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Former Doctor Who chief John Nathan-Turner with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker

Newsnight Asks: Was 80s Doctor Who Rubbish?

Well no, not really – but that’s just my opinion. But how do you think it will turn out? Will Newsnight be running a hatchet job on the John Nathan-Turner era of Doctor Who this evening?

Former Doctor Who chief John Nathan-Turner with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker

Former Doctor Who chief John Nathan-Turner with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker

The BBC has published a print version of the film by Shaun Key looking at the “naff” era of Doctor Who, and although we don’t know much about what will be broadcast I think we can expect to see former BBC Controller Michael Grade’s famous Room 101 appearance in which he savaged the show.

What we do know is that Ley will be speaking to former Doctor Sylvester McCoy, director Graeme Harper, script editor Andrew Cartmel, and writer Rona Munro (Survival), with McCoy opining:

“‘Even though I was on it, my children would rather have watched The A-Team’.”

But who is to blame for that? I’d wager the show’s stock was so low that even the star’s kids were completely nonplussed about their dad’s latest TV series. Nothing to do with the actor, everything to do with reputation and the behaviour of the broadcaster, which eventually put a refreshed series opposite Coronation Street and let it die.

What is interesting about the article – and perhaps we’ll hear it in the film tonight – is this:

The lesson of the 1980s, though, is not to take it for granted. A powerful producer can drive a programme forward, but in time can also become a barrier to change. Fans can buoy you up, but pleasing them can leave you deaf to the wider audience.

Now, those of us casting a close eye on Doctor Who over the past 30 years known this. But I wonder how easy it is to be aware of something when you’re in the eye of the storm…

Tune into BBC Two tonight at 10.30pm, or catchup with Newsnight after the event with BBC iPlayer.

(Via BBC News)


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