to play a full-on villain was what appealed, after making her name in mainly comedic roles so far.

    The performance would earn her critical acclaim for the depth she brought to what, on paper, could have been a camp and over the top villain.

    "Well, you like to think that they're all fully realised because what you're doing is different from what anyone else is seeing. You do a character but how much of it is on film, or how much of it is seen by an audience, is really up to the director, the piece, or the audience. And so, I just do these people. And flesh them out. I think anything else is not my job."

    - Stockard Channing, interviewed on playing Servalan in Starburst Magazine, 1989


    The show blasted out the traps with its pilot episode, “The Way Back”, on January 13 1980. With Blake being sent to space prison after being framed for murdering his family, he and his fellow outlaws discover a ship drifting in space, and use it to make their escape.

    The impressive visual effects, provided by Derek Meddings in England, and stylish direction by veteran Ted Post made the show stand out against the more gaudy opposition, and earning strong reviews from the media.

    It was the third highest rated show of the week, and ratings held up, eating away at the audience of Buck Rogers in the process.

    PicPart11.jpg


    UK audiences got to see it two months later, at 8pm on March 13 1980. With heavy newspaper coverage, and a Radio Times front cover, it drew an almost ten million viewers for its debut.

    The arrival of this glossy sci-fi show gave ITV a headache. They’d brought in Buck Rogers to be shown on Saturday nights, hoping to attract the Star Wars loving crowd to LWT’s teatime schedule rather than watching Doctor Who on BBC 1.

    But Doctor Who held up against the new competition, and the adventures of Blake and his gang were seen as the cool show to watch compared to the cheesy antics of Buck, Wilma and Twiki, no matter how many covers of Look-In they landed.

    Following the first season’s success, ABC ordered a second series — a full 22-episode run, as Blake and crew began to explore the universe. Channing’s performance as Servalan, increasingly likened to British politics' recent near-miss Margaret Thatcher, made her villainous exploits as popular as Martin’s stoic heroism as Blake. The eventual payoff, as the two faced off in the second series finale “Trial”, would prove to be a hit with fans.

    But not, it would turn out, with casual viewers.

    * * *

    A dip in ratings during the second series had rung alarm bells at ABC. Going into the 1981-82 season, they felt the show needed freshened up. A lighter tone, more family friendly, and more humour was what was called for.

    Nation and Katzman tried to argue the reverse, pointing out the success of Empire Strikes Back, but the network was unmoved. Nation and Katzman left the show, although they retained co-executive producer credits for the third series, with Leslie Stevens - who had produced Buck Rogers for NBC - brought in instead.

    The move had significant ramifications. Attracted to the show because of the serious writing, Martin and Channing also quit. The third season had lost its chief villain and, more worryingly, the character whose name was on the opening credits.

    In some ways the approach of the third series can be seen as a neat solution to the behind the scenes problems. The opening episode - "Marooned" - sees the crew waking unconscious on an unknown planet, with Blake missing and the ship damaged. As they try to piece together what happened, it sparks a search for their missing leader.

    In reality, though, the show couldn’t go on. Audiences turned off in their droves. Fans expressed anger at the changes. While the quest for Blake at least kept the character in the public eye, Servalan was reported to have died, off screen, in a coup on Earth.

    The addition of Kent McCord as a walking, talking robot version of Oracle, and the season’s fourth episode — where the crew find a planet of children and start behaving like kids themselves the longer they stay there — began to alienate viewers used to the more serious previous years.

    “How can you have a show where the guy it’s named after isn’t in it any more? It’s just dumb. It’d be like having a cop show continue if the lead guy got transferred to a new precinct.”

    - Fan’s letter to Starburst magazine, 1981

    The axe, when it came, fell quickly. Eight episodes into the commissioned 22, word arrived that ABC had cancelled them. Three unaired episodes were already in the can, with filming underway on a fourth.

    “It was just the most appalling day. I don’t think anyone was really shocked, none of us were particularly happy with the show at that point, but we all got on well. Joey was probably hit hardest. He was trying to rally everyone behind the scenes, with Jared gone. There were tears, people crying everywhere. It was horrible.”

    - Jeffrey A Rawle, speaking on The Cult of Blake (BBC Four, 2007)

    The decision left the producers in an awkward position. Although ABC’s money was gone, and the show no longer had a US timeslot, it still had a big audience in the UK and elsewhere overseas — most notably in Italy, where Bach’s popularity and regular film work had made the show a surprise hit.

    Metromedia scrabbled around and found the money to complete the episode being shot, and one more. This would allow them to wrap up the series, and take the season to 13 episodes in total.

    With ABC officially out, Terry Nation was contacted to return and write the closing episode. The resulting story was entitled "Blood", but would quickly be nicknamed "Bloodbath" by fans. The writer made clear what he thought of the changes to the show, with McCord’s robot killed off when the Oracle ship crashes in the cold open.

    Jared Martin, by now appearing in Dallas, was persuaded to return for the finale, which sees the crew track down their former leader. Scarred and dying, he confronts Avon, before Travis and his guards ambush them all. The final shot, of a smiling Joe Morton standing over the dead bodies of his comrades and about to be shot himself, remains one of the most iconic images of cult telly.

    The result left the remaining production partners satisfied, and Metromedia had a package of 48 episodes it could sell around the world. ABC would eventually show the five episodes it missed out initially. But it stuck them on in summer, opposite the 1982 World Cup, where nobody but die hard fans would see them.

    The final series suffered a ratings drop in the UK, but not as severely as in the US - and the extra publicity over the finale ensured the show finished, if not a smash hit, then with its head held high.

    The double whammy of Doctor Who’s continuing success as Iain Cuthbertson gave way to Don Henderson, and ITV’s ongoing internal feuding meant, as with the US, Blake had won the battle with Buck Rogers on two continents.

    LWT’s commitment to Larson’s show wavered — the second series was shifted from its teatime slot on Saturdays to early afternoon, tucking in before World of Sport.

    The cast and crew disbanded. Terry Nation developed cop show The Badge for CBS, which lasted a year before being cancelled, and would go on to write for the original run of Magyver. Jared Martin eventually reunited with Morton for a sequel to War of the Worlds in the late 1980s.

    Rawle returned to the UK for a successful career in TV comedy, most notably in Channel 4’s Drop the Dead Donkey where he played a more cowardly version of Vila, while Bach - who’d married Ringo Starr during the making of the third series — made a few more films before largely retiring from acting.

    And OJ? Well, we all know that story…

    * * *

    Which takes us back to the burgers.

    Brian Waldman, seeing the popularity of Blake, got in touch with the BBC to try and licence it for his burger franchise. They in turn linked him up with Metromedia, who were surprised at his interest.

    But with production finished, they saw it as free money on a show that had ended, and agreed a three year licence for the brand to be used, sending over props and film reels of episodes to be displayed inside the restaurant.

    Short sci-fi films featuring the staff of the restaurant and local actors, including the unlikely pairing of Russell Hunter and future That’s Life presenter Kevin Devine, were shot on borrowed equipment on cheaply made sets filmed in storerooms above the restaurant, with the cockpit of a plane at Glasgow Airport used for fire rescue practice standing in for the flight deck of a spaceship.

    The combination of city centre location and the hype around the end of the show got the restaurant off to a good start, with people queueing down the staircase to get a table in the early days.

    “He was a smart guy, Brian. Very clued up. He’d run restaurants and hotels across the country. Glasgow was the testing ground for the idea. I worked there nine months and as I was getting ready to leave he said they’d agreed a deal for another one in Edinburgh, then one to open the next year in Liverpool. If it hadn’t been for the fire, who knows what would have happened?”

    - Jonny Mitchell, general manager of Blake’s Burger Station - interviewed in the Scotsman in 2012

    The closure of the restaurant brought an end to the saga of Blake, the space Robin Hood who lit up TV screens around the world for a couple of years. Wrangles over insurance kept the site closed and the licence to use the TV show expired.

    Waldman sold off the venue in 1985, which was renovated and became beloved 90s nightclub Archaos, famed for its under-18 nights and celebrity spotting.

    But that association with the show meant Glasgow, in the UK at least became an unofficial hub for fans, making pilgrimages to Blake’s until the fire that gutted the building. Occasionally you’ll still see them, the children of folk who watched it at the time, or who have rediscovered it via Netflix and Youtube, standing outside Queen St, pointing at where the entrance used to be.

    So if you see crowds of people dressed oddly, and hanging around Tam Shepherd’s this weekend, now you know why.

    Hamish Bland doesn't have a bio for me to put here. Glasgow really had a burger bar based on a US TV show, but it was Buck Rogers Burger Station.

    Next time: Personnel changes at the top
     
    Part 13
  • PicPart13.jpg


    George Gallaccio's time as Doctor Who producer is the perfect barometer for how fan opinion ebbs and flows. Maybe even to the extent that it shows fandom up for being a fickle beast.

    At the time it was on air, Gallaccio's Who was a fan darling. It was more grown up, it was more serious, it wasn't some kid's show like Buck Rogers *spit*. And if the ratings slipped a little, that was just the show finding its audience. This wasn't mass-market stuff, it was special TV for special people.

    Then came the next producer, the next Doctor and an increase in popularity and suddenly Gallaccio's time was a failure. It was serious and serious meant dull. And Don Henderson? Far too working-class. The Doctor is a Time *Lord* after all.

    Come the Seventh Doctor and the consensus was that Gallaccio hadn't been all that bad. The Seventh Doctor was the Fifth Doctor done right. Gallaccio had been trying to do in the early 80s what the show succeeded doing in the late 80s.

    These days the consensus, if there is one, is that the Gallaccio Years are the best ones to show to someone who's skeptical about the very idea of an adult still enjoying Doctor Who. Lower key, to be sure, but one that rewards careful viewing. Stories you can discuss afterwards. A Doctor whose eccentricities are quiet and underplayed, but still there. Not as posh as the Doctors either side, but one who is articulate, softly spoken and choses his words carefully. The one who in the 30th anniversary multi-Doctor episode took the absent First Doctor's place as the mature Doctor; the one with the clearest judgement.

    The George Gallaccio years are as successful as any other in the show's history.

    - Andrew Barbicane, The Complete Fifth Doctor

    __________________

    I think science fiction was a bit disenfranchised on British TV. The TV companies let the old time detectives scratch the itch for a certain type of escapist drama that might otherwise have been sci-fi shows. The dearth of escapist sci-fi had a knock-on effect to more realistic stuff.

    Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks had an idea for a "grown-up" sci-fi show called Moonbase 3. They were busy making Gabriel Baine, but the idea was hanging around and at some point, it was hoped that I might be in a position to produce it. But it never happened.

    The Baine Boom also had the effect of thing getting extremely middle-class. I saw one of the early pitches for The New Avengers and one of the characters was 'Mike Gambit', who was a Major in the Paras [1], someone who worked his way up the ranks. By the time the show was on air, he was 'Mark Gambit' and Peter Egan was playing him with upper-class charm, like a junior Steed.

    I don't want to make it sound like I have a problem with detectives or middle-class characters, but I saw a gap in the market and when I was offered Doctor Who, I saw a chance to address some of my concerns.

    Don had been disenfranchised, too. He'd been on the police procedural Strangers playing Inspector Bulman [2]. A second series of that got knocked on the head when Granada decided to make their Sherlock Holmes series. I liked Don in Strangers. He was eccentric, but not in a wacky professor way, and he was gruff and working-class, but very interested in learning. I won't lie, I encouraged Don to play The Doctor almost exactly like he played Bulman. I didn't cast him because of Star Wars, I'd forgotten he was in that. Apparently, even Don managed to forget he was in Star Wars once. [3]

    - George Gallaccio, Interview by letter for Banana Split fanzine [4]

    __________________

    "Season 18 was a weird one from where I was looking. We'd seen off some stiff competition and I got the feeling Doctor Who was no longer a plucky underdog show. Just going by the reactions from people I'd bump into at TVC [5], I felt I was being treated like one of the big players at the BBC. Well, as big as a script editor can be."

    - John Kane, DVD Extra, Dead Funny
    __________________

    "The main thing I think of when I think of Doctor Who is the fact that I came in at a time when there were personnel changes."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Wasting
    __________________

    "While season 18 was going out, we were aware that BBC1 would be getting a new controller. Bill Cotton was leaving to be Deputy Director of Television and Alan Hart became the new Controller of BBC1. What made things uncertain for George and me was that before he left, Bill had indicated he thought Doctor Who was a bit flat and we were making it too grown-up. Everyone else in the Corporation was patting our backs and the head of BBC1 thought we were doing it wrong.

    "Then Alan Hart came in and he said something very interesting. 'Bill's right if you're only thinking of Doctor Who as an early Saturday evening show.'

    "Alan had a new plan for evenings on BBC1."

    - John Kane, DWM Interview, 1999
    __________________

    "Constant personnel changes."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Wasting
    __________________

    SOMEONE NEW FOR DR. WHO

    Lesley Dunlop (25) is to be Dr. Who's new assistant in the BBC sci-fi series. Her character, Maxine Clegg, will be replacing Who girl Tina Gibson, played by Dawn Hope, in the 19th series of the space adventure in the new year.

    - Daily Mirror, October 8th 1981
    __________________

    "There were other changes."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Wasting

    __________________


    DOCTOR WHO MOVES TO WEEKNIGHTS

    Dr Who is moving to a twice-weekly cliff-hanging format as part of a new look to BBC1 schedules.

    The series, which has occupied the early Saturday evening slot for 18 years. will be seen on BBC1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays when it returns in the New Year for its 19th series.

    It will follow Nationwide on BBC1 at around 7pm. In the past, Dr Who has been a big audience-puller for viewers of all ages, although it was conceived as a children's show.

    - The Yorkshire Evening Post, November 18th 1981 [6]
    __________________

    "That stuff was putting a good PR face on things. The fact is, Buck Rogers had eaten enough into our ratings to give the higher ups pause. They thought, incorrectly as it turns out, that ITV would make another concerted effort to knock Doctor Who off its pedestal and next time they might get it right.

    "As it happened, the twice a week arrangement did fit in with Alan's plans for BBC1, but it wasn't quite the promotion the press releases made it out to be.

    "The ratings weren't quite at the same height as they'd been in the 70s, but it was still a popular show. But I think Bill Cotton's attitude still cast a shadow over us and I'm not sure we ever entirely shook that off."

    - John Kane, DVD Extra, The Wasting
    __________________

    "But mainly, it was the personnel changes."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Wasting
    __________________

    "That wasn't the reason I left Doctor Who. I'm proud of my time on the show, but I'd done four years and wanted to explore new opportunities."

    - John Kane, DVD Extra, Dead Funny
    __________________

    "Big personnel changes."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Wasting
    __________________

    Doctor Who is to have a new script editor. Andrew Davies, perhaps best known to our readers as the author of the Look & Read adventure Dark Towers.

    - The Celestial Toyroom, Doctor Who Appreciation Society Fanzine, November 1981
    __________________

    "Huge personnel changes!"

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Wasting
    __________________

    YTV MAN FOR TOP JOB AT BBC

    Managing Director of Yorkshire Television and Former BBC1 controller Paul Fox has been announced as the new BBC Director-General, replacing Sir Ian Trethowan.

    - The Yorkshire Evening Post, December 11th 1981
    _________________

    [1] The British Army Parachute Regiment

    [2] Bulman started out as an antagonist in the novel and later TV series The XYY Man before becoming part of the team in Strangers. ITOL Strangers ran for 5 seasons and Bulman then got his own spinoff in 1985.

    [3] That story is told on this page http://embraagain.blogspot.com/2013/08/an-interview-with-don-henderson.html

    [4] I needed a name for a fanzine. For some reason ITTL, banana splits are important to The Doctor.

    [5] BBC Television Centre

    [6] I couldn't find a news story about the slot change, apart from one the actual week of Season 19's premiere, so this is from whole cloth unless I eventually find an OTL source.
     
    Part 14
  • Alasdair Milne was the front runner for the top job, but his volatile temper, which had landed him in trouble with BBC top brass before, finally got the better of him. A trade journal had asked him about the changes broadcasting faced in the 1980s and when the topic moved onto the matter of the franchise changes (or lack thereof) in the ITV network, Milne could not resist letting loose.

    "The IBA have been engaged in nothing more than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    It was widely expected that they'd put ATV in its place, but the token changes they've asked for shows that they understand that ITV can't survive without its main purveyor of glossy showbiz nonsense. Peter Jay at LWT may make much of this supposed 'mission to explain', but fundamentally, ITV is a profit-driven operation. Television is just the product these companies put before the public. It might as well be baked beans. Ultimate power at ITV is held by bankers."

    Milne's impolitic rant drew howls of protest from every representative of ITV and the IBA. The least charitable responses read sinister undertones to his mention of "bankers", especially so close to allusions to ATV and its flamboyant boss. Milne hadn't meant for any lines to be drawn between the targets of his ire. Indeed, his approach was entirely scattershot.

    As the dust settled, the BBC Board of Governors could only conclude that Milne was too fond of confrontation and invective. The job of Director-General needed to go to someone who understood the BBC, but perhaps it needed just as much to go to someone who knew the world outside the BBC. Milne's crime had been being too much of a BBC man. He couldn't understand that people might actually like ITV, regardless of its commercial basis.

    Paul Fox, a former BBC man who had distinguished himself at Yorkshire Television was just the man for the job.

    - Martin Aldenham, Changing The Programme, The BBC and the Nation, 1974–1987 [1]
    __________________

    "The people at the BBC who were nervous about Paul Fox potentially commercializing or taking the BBC downmarket either hadn't worked in television or were too young to remember when he was the head of BBC1. He knew the job.

    "Alan Hart had been called to the DG's office for a meeting, but the main thrust of it was Fox told him not worry about micro-managing from a man who used to have his job. The only decision Fox took for Hart was point out there was a very good reason ITV shows started on the hour or the half-hour.

    "BBC1 started programmes whenever it was ready. I remember looking at a Friday night schedule at the time and the slots were 3.55, 5.35, 5.45 6.55. That kind of thing. From my point of view, I think Doctor Who suffered a bit from not having a fixed timeslot.

    "When Season 20 came, Doctor Who was on at 7pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and I the ratings benefitted from it.

    "But Don wasn't entirely happy. I think his confidence had taken a knock with Season 18 being menaced by Buck Rogers and Season 19 being less of a ratings juggernaut than the show had been on Saturdays.

    "History repeated itself. Just as Iain had left Doctor Who to go back to playing Charlie Endell, Don got an offer to play Inspector Bulman again. It was no secret that he loved the part and I think Doctor Who had made Granada realize what a great actor they'd had in Don.

    "As it happened, I was leaving too. Despite everything, I was regarded as having done good job on Doctor Who and was being offered Bergerac. But I took Don aside and said 'Don't leave at the end of this series, the 20th anniversary's coming up and I think there's going to be a special and it would be a hell of a send off."

    - George Gallaccio, DVD Extra, The Dalek Plague
    __________________

    The final evidence of the BBC's mixed-signals over George Gallaccio's tenure comes with his departure and replacement. BBC1 Controller was full of praise for the more grounded approach to Doctor Who. The fact Gallaccio moved onto the producership of Bergerac seems to be a sign that his bosses believed in him. But then he was replaced with a producer best known for his work within the BBC Children's Department, Colin Cant.

    If one looks at the script-editors, the anchoring of Doctor Who to creators with a strong showing in children's television begins with the employment of PJ Hammond as script editor in the summer of 1972. Gallaccio himself must have been part of this process as he gave the script-editor job to Andrew Davies.

    Some Doctor Who fans are precious about their programme not being a "children's show". But that doesn't elevate Doctor Who, it overlooks the high-quality of drama produced by the BBC's Children's Department. Gallaccio's approach may have been more mature than most eras, but in his script-editor choice, he showed he knew the value of keeping children interested in the show.

    The future direction of Doctor Who wasn't to alienate adult viewers, but it would bolster and increase its child audience. The 20th anniversary would be the first example of that approach.

    - Andrew Barbicane, The Complete Fifth Doctor
    __________________

    "I wish Lesley Dunlop had stayed on Doctor Who a bit longer. I think her vulnerability would have played nicely against the Sixth Doctor's boundless confidence. The Fifth Doctor is a little bit gruff, maybe even grim. The Fourth Doctor gave his foes the sense he might be something more terrible than them, deep down. The Fifth gave everyone that sense. Tina had her hard-nosed realism to protect her from that. With Maxine, it was almost like she stuck with the Doctor not because he was the most wonderful person she knew, just the least frightening. With the Sixth Doctor who is all about putting on a brave face and swaggering through danger, I think she would have blossomed. As it is, she's a bit overlooked and that's a shame.

    "Mind you. I wouldn't want to lose Sophie. Sophie is great."

    - Convention panel, Classic Series Companions, 2001

    __________________

    There's an irony to the use of the story New Horizons as a defence against the charge that classic Who was never emotional or political. It was exactly the interpolation of those qualities by script-editor Andrew Davies that caused the original writer to have his name taken off it.

    In some ways the irony is doubled, it's political in the least didactic imaginable. It doesn't tell the viewer what to think of the changing face of Britain, just asks them to reflect on it, good and bad.

    As originally written, New Horizons is one of those stories that's political on the outside, but hollow inside. The bad businessman is a pawn of the evil aliens, so you can pretend it's a commentary on capitalism. But nothing about the businessman's badness is shown to be part of the system he operates in. He's just one of the bad ones.

    The rewritten story is about a businessman who's idealistic, in his own way, but refuses to face up to the effect his property development is having or that his partners might not have anyone's best interests at heart but their own. It's a gentle message to the Labour government (in its pact with the Liberals) and the relatively new Prime Minister David Owen not to let their "Programme for Change" overlook the people at the bottom. The people who have to work in those skyscrapers and even more importantly, the people who don't get to work in them but have to look at them.

    Like a later story, the Seventh Doctor's (sort of) debut Paradise Towers, New Horizons isn't a reactionary screed against modern architecture, but a warning about shirked responsibility. These grand developments could be wonderful places to live and work in, if they're constantly maintained with an eye on the people who reside within them, not just the people who own them.

    The refusal to draw simple lines of good and bad is reflected in the clash between outgoing companion Maxine Clegg, disturbed by how much her hometown has changed while she's been with The Doctor, and new companion Sophie Chen, who genuinely wants her bosses to build a better Britain. Maxine is right about the need of the developers to communicate with the community, but occasionally wanders into "it's different from how it used to be and that's bad" thinking. Sophie is right that you can't run a community on sentiment and tradition, but sometimes seems to promote change as an end in itself, rather than something that should only be undertaken to improve things for people.

    There are few companion goodbyes more touching than the one where Maxine decides she has to the new understanding she gained travelling with The Doctor to improve the place she once left. With beautiful symmetry, Sophie concludes she should join The Doctor's travels to find out just how much she doesn't know about people. Full credit to Lesley Dunlop and Sarah Lam, who imbue their characters with perfect conviction.

    As the Fifth Doctor's time drew to a close, it could still remind us of everything that made it special.

    - Andrew Barbicane, The Complete Fifth Doctor

    __________________

    Doc5blu.jpg


    As it had done ten years before, Doctor Who's anniversary missed the actual anniversary, this time coming too late rather than too soon.

    The actual anniversary itself did not go unmarked. The newly rational BBC1 schedule, that started on the hour or half-hour, had left a gap between the children's programmes and the Six O'Clock News. Many different formats were tried to fill the gap, but luckily for us fans, Friday evenings from August 12th to November 25th were given over to Doctor Who. A run of classic stories from the Fifth, Fourth and Third Doctors. At the time, showing the Doctors in reverse order just felt like travelling back in time. We now know it was actually to make sure a certain plot elements were fresh in our minds when the anniversary special finally aired.

    - Niahm Bakewell, Doctor Who, The Compact Guide: The 80s
    __________________

    Here are the stories confirmed for the repeat run. All episode will be on BBC1, Fridays at 5.35pm.

    August 12th to September 9th - The Breaking Of Time
    September 9th to 30th - The Sound Of Evil
    October 7th to 28th - The Three Doctors
    November 4th to 25th - Terror Of The Autons

    - Doctor Who Magazine, July 1983
    __________________

    The Six Doctors eventually aired a month after Doctor Who's 20th anniversary on Friday December 23rd at 7.00pm. Fans complained that the show hadn't been honoured with a Christmas Day slot, but even the Friday before Christmas was a sign of the BBC's belief in the show, maybe influenced by the fact it was a regeneration story.

    PicPart14.jpg

    The Christmas scheduling of the anniversary story was even reflected in merchandise

    The title The Six Doctors was technically accurate, but in the reality, the show was carried by three Doctors. Alan MacNaughtan stood in for the departed William Hartnell, so that the show could boast a full compliment of Doctors. In practice, he did very little as it was agreed that Hartnell was fundamentally irreplaceable and MacNaughtan's presence was largely cosmetic. While Iain Cuthbertson had made an impressive recovery from his stroke nearly two years earlier, he didn't feel confident enough to fully participate and so the Fourth Doctor was confined with the First in the centre of the diabolical trap set up by...hey, you have seen The Six Doctors before haven't you? I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.

    - Niahm Bakewell, Doctor Who, The Compact Guide: The 80s

    __________________

    [1] IOTL, the relevant volume of the BBC's official history is Pinkoes and Traitors: The BBC and the Nation 1974-1987 by Jean Seaton, but the BBC is going to have a different relationship with the British government in the 80s, thanks to Morecambe and Wise

    There might be a break from updating this while a friend and I write out the plot breakdown of The Six Doctors
     
    Part 15 - The Six Doctors
  • Opening caption:

    "At the end of time, and at the end of space, there is a planet where the TARDISes go when their owners have finally passed on. A planet where they wait and mourn, in an eternal temporal loop, in silent remembrance of the Time Lords who piloted them. That planet is the most sacred space in the universe. And someone has violated it."

    The Fifth Doctor and Sophie land on a planet whose co-ordinates they can't fully identify. It's in some sort of pocket dimension or something -- the Doctor can't figure out exactly where, and the TARDIS is being curiously recalcitrant about giving him information. "It seems like she doesn't even want to land here at all". It seems almost completely deserted and empty.

    While the Doctor and Sophie are investigating this, they come across a group of Ogrons. The Doctor says "Ogrons! Wherever they are, the Daleks are sure to be somewhere around", but they watch them and notice that the Ogrons seem vastly superior, mentally, to the ones the Doctor knows. And this supposition is confirmed when one of them sneaks up behind them and shoots the Doctor in the back with some sort of ray gun. It's not a direct hit, and Sophie manages to drag the Doctor into a sheltered cave, where the Ogrons can't get to them. From the cave they hear what sounds like multiple TARDISes dematerialising. They peek out, and the Ogrons are gone.

    There follows an insert from The Space Museum -- a scene where the Doctor, Ian, Vicky and Barbara are talking about crossing their own timelines. There's a sudden flash of light, the sound of two TARDISes, and when the light fades we're now in colour. The Third Doctor and Kay arrive in a modern recreation of the same set we just saw, identically framed except that the Doctor is not there, while the other three have become transparent flickering black-and-white ghosts, frozen in time. Kay goes to put her hand through them, but the Doctor stops her. "If you do that, you'll get trapped just like them!"

    The Doctor has found a hypercube, like the one from the end of The War Games, used as a distress signal to call for the Time Lords -- but it was sent out by his own first self. He doesn't remember doing this, and says to Kay "Something is being done to alter the very fabric of time. My own past is changing under me. We must be on our guard -- literally anything could be happening."

    The Doctor pulls out his temporal calibrator, and determines that his earlier self was there mere moments before, and disappeared at the exact moment his own TARDIS arrived. He hits the calibrator a couple of times, and looks at it curiously. Kay asks what's going on, and he says that he should be able to follow the time trails, "but they lead to nowhere and nowhen". But then he smiles at her and says, "But then, I've always wanted to go nowhere. It should make a pleasant change after several centuries of being somewhere."

    The 5th Doctor and Sophie become aware that they are not alone in their hiding place, after a tense few moments, they discover The second Doctor and Zoe are also hiding, but from Yeti rather than Ogrons. The Yeti, too, seem to have vanished with TARDIS noises.

    On a viewscreen, we see The Third Doctor's TARDIS landing. A distored voice murmurs "How perspicacious. I didn't need to set a trap for this one. His own curiosity has brought him within my grasp."
    After some action, involving Daleks that, just like the Yeti and the Ogrons, seem curiously out of character, Doctors Two and Five meet Doctor Three. All have been suddenly weakened upon coming to this planet, but Five seems worst affected of all. Piecing it together they establish that this is connected to Doctor one's disappearance and suppose that Doctor Four might be similarly lost.

    Once again we see things through a viewscreen. The distorted voice speaks loudly, "They've got it. I'm sorry, Doctor, I underestimated you. I thought I'd have a bit more fun with them before they worked it out. You always did spoil my fun." Camera turns around to Doctors One and Four who are trapped in two of five bays on a gigantic contraption which also has five TARDIS consoles attached to it. They're grimacing in pain, with electrodes attached to their heads.
    The three Doctors who are free go into telepathic contact with each other, and try to see if they can find the other Doctors. All they get is the telepathic message "Don't. Don't come. He's going to..." and then a gigantic scream, which the Fifth Doctor echoes as he collapses completely.

    But the Fifth Doctor has collapsed precisely because, as the most recent Doctor, he was able to make contact with both his other trapped selves, unlike the Second and Third Doctors. Even though he's horribly weakened, he's got a fix on where his other selves are. He puts his arms around the shoulders of the other two Doctors, and they drag him along, feet trailing limply on the floor, as he tells them which direction to go in. They reach a giant building which has a faint hum, as of a TARDIS, and are then captured by the Ogrons and placed in the other three bays of the contraption, electrodes attached to their heads. Their companions are turned into the same flickering shadows as Ian, Barbara, and Vicky were at the beginning. The giant building is, in fact, the Master's TARDIS.

    The Master greets them, saying "Ah, my dear Doctors, welcome to Eternia. I see you recognise the name. Yes, you're on the fabled TARDIS graveyard, where TARDISes come to mourn their dead pilots."

    "We can't be. There are no TARDISes here. We'd have seen them."

    "Ah. Well, that's because I destroyed them. I took the dematerialisation and telepathic circuits of those I had no use for, and implanted them in my servants, the Ogrons, Daleks, and Yeti. The Daleks put up a little bit of a fight, of course, but it's amazing what you can do with a sonic scalpel and a stomach for mechanical screaming. The rest of the TARDISes disintegrated without those components, of course."

    The Doctors all look sick. This is the ultimate desecration -- the Master has come into a hallowed space and killed the mourners and used their parts to make slaves out of sentient beings.

    "I see you are impressed. You should be. But you haven't yet understood the full implications of my plan. I said that I destroyed the ones I had no use for, but of course there are those I did have a use for. Five of them, to be precise. The five that most closely matched your different incarnations. The five that would have bonds with you almost as strong as those with their original operators.

    "Ah, I see realisation start to dawn. Those electrodes on your scalps are hooked to the console of my own TARDIS. The commands I give to my TARDIS will be relayed to your brains, and thence to those other consoles. With an array of six TARDIS consoles all under my control, I can gain total control of the timestream. Of course, the temporal radiation does have some... unfortunate... side effects."

    The Master lifts his mask, revealing hideous scarring.

    "Luckily, I realised that in time and built this mask to protect myself. You all have this to look forward to. But not for long. With my control of the timestream, I am able to rewrite the whole history of the universe. I shall erase the Time Lords altogether, and put myself in their place, as the sole controller of the universe. You have no need any longer to call me Master. You can call me instead The Time Lord. The definite article, you might say."

    The Fifth Doctor realises there's only one way to solve the problem. He must force his own hearts to stop. He's weak, but the combined willpower of the other Doctors, with whom, unbeknownst to the Master, he's still in telepathic link and has been talking telepathically all through this, allows him to do it. He regenerates, and is no longer a match for the console he's linked to. As a result, the TARDIS consoles start to make a shriek, somewhere between a scream and their normal noise, and they all disappear, leaving the Doctors free and the companions returned to their normal selves.
    They escape as the Master's own TARDIS console explodes. He keeps frantically punching buttons, but nothing happens. His own TARDIS is dead.

    The companions ask if they're going to take care of The Master, but The Doctors say something far worse than him will be arriving any moment. The Time Lords turn up and say to the Master "You will face the ultimate punishment".
    Back in the TARDIS, Sophie nervously approaches the new Doctor who is rifling through a huge, wicker chest of clothes.

    "It's still me, Sophie." says the Sixth Doctor. "Different body, but I still love answering questions and I know you have one."
    "What will happen to the Master?"
    "Well, if they're lenient, they might just kill him. Otherwise..." The Doctor wanders to an adjacent room.
    "Yes?"

    From the other room, he shouts, "They might sentence him to an eternal time-loop on Eternia, surrounded by the ghosts of the TARDISes he killed. I doubt he'd like that. No, I hope they'll be merciful and just kill him. That's what he wanted, and it's the one thing he could never bring himself to do. And that's how I defeated him, of course."

    "What do you mean, Doctor?"

    "Oh, it's simple enough, child. He didn't have anything at all to live for, but he was too scared to allow himself to die. And when you're as evil as the Master is, you can't imagine anyone else not thinking the same way. He didn't understand that I did have a reason to live, and precisely because I did, I wasn't scared to die."

    The Doctor has re-entered the console room. We don't see him, but we hear him say "Sophie?" Sophie turns around and reacts with some surprise at his sartorial choice.

    ROLL CREDITS

    PicPart15.jpg


    This plot breakdown was written from my brief outline by my friend Andrew Hickey. If you'd like to try more of his writing, both fact and fiction, start here
     
    Part 16
  • "When one starts a new series, there's always that possibility it's going to run and run. I felt a little bit secure when it got commissioned for a second series and pretty confident when it got a third. Little did we know that ITV was going to put Doctor Thorndyke against us? There was a fourth series, but too many people had lost the habit of watching us. I suppose it's not a bad run.

    "Typecasting wasn't too bad but I was delighted when I got invited to do a Jackanory and once I'd done one, I was on the call-back list and did one every couple of years. Of course, it was there that I got spotted and then offered the role of a lifetime. So thanks, Doctor Thorndyke. By derailing my career a little, I got to play The Doctor."

    - Colin Baker, What We Used To Watch: The Brothers, BBC2 1998 [1]
    __________________

    There really isn't another story like The Six Doctors. There are multi-Doctor stories before and after it. There's at least one, at the time of writing, feature-length regeneration story after it. There's one other story after it that ends with the new Doctor in-costume and giving us an idea of his persona so the next series can start as a soft relaunch. But The Six Doctors is the only feature-length, multi-Doctor, regeneration story that ends with the new Doctor in-costume and giving us an idea of his persona so the next series can start as a soft relaunch. What is more, it's the only story credited to two producers. It's a unique collaboration between outgoing and incoming production teams.

    On the one hand, it reminds us just why the Fifth Doctor was so wonderful. Calm, methodical and above the comic exchanges between his other incarnations. But it also reminds the Fifth Doctor of who he used to be, mercurial, witty and avuncular.

    It fully deserves the dual producer credit. George Gallaccio demonstrates his style was right and Colin Cant shows why a return to an earlier approach will be refreshing, without running down his predecessor. The last few scenes make an appeal to the fans on behalf of both production teams as the first four Doctors give their approval to both the Fifth and Sixth. It calls to mind the transition between the more traditional Socialism of Jim Callaghan and David Owen's "Programme for Change". Both Prime Ministers frequently pictured together smiling, acknowledging each one's approach was right for their time however different it was from his own.

    - Andrew Barbicane, The Complete Fifth Doctor
    __________________

    "I had a whole plan for what I wanted to do with The Doctor. I wanted a black costume, which I got and I wanted to explore the darker side of the character, which I very much didn't get. I asked the producer why I wasn't going to get to play a spikier Doctor and his reply took me aback. "I cast you because you're lovable". Lovable! Me? But he assured me that was always a twinkle in my eye and he wanted to use that.

    PicPart16.jpg


    "Don was dressed as the Great British Eccentric with his tweed jacket, large bow ties and pink trainers, but he played the part against that type. I saw that I'd been cast as the opposite of that and it was then I realized that I could play with the role. Instead of darkness or having The Doctor be unpleasant, I thought about pain. Someone who's lived that long must have seen some terrible things. My Doctor is trying to keep people at arm's length, so they can't hurt him. He dresses in black, he tries to be aloof, but his enthusiasm for life keep showing through."

    - Colin Baker, DVD Extra, The Time Centre

    __________________

    "I was pulled in all directions when I became producer. I'd been sought out because of my work with the BBC Children's Department, but some people in the Drama Department were unhappy because they thought they might lose Doctor Who to the Children's Department. I managed to get a brief meeting with Alan Hart and asked him what I was meant to be doing. He told me they were thinking of giving Doctor Who an extra push in the export market. He said my job was to 'make the best drama you can that can keep children as part of the audience'. I think I had a lot of practice at doing that.

    "Some shows in the BBC were seen as prestige assignments, some were nightmare assignments, Doctor Who was the black sheep of the whole department. It was a cheap children's show that somehow pulled off effective productions and attracted some fairly impressive guest stars. I think Peter Hammond's approach to the stories onscreen leaked into the ethos behind the cameras. The Doctor Who production office was a terrible mystery from beyond time. You'd pass some famous face in the corridor dressed like a pirate from the planet Flange and ask a colleague 'how the hell did they get so-and-so?' And the reply would be 'it's Doctor Who, they do things like that'. I do wonder if Alan put me in there to demystify it. [1]

    "I don't think I was brought in to appeal more to the US market and I certainly don't believe I was brought in to fix anything George had done wrong. George's ratings were exactly what you'd expect for that timeslot and his AI [2] numbers were pretty enviable.

    "I know I came from the Children's department, but I think I was brought in because of my experience with dramas for the older end of that demographic. I don't think I was brought in to sell toys.

    "I'm not going to second guess Alan, but I think it was the 20th anniversary that influenced him. When he moved it to weeknights and had George in charge, Doctor Who had been in the same place in the schedules for 18 years. It was at risk of vanishing due to over-familiarity. As plans were being made for the 20th anniversary, I think a lot of us at the BBC took another look at it and realized just how deeply people felt about it. George told me that the clippings he was being sent had started to refer to the show as a 'British institution'. So I think the powers that be thought it was a good time to give it an extra push. Put it back on Saturdays and make sure it appealed to the whole family.

    "But George was not a caretaker producer. He had kept the show fresh when it easily could have gone stale."

    - Colin Cant, DVD Extra, The Time Centre
    __________________

    Alan Hart has somehow ended up with a poor reputation among Doctor Who fans and it's one of the most wrong-headed things in fandom.

    The fact was that that the producer and lead actor were stepping down, a natural time to consider any changes to the direction of the show. While that was happening, the US fandom was expanding and it was clear that the Fourth Doctor's stories were the most watched. It's sensible to take that into account. Also, I doubt Hart took all the decisions entirely by himself. His job first and foremost was to manage BBC1. Director of Television Bill Cotton will have had a great deal of input.

    Alan Hart was the man who put things in place for the more mature, early-80s stories. If he changed course in the mid-80s, broadening the shows appeal and putting it back on Saturday nights, maybe it's because he recognized the show had different needs than it had at the start of the decade. But there are still people who'll have you believe he ruined Doctor Who.

    - Supreme Power: BBC Management and Doctor Who, Doctor Who Magazine, 2002
    __________________

    The Six Doctors and Season 21 are the point that Doctor Who became acutely aware of its own past and started to look inward and backward.

    The new agenda the BBC forced on the show was clearly an attempt to return to the days of the Fourth Doctor, with a more ebullient and upper-class Doctor than we'd had in Seasons 18-20. This, as well as the lighter tone and change of format to 13x50min were something of a selling out to the US TV industry.

    Not only that, but the approach was applied inconsistently. Season 21 gave us a "soft relaunch", in which we are introduced to a situation, the companion and The Doctor in that order so as to acclimatize new viewers to the show. If that was the plan for Season 21, how absurd is it for Season 22 to feature a backward looking story called "The Four Doctors"?

    - Why You're Wrong About Doctor Who's Second Golden Age, Banana Split fanzine
    __________________

    "Well, yes and no. I've read both articles and Alan Hart was a nice man, but BBC1's fortunes declined on his watch. I don't want to get all finger wagging, I'd better watch what say given where I am, but…well. Present company excepted, shall we say, Doctor Who fans too often see the history of the BBC in terms of Doctor Who. Doctor Who muddled through in the early 80s. It was a bit isolated from some of the office politics because the production office rarely kicked up a fuss. It was a steady stream of ratings and income and people enjoyed working on it."

    - Andrew Barbicane, Convention appearance, 2003
    __________________

    [1] In Richard Marson's biography of John Nathan-Turner, he details how IOTL Doctor Who was seen as a problem show, with many tales of behind-the-scenes nightmares. But ITTL, there isn't the matter of Tom Baker arguing with directors or Philip Hichcliffe's overspend. I think a certain snobbery will ensure the show isn't beloved by the BBC execs, so a show that's relatively smooth-running has to develop another reputation. Doctor Who is made by weirdos.

    [2] Appreciation Index, a measure of how much the viewers enjoyed the show, rather than how many watched.
     
    Part 17
  • "Why do The Four Doctors? I have heard the criticisms and I think it misses the point a little.

    "Trying to win a new audience and looking at the Doctor's past aren't mutually exclusive. If you're telling someone who's never heard of Doctor Who what's unique about it, one of the big things is that the lead role can be played by different actors in completely different ways. Not only that, they can meet each other. You can't have a James Bond film where Sean Connery's Bond has to go on a mission with Roger Moore's Bond. But you can do the Doctor Who equivalent. So that's what I thought The Four Doctors would do for newcomers, teach them about a special aspect of the lead character.

    "When they did the pilot for the US series, people over here wondered why the first five minutes is Tony running about the place. But the fact the character can change bodies is one of the best bits. No wonder they wanted to tell the audience about it as soon as they can.

    "That wasn't the reason we did the story, it was just the reason I saw it as a good idea. The reason it happened was that Pat Troughton had enjoyed doing The Six Doctors and asked if it was possible to do another story. I told him I'd be delighted and he went and told Roger Delgado, they were great mates. So then Roger calls and said if old Doctors can just ring up and ask, he'd like to come onboard. No sooner had I said yes, Roger added that Iain was mostly recovered from his stroke, so it was only fair to invite him along to have a bit more time in the spotlight. That's how we ended up with four Doctors."

    - Colin Cant, convention appearance, 1997
    __________________

    "I was meant to be acting script-editor after Andrew Davies left, but in the end I overlapped with his replacement. Colin, Colin Brake, the new Colin, this gets confusing. Colin Cant had committed to having some previous Doctors appear in the show and he wanted it to be a thread running through several episodes of the series. Colin Brake was not a total newcomer, but Colin Cant thought it was a bit of a heavy brief to put on a recent recruit. All very smooth sailing actually, the main thing to come out of it was the new Production office slang. Colin Cant became referred to as 'CC', Colin Brake was 'CB' and Colin Baker became 'DB' or Doctor Baker."

    - Ted Rhodes, DVD Extra, A Face From The Past
    __________________

    "The production office tended to just refer to me as The Doctor after a while. Quite how got through that series without an identity crisis, I do not know. That's before we get to the old Doctors turning up.

    "There was a reluctance to just refer to us by surname, because Baker and Brake are anagrams of each other. Just one typing error and we'd all be terribly confused."

    - Colin Baker, DVD Extra, A Face From The Past
    __________________

    "Because it was all my idea, I get to spend more time onscreen than the other Doctors. I'll be in the first story of the new series, which will explain to any new viewers that The Doctor used to have different bodies. Then I'll come back at the end and have an adventure with Colin and Roger and Iain. Roger and I will have to stand on stepladders for the shoot because Iain's about 20 feet tall. I don't now how he doesn't get faint up there. He must be always picking satellites and low-flying aircraft out of his hair."

    - Patrick Troughton, Press release, A Face From The Past
    __________________

    "Sorry, you had a question. How was working with David Dimbleby? You love office politics don't you? So, yes, David became BBC1 controller after Alan Hart. The industry press were certain that Michael Grade was going to get the job, but I think Paul Fox let it be known he didn't smile on that idea. Is this in-depth enough for you? I suppose you know about the spat between LWT on one-side and Granada and Yorkshire Televison on the other. And was head of YTV at that time? Paul Fox. Even though it was ultimately up to the BBC Board of Governors, Paul's opinion didn't help.

    "David was a BBC institution and the son of a BBC institution. [1] I was the producer of a BBC institution and I felt pretty safe. If David was going to make waves, it would be more likely to be in Current Affairs, which was where he was from.

    "Usually, as a producer you have several heads of several departments between you and the head of the channel, but there are occasional chances to get some face to face time. After Season 21 had ended, David called me in for a meeting. Jonathan Powell, the Head of Drama was there but he didn't say much. It wasn't long before he left to form his own company. I don't think he quite saw eye-to-eye with David. As much as David was a well-educated high-flyer, he didn't mind a touch of populism and I think Powell didn't care for that side of things. Anyway, David said 'What do you think Doctor Who will be like in three years' time?'. I had to confess, I didn't really intend still being Doctor Who producer in three years' time, but I saw no reason it shouldn't continue as long it was still able to change and grow like it had been doing for 20-odd years.

    "I was about half-convinced he was going to cancel it. But he said 'Keep up the good work. We'll be getting an offer from you for a 23rd season, yes?' and that was it. I put my offer in a while later and we got our renewal. But I think that shows he already had something in mind for Doctor Who."

    - Colin Cant, convention appearance, 1997
    __________________

    "Even as fandom became more of a thing, Doctor Who kept its distance from its fans. You could hold a cult TV convention and Jon Pertwee would be there in his Gabriel Baine costume, playing up for the crowd. But you wouldn't have any of the Doctors there. Don was always busy working. Iain's health made him unwilling to take part. Roger became a stalwart of the convention scene in the 90s, but in the 80s he would more likely send a lovely video message. His genuine love of the programme was obvious, but the video would be of him on a film set, with a completely unintentional subtext that he'd really graduated from Doctor Who. Wherever he was, it did rather seem that anyone would rather be there than in a Novotel near Leeds answering questions about Daleks.

    "Colin Baker changed things in the 80s because he loved making appearances and making them in costume. He took the offscreen part of being The Doctor by the scruff of the neck and shook it up.

    "Home video also changed the show's standing. I think there was quite a shock when the sales figures came in for the first Doctor Who videotape, Genesis Of The Daleks. Subsequent releases sold similarly well. BBC Enterprises was always aware of the potential of Doctor Who because it was such a steady seller to stations overseas, but home video pitched it to a whole new level. Colin started appearing at conventions worldwide and for a while, he really seemed to be THE Doctor."

    - Andrew Barbicane, DVD Extra, Catacombs Of Terror

    PicPart17.jpg

    __________________

    "I'd had this seven-year plan for Doctor Who. I was going to be The Doctor even longer than Iain and gradually peel away the layers of the Doctor's character. But after two series, I'd done 26 fifty-minute episodes and Colin Cant had encouraged me to be lovable old Sixie right out of the gate. Don had been sinister, they wanted me to be bumptious and arrogant in a fun sort of way.

    "I once did an appearance on All Creatures Great And Small and the producer, John Nathan-Turner great character [2], said my Doctor was 'just like Danny La Rue'. [3] I found that a little surprising, I might not be dead butch, but I thought I was a little more macho than Danny La Rue, but John said 'He's the greatest and he knows he's the greatest and he loves to talk about how great he is, but everyone loves him. He's not mean or arrogant. He's a big head, but he's also a big heart'. Of course, The Doctor has two big hearts, but I think that's a fair description of Sixie.

    "There was one story where I got to show the dark side of the character, The Fear Factory. There was a scene where we find out the Doctor has a fear of being alone. As The Doctor wandered around the empty sets, thinking he was the only person left there, maybe the only person left in the universe, I dialed down the smiles until I was playing it very, very still. I really enjoyed that. Someone else had been watching and that performance led to me getting my next role after Doctor Who. But that's another story.

    "So, I was entering my third series, maybe thinking I had taken the role as far as I could, but looking forward to working with a new companion to work out a different relationship with."

    - Colin Baker, DVD Extra, The Sontaron Mutation
    __________________

    "Having spoken to other Doctor Who script editors, I believe it was an idea that came up every time they were devising a new companion. I think the make fun of me a little for being the one who went with it. But 'Artful Dodger-type in space', what's not to like?

    "Rebecca Lacey brought Zerreck to life wonderfully. We were careful to make clear that her constant thieving was a matter of fending off starvation. It would be easy for a character who's always looking to steal things to lose the audiences sympathy.

    "Every time a new companion is unveiled to the press, there's the usual chat from the journalists about whether she'll be a 'screamer' like all the others. It's reductive and unfair to all the hard work done by previous production teams. None of them have just been screamers, they've all been well drawn.

    "But we were faced with the issue of making sure we had a companion who was interesting. Sophie had been a very subtly characterized companion, I suppose we felt entitled to be unsubtle. So we turned the Doctor-Companion relationship on its head. Zerreck goes looking for trouble and while she tries to the right thing, her idea of the right thing and the Doctor's don't always line up. Robert Holmes loved the character and his last work for the series contains some of his best lines.

    "After all that, we only got to have her for one series."

    - Colin Brake, DVD Extra, The Sontaron Mutation

    __________________

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dimbleby

    [2] The 1985 Christmas special fits the timeline in terms of an All Creatures episode in production while Colin is also the Doctor and has had enough episodes to make an impression.

    [3] Female impersonator and showbiz giant

    Next time: a cancellation crisis and 18 months is too long to wait. It's the same, only different.
     
    Last edited:
    Part 18
  • "Whenever there's a change of bodies at or near the top, there's always a tension. It's why TV should be kind about its failures. It doesn't take a bad idea or a bad decision to make something fail. All it takes is for someone who likes you to leave and someone who doesn't like you to join. Admittedly, the opposite happened with Doctor Who, but we weren't to know that at the time. All we knew was, new Head of Drama and we didn't know what he'd want from us, if anything.

    "Charles Denton was an old hand from ATV. They were restructuring things over there and the BBC made him an offer before he committed to a role at the new style ATV.

    "There was a growing dichotomy across all industries and TV was no different. I don't know how much you can really blame David Owen, but in some ways he was the face of the way Britain was going. Very slick, a bit managerialist. Some businesses and institutions went along with it and others dug their heels in. Dimbleby wasn't bolshie about it, but I think he saw BBC1 as very gently digging its heels in. Charles Denton was, I think, a Paul Fox appointment and Paul Fox's BBC was very good at walking the tightrope between approaches. Denton's ATV pedigree gave him a bit of old-school appeal, but he wasn't lacking in vision. And that's where Doctor Who comes in. He gave it the biggest boot up the backside since 1963."

    - Colin Cant, DVD Extra, The Closing Door
    __________________

    DOCTOR WHO AXED BY CHARLES DENTON! DWB EXCLUSIVE!

    - Doctor Who Bulletin
    __________________

    You may have read in other parts of the fan press that the show has been axed. We asked BBC1 for comment and were told "Doctor Who has not been axed. Season 23 will go out as planned. The Head of Drama has been discussing the production bid for Season 24, but he fully anticipates that when it is forthcoming, he will be happy to commission a further series of Doctor Who.

    - Doctor Who Magazine
    __________________

    NO NEW DOCTOR WHO IN 1987! DWB EXCLUSIVE!

    - Doctor Who Bulletin
    __________________

    "Normally, one wouldn't give fan rumours any credence. But my agent had heard my name was under consideration for two series being developed at ATV, so he really needed to know if I still had a job at the BBC. The message came back 'Doctor Who is not cancelled, but things are changing, come down to the office for a chat'."

    - Colin Baker, DVD Extra, The Closing Door
    __________________

    "I suppose it took a BBC outsider to see the obvious. If Doctor Who was selling well with its middling budget and average effects, why not give it a bigger budget and see what happens? The proposal was to change Doctor Who over to a filmed series. But this came with two conditions that we all knew the fans would hit the roof over. There'd be a longer wait for the next series and there'd be far fewer episodes.

    "I took stock and decided to move on to something else. I'd already juggled a soft relaunch for Doctor Who once and that was enough."

    - Colin Cant, DVD Extra, The Closing Door
    __________________

    "I was told I could pursue other work and if that meant me not being available for Doctor Who in 1987, so be it. I get the sense they wanted to have a new Doctor, but everyone involved was far too gentlemanly to sack me and I was told when pre-production started on Season 24, I would have first refusal. I appreciated that.

    "By the time that meeting had settled everything, they'd already cast one of the parts I was up for, so no playing Inspector Morse for me. But the other part was still in play.

    "There'd been a TV movie of it in 1981 starring Worzel Gummidge himself, Bernard Cribbins, in the title role. Someone at ATV decided there was a series in it and my agent told them 'Colin is available and very interested'. And I got the part. Goodbye Doctor and hello Dangerous Davies."

    - Colin Baker, DVD Extra, The Closing Door

    PicPart18.jpg

    ATV Press Booklet
    __________________

    "Despite not being cancelled, despite Colin leaving amicably, I still look upon that time as a crisis. ATV couldn't hide Colin working for them and chances were the news would get out early on in Season 23's transmission, overshadowing the series somewhat. Also, we didn't know if the next Doctor would be cast by the time we wrapped production on Season 23. Finally, the news that the fans would have to wait 18 months for a shorter season was not something we were expecting to be received well.

    "We decided to tackle the first thing head on. Tell everyone going in that this was Colin's last series as Doctor and make that a big selling point. 'Time is running out!', that sort of thing.

    "Secondly, the Drama Dept picked Paul Stone to produce the new series of Doctor Who and he was going to have a generous amount of time for pre-production and filming was going to be long before eventual transmission. The Doctor Who production office became two production offices, so Paul and I could liaise about how his series would start and my series would end.

    "As it was, Paul had cast his Doctor before we'd finished making Season 23 and an idea occurred to me for a story that would shake the fans up a bit"

    - Colin Cant, DVD Extra, One By One

    Next time: One by one they fall, maybe till there's none at all
     
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