Doctor Who News Doctor Who Magazine 463

Published on July 24th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

How Grade Almost Scuppered Doctor Who’s Return in DWM 463!

Doctor Who Magazine picks up the baton from the occasional DVD feature Doctor Forever this month to look deeper into the story of the show’s return in 2005…

Doctor Who Magazine 463

Click for hi-res version!

The next instalment of Doctor Forever (found on The Green Death) explains how Russell T Davies was approached by the BBC and eventually got to work on Doctor Who in 2003 – but it wasn’t long before the bogeyman Michael Grade began to prepare his knives. Doctor Who Magazine 463 looks deeper into the story…

In the first part of a look back at how and why Doctor Who was recommissioned back in 2003, DWM talks to the people who ensured its successful comeback, including the then BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning Jane Tranter, BBC Wales’ Head of Drama Julie Gardner, and writer Russell T Davies. Says Tranter:

When Michael Grade arrived back at the BBC as Chairman, Mark Thompson was back as Director General. Michael Grade [who had been BBC1 controller in the 1980s, and tried to cancel the show] didn’t like Doctor Who at all. Mark Thompson actually asked me if we could stop. I said, no, we couldn’t!

Also in Doctor Who Magazine 463


Doctor Who’s showrunner and head writer STEVEN MOFFAT presents the three pieces that he wrote for the actors that have auditioned for the role of the Twelfth Doctor – and presents them exclusively for DWM readers!


Prolific Doctor Who author BOB BAKER looks back on his career in an exclusive interview with DWM and speaks proudly of his most famous contribution to the Doctor Who universe: K9, the Doctor’s robotic dog.


As we await the announcement of the new star of Doctor Who, journalist Claire Budd and novelist Una McCormack go head-to-head to debate the burning question: IS IT TIME FOR THE DOCTOR TO BECOME A WOMAN?


Arriving in the far future, the Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah discover that the last survivors of mankind are about to face the deadly, parasitic Wirrn! The Fact of Fiction looks back to one of Doctor Who’s all-time great adventures – THE ARK IN SPACE – and reveals some surprising new facts.


It’s 2010, and the dawn of a new era as Matt Smith makes his début as the Eleventh Doctor. The show may have a new leading man and a new style, but it’s still Doctor Who in the latest instalment of DWM’s ongoing cruise through Doctor Who history in COUNTDOWN TO 50!


THE TIME TEAM take a trip to pre-war England as Chris, Emma, Michael and Will settle down to watch the two-part Tenth Doctor story HUMAN NATURE/THE FAMILY OF BLOOD and find that the formidable Family of Blood and their sinister Scarecrow servants are following the Doctor’s trail. What will the team make of it all?


Clara’s lunch date with the legendary pilot, Amy Johnson has been rudely interrupted by two identical copies of themselves… made from sand! Meanwhile, the Doctor is having trouble with his own doppelganger, and the real enemy is about to make its entrance. The latest astonishing comic strip adventure A WING AND A PRAYER – written by SCOTT GRAY with art by MIKE COLLINS – continues…


Change is an essential part of Doctor Who and has allowed the series to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate itself for 50 years. And, as JACQULINE RAYNER tells us in this issue’s RELATIVE DIMENSIONS, this means that the series can be a useful tool when teaching children that nothing lasts forever…


Jon Pertwee IS the Doctor, as former Doctor Who Script Editor ANDREW CARTMEL reviews the new Blu-ray release of the Third Doctor’s classic 1970 début adventure SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE.


The Watcher takes a look at Doctor Who episode titles in A History of Doctor Who in 100 Objects, and discovers that the names of colours have become a recent trend; he runs down the charts with Doctor Who themed titles in Top Ten Reality TV; the long suffering Professor Rubeish presents another joke of dubious quality; The Six Faces of Delusion has Jim Henson’s movie Labyrinth as a theme and asks you to spot the odd one out; and there is distinct Gallic flavour to this issue’s ousted Supporting Artist of the Month… All in this issue’s WOTCHA!

PLUS! All the latest official news, TV and merchandise reviews, previews, competitions, a prize-winning crossword and much, much more!

Check out Doctor Who Magazine 463, on sale Thursday 25 July, priced £4.75.


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

16 Responses to How Grade Almost Scuppered Doctor Who’s Return in DWM 463!

  1. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    It truly is amazing how much of an incredible jerk-wad Michael Grade was and apparently still is. You’d think he might have gotten a bit more intelligent, become a better businessman or perhaps just mellowed a bit…….but nope.

  2. avatar Christine says:

    But he actually is in the book “behind the sofa” which is all about more or less famous (or infamous in his case perhaps) people writing up their experiences with Doctor Who. In there he admits to hating the show and not wanting it to come back but now watching it with his grandchildren and actually admitting it has some merit after all! So perhaps he has mellowed somewhat…this happened 10 years ago after all! I am looking forward to reading this feature though!

    • avatar Francis cave says:

      Yes but in the book grade only says this about the new series. He explains that he still thinks the old one was crap and that in his mind when it came back it was a completely different show.

  3. avatar Bob James says:

    I seem to remember RTD making some statement to the effect that Grade had subsequently congratulated him on bringing the show back so powerfully. Something along the lines of his (Grade) believing that it couldn’t be done, but that he had to admit that RTD had accomplished this. That said, Grade, Powell, and Thompson are still low class a**holes who seem to think that creating content to their own tastes, and in their own image is the way to run a network. That would be fine if they and their bunch were the only ones watching. The fact remains, that RTD and his team brought Doctor Who back with the full support and backing of the BBC. Grade won a battle back in the eighties, but Doctor Who crushed his arrogant, elitist self, and won the war.

  4. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    There is more to the Grade cancellation of Who in the eighties….but it’s not for me to say…

    Needless to say he clearly hated the show though, and unlike Lew Grade he didn’t understand genre programmes or viewers.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      There are comments on the issue in volume 6 of the book About Time

  5. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    I would love DWM to conduct an interview with this man. To hear him explain (or try to defend) his past actions and hear his views on the show now. The man is still a brainless and ignorant dick though!

    • avatar chris says:

      Grade thought Doctor Who was “rubbish” and “pathetic”,this is from the man who commissioned Mind Your Language,puts Lew Grades successes to shame…….

  6. avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

    I think Michael Grade had a point about Doctor Who in the eighties, the excellent JNT book makes it clear he’s by no means the panto villain he’s painted to be. Without fresh thinking and a serious budget (both things RTD is able to bring to the table) Doctor Who was doomed to become a niche, fading product of a bygone era.

    By the time of Season 23 both the audience figures, but more damningly audience appreciation figures (particularly those relating to Colin Baker) were slipping. Add in the sheer loathing personally for JNT by Powell within the Drama Department, then it is clear that Doctor Who’s days were numbered.

    Fast forward 15 years and Grade is back and confronted by the prospect of a) something he considered a relic and a failure b) something that is going to cost a stack c) something niche and genre; and d) a huge risk, I’m not surprised he demanded a rethink.

    To his credit, he’s accepted he was wrong and moved on. And much as many of you would like to strap him into a Wicker Man with Pamela Nash, for crimes against Doctor Who, we should too.

  7. avatar Francis Cave says:

    I don’t think Grade has ever accepted he was wrong.

    He regards the new series as effectively a completely different to the original with only the name the common link.

    As I heard Eric Saward say in a recent interview, he critiscised the original series for looking cheap with no good ideas yet rather than trying to do something about it just put a bullet in its head.

    Having said that I agree that he doesn’t come accross that badly in the JNT book.

    Powell on the other hand sounds like a complete idiot. It actually sounds like he knew what could be done to save the series but admits that he just didn’t care and just left it to slowly die.

  8. avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

    But Francis; to fix Doctor Who arguably took more money it had ever had, effectively a 15 year pre-production period, a failed Anglo-American pilot and the greatest television dramatist of his generation to put his career and reputation on the line alongside that of the entire drama department. None of these options were available to Michael Grade and team in 1985.

    I also think Michael Grade has more than accepted he was wrong about the idea of Doctor Who being passe, but he was spot on about it needing to be better resourced than it ever could be back then.

    • avatar Francis Cave says:

      Yes but the thing is Grade & Co never even tried to fix or change things within the budget available.

      At first they just cancelled the series outright then backtracked and said it was on hiatus. During the period between this and the production of season 23 did Grade or anyone make any suggestions on how it could be made better or put in place anything to make thing different, e.g. new script editor, new or additional producer in place of extra cash?

      No they just said “just do” and shortened the number of episodes being produced as well as putting it against Coronation Street.

      Its like amputating a dogs leg then complaining when it limps.

      Grade made no bones about it that he just didn’t like the original series full stop.

      In the Behind the Sofa book he defends liking the new series by saying that it has nothing in common with the old series apart from the name, i.e. he was right all along.

      • avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

        Except, those decisions were not Grade’s to make. Jonathan Powell was the man in charge and hated JNT and by extension the programme. He didn’t want him on any other drama shows of his, so in effect marooned him on Doctor Who hoping he’d fix it or f**k off ad take the programme with him. It’s real life. People take decisions based on what they see and who they are dealing with, and by then Doctor Who had pretty much run out of supporters in the BBC with the exception of the BBC Enterprises crew.

        Let’s be honest; Doctor Who was beginning to creak very badly by 1986. Would anyone other than an ardent fan (and there was plenty of disquiet amongst that section of the audience) have not looked at it and have concluded it was beyond fixing, 20+ years is a good run and moved on.

  9. avatar Lewis Seymour says:

    The most amazing information here is about Thompson – incredible that he should phone up one of his own heads and ask for a programme already in production to be stopped – how would they have explained it in the press? These people are symptomatic of a BBC mentality – only very slowly changing now after the many scandals – which seemed to have forgotten that the purpose of the BBC was to make television programmes, not build huges office blocks.

    • avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

      Mark Thompson hasn’t come out very well at all from the post-Savile revelations, so the idea he might be supplicant to the incoming Grade powerhouse is not that much of a shock.

  10. avatar Joe Montagne says:

    Michael Grade is a bigot, coward, bully, and opportunist.

    At the risk of sounding prejudiced myself, I will say that Grade is from a generation not known for its love of science fiction and fantasy. That’s the first strike. Next is his personal squabble with Colin Baker. Can you wonder why Grade was looking for every excuse and opportunity to kill DW, every dirty trick he could borrow from NBC in 1969?

    Notice that Grade is free to shoot his mouth off about DW when its without any risk to him? But when there is the slightest risk, then he shuts up and admits fault. Now he’s in a position where nothing he says or does makes any difference – so expect some sneaky Who-bashing from him again.

    Or how about his comment that the BBC is too bureaucratic? Bureaucracy can sometimes be a good thing, especially when the alternative is autocracy. Too bad Lord Grade, Master of the Universe, misses the old days when the was the Ceausescu of the BBC.

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