How left wing hackery killed Doctor Who…

Posted: February 15, 2010 by datechguy in doctor who, internet/free speech, oddities
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

…in 1989.

Sylvester McCoy, the actor who played Doctor Who for two years in the 1980s, has revealed that left-wing scriptwriters hired by the BBC wrote propaganda into the plots in an attempt to undermine Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.

Shades of the Adventures of Robin Hood circa 1955:

“The idea of bringing politics into Doctor Who was deliberate, but we had to do it very quietly and certainly didn’t shout about it,” said McCoy.

“We were a group of politically motivated people and it seemed the right thing to do. At the time Doctor Who used satire to put political messages out there in the way they used to do in places like Czechoslovakia. Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered. Those who wanted to see the messages saw them; others, including one producer, didn’t.”

And the Doctor wasn’t alone in this belief:

Sophie Aldred, who played Ace, the Doctor’s feminist companion, said a shared contempt for right-wing ideology had inspired “a real bonding process” for cast and crew.

“Thatcher was our prime minister and we weren’t happy,” she said.

Well of course they weren’t, after all you had people like Sakharov repressed not to mention people shot trying to cross the wall. Thatcher had much to answer for, oh wait that was East Germany and the Soviets the people Thatcher was opposing wasn’t it?

Well it didn’t matter after all it wasn’t as if a leftist tilt would kill a British institution that had existed for 26 years…oh wait:

However, ratings slumped from a high of 16m, when Tom Baker was the Doctor a decade earlier, to 3m and the show was taken off air twice: in 1986-7 by Michael Grade, then the director of programmes — who said it had “no redeeming features” — and again in 1989, two years after Grade had left the BBC.

Ah the joys of the left managing to make a British institution so unpalatable that it could not survive. One interesting thing to note, You see that same tilt in a few of the 7th doctor audios such as The Fearmonger. I wonder if this will come up in some of the commentaries?

I just realized that I neglected to give the deserved hat tip to Life Dr. Who and Combom. Very much my bad.

  1. James says:

    They did the same thing with 24. Went from an awesome right-wing show about a man with no limits taking on America’s enemies and beating the living stuffing out of them, to a wimpy snoozefest about how Katee Sackoff is not who she says she is and how Jack needs to rein in someone who took his advice to a horrifying extent.

  2. Dave says:

    It wasn’t “political” scripts that killed Doctor Who but poor scripts overall starting two or three years prior as well as low budgets, being scheduled against Coronation Street and Producer John Nathan-Turner being forced to stay on years after he asked to leave. Actually, most fans thought the stories improved somewhat in the last two years.

    Frankly, the revived series has had a number of political scripts – one two parter in the first series took direct aim at Tony Blair’s sexing up of the Iraq dossier – and the new show’s been a huge hit.

  3. James says:

    I’m sure you’d enjoy it, at least up until Season 6, after which it went to the crapper.

  4. dailypop says:

    The new series has all the subtlety of Colin Baker’s coat regarding any social or political agenda.

    The Classic Doctor Who series was almost always had a liberal point of view, so adventures such as Happiness Patrol came as no surprise. At its best, the series presented how difficult it is to work together when there are so many opposing groups vying for control (as depicted by the third Doctor’s relationship with the Brigadier and U.N.I.T. in general).

    Despite the press placing one paragraph about the cancellation at the end of an article about one story that openly attacked Thatcher, the series had been in a state if a slow death since Tom Baker left. The cancellation of Doctor Who had nothing to do with any political threat. Since the program was seen by fewer people each week, how could the BBC view it as a threat? Doctor Who was seen as shoddily put together and inappropriate for family consumption, hence the cancellation.

    Why the current version of Doctor Who which is far more hastily constructed (witness the amazing ‘devil’ in the Satan Pit that was made for free by CGi crew passing by because RTD had no idea what was at the bottom of the ‘pit’) and far more inappropriate for family viewing (witness the magical slate that gives oral sex from Love & Monsters) is hailed by the BBC is a mystery to me, but I understand that I’m in a minority on that one.

    One more correction; McCoy was the Doctor for three years, not two.