More from my short-lived spell of keeping newspaper clippings back in the 1980s, something I’ve never done before or since. Teenagers, eh?
These are all Doctor Who-related, spanning from the announcement of Colin Baker as the Doctor through to the announcement of Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor. They mainly concern the 18 month hiatus taken by the show, about which I was understandably obsessed.
First up, the announcement of Baker the Second taking the role, and our local paper’s very ringing endorsement of him after the “wet” Peter Davison. Harsh. The Hull Daily Mail was something of a staunch Who supporter , but they were perhaps an outlier in their complete adoration of Colin Baker. Commendably, they remained staunch supporters of his through thick and thin, as we’ll see.
The national press were clearly not so enamoured. Here’s a lovely (i.e. typical) bit from the Daily Express combining moral outrage about violence with mild salaciousness all in one story. The word “nubile” really doesn’t see the light of day much these days. Does include the quite amazing quote “I trust Dr Who rapidly makes it clear that people eating is wrong.” (Pedantically I do feel that sentence needs a hyphen, otherwise they’re taking a controversial stance against restaurants.)
I can only apologise for the poor preservation of this clipping. My Time-Space Visualiser is in need of tuning.
On or around the same date (my filing not being what it should be) the Daily Express also announced, perhaps slightly prematurely, that the show had been axed. Naturally they saw this in terms of the licence fee. I do think they deserve some kudos for a) bothering to interview fans and b) listing the Doctors in the right order and spelling all their names correctly.
At least there was some consolation! (Did they actually air these repeats, I can’t remember?)
The Hull Daily Mail also went with the Licence Fee theory (with the factually questionable observation that “Even The Master wouldn’t stoop so low just to make a point“) and joined the Express letching at Peri being “scantily-clad“, while continuing to big up Colin Baker as “the best yet“.
All together now, “Doctor in Distress!” I remember finding this single painfully embarrassing even at the time.
The Daily Telegraph weighed in, comparing the BBC to an unscrupulous drugs pusher. Sorry, “pusher”. Hard to tell if they’re outraged at the hiatus or just happy to have an excuse to cheerfully bash the BBC, but despite casting Doctor Who fans as junkies it’s quite supportive overall.
(It was during the hiatus that I went to the Leisure Hive 2 convention if you want to see my scans of the brochure…).
Moving on 18 months, and the Hull Daily Mail manages to announce the show’s return with the most negative slant possible (“doomed“!), and features some lovely disingenous quotes from Michael Grade where he makes out that it was all just about the violence. I think he reads the Daily Express. Congratulations however to this article for mentioning Peri without using the words “nubile” or “scantily“.
Okay, wait, they’ve sacked Colin Baker! Maybe it’s doomed after all… I remember hugely enjoying ‘Trial of a Timelord’ when it aired. That opening shot of the space station clearly went straight to my teenage fanboy head, just as it was supposed to, but even beyond that it felt very much like an old-fashioned season to me. The Vervoids story in particular hit me with nostalgia for the Tom Baker era quite strongly. I was outraged when I learned that Colin Baker was leaving without so much as a proper regeneration.
And so in comes Sylvester McCoy. Mercifully no-one feels inclined to letch over Bonnie Langford, who only merits the adjective “squeaky“. Michael Grade is quoted again on violence but also wants to see if “the stories are better“. Now he’s just being unreasonable.
Besides, with a “snow dragon” and a “berserk bunch of robotic charladies“, this will clearly be the best season yet.
I’ll confess to being quite underwhelmed by McCoy at the time. I didn’t “get” the rather ‘Indie’ take on the show that ‘Paradise Towers’ represented, I hated the new theme and opening credits, I felt the storytelling was amateurish, I was embarassed by the Kandyman, and I was baffled by the comedy of ‘Delta and the Bannermen’. I still don’t entirely disown those opinions, but I did warm to the remainder of McCoy’s run and there are some genuine classics among the last couple of years. I can even summon up some nostalgia for the credits sequence. Some.
And there my clippings go quiet, probably because I was suddenly far more interested in the arrival of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Teenagers, eh?