Posts Tagged ‘Michael Grade’

Colin Baker (1987)

September 17, 2009

Here’s a pretty angry Colin Baker talking to ‘The Sun’ in 1987 about his sudden removal from ‘Doctor Who’. He’d hoped to remain in the role for a number of years, so to get the boot after just two fairly short seasons was clearly a shock.

“I couldn’t take (being sacked) in, it was such a shock. I’d fought so hard for the show, I was stunned. What I couldn’t accept is that Grade didn’t have the guts to tell me man-to-man. If I knew why I was sacked then I would feel better about it all. But I got fobbed off with excuses about Grade thinking three years as Dr. Who was long enough. The fact is I only made 26 episodes before he cancelled the show. When it started again there were only 14 episodes. Hardly a long run, is it? All I wanted was a proper explanation. Many people believe, as I do, that I have been treated shabbily.

“Grade didn’t want me to say I had been fired. My boss, Jonathan Powell, the Head of Series and Serials, said that the BBC would stand by any statement I made. He strongly suggested to me that I should claim to be leaving for personal reasons. They actually wanted me to come back and do four more episodes, just so I could be killed off and fit in with their plans! I told them what they could do with their offer.

“I’m by no means a rich man from ‘Doctor Who’ because they never repeated any of the shows I did. I earned around £1,000 an episode and I was paid by Australian and American television companies who bought the show. But all the promises of extra money from spin-offs didn’t really materialise. Only small amounts of money dribbled in. But I was happy in my job and I was convinced that I was a good Dr. Who – certainly on an equal footing with my predecessors. I would have liked to have carried on for a good few years, and I believe that’s what should have happened.

“How could they expect viewing figures to rise when (Trial of a Timelord) was slotted in at such a bad time? Even so, five million viewers isn’t so bad. The Wogan show doesn’t do much better than that, but you won’t find Grade moaning about a show that’s his brainchild. I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from the viewers. Fans have made the job really worthwhile.

“I can honestly say that working on ‘Doctor Who’ was one of the happiest working experiences of my life. It was a fantastic team and there were always plenty of pranks. Once, when the production team discovered I was terrified of spiders, they set me up. I arrived in my dressing room to find they’d festooned the place with massive plastic spiders, even to the extent of filling the loo with them. There was never any bitchiness on the set – unlike a lot of BBC series.

“There have been times when I felt like just throwing everything in. I have considered selling up and moving to a little place in Cornwall. I wouldn’t mind running a corner shop and leading an ordinary life. I honestly do still dream that Grade will turn up on my doorstep and say it has all been a terrible mistake, but I realise that this will never happen now.”

Michael Grade (2005)

August 30, 2009

Just a short extract from a 2005 BBC Radio interview with Michael Grade, famously the man who axed ‘Doctor Who’ back in the 1980’s. I’m not sure he’s ever really explained why he left the same producers in charge for so long while being so sure that they were taking the wrong approach.

Q: You weren’t a big fan of ‘Doctor Who’, were you, at one point?

A: When I was running BBC1, a very very long time ago, the show was really creaky and groany, and the people who were making it, it was as if they’d never been to the cinema and seen ‘Close Encounters’ or ‘ET’ or ‘Star Wars’, and the production values, once you’d seen those movies, it didn’t stack up anymore. And I cancelled it. I became a figure of hate, I have in my bathroom at home an award from the American Doctor Who Appreciation Society and it’s a horse’s ass, in gold. I made the right decision, I have to say that when I arrived back at the BBC a few years later the first thing they told me was that they’d revived ‘Doctor Who’, and thank goodness because the production values, the scripts, Russell T. Davies’ scripts, the whole thing is absolutely magical. I love it. It’s brilliant, because they’ve brought it up to date.