Next month’s DVD release of The Green Death: Special Edition includes another in the series of The Doctor Forever looking at the “wilderness years” of Doctor Who before its 2005 return. Titled The Unquiet Dead, the special feature includes interviews with former showrunner Russell T Davies and former Controller of Drama Commissioning at the BBC, Jane Tranter. They both discuss the story of Doctor Who and how they both brought it back to BBC One on Saturday nights. Below are some highlights from the fascinating documentary:
• Just before the Channel Four show Queer As Folk hit the screens in 1999, its writer Russell T Davies came to the attention of Mal Young (BBC Controller, Drama Serials 1997-2004). RTD remembers the first meeting:
“I remember, actually, someone in the room said, ‘Why don’t we bring Tom Baker back?’ and we all said, ‘Yes!’ I was sitting there, going with anything, ‘Yeah, that’d be great!'”

Jane Tranter (pictured left) wanted to bring back Doctor Who with Judi Dench.
• After market research, BBC Worldwide decided there was: “great awareness of Doctor Who, but very little desire to see it”

• In 2001, the BBC wanted RTD to write a science-fiction version of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, but he turned them down saying, “If I’m going to do science-fiction with the BBC then I want to do Doctor Who.”

• Co-producers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) wanted to redub Christopher Eccleston (pictured right) with a Canadian actor, but Russell T Davies told them, “You’re not doing that to our lead actor!”

Michael Grade returned to the BBC in early 2004 and, as he had done before, wanted a Doctor Who-free schedule. Jane Tranter says, “The person who was completely opposed to bringing back Doctor Who was Michael Grade. He thought this was a really bad idea.” On his return to the BBC as Director General, Mark Thompson also spoke to Jane Tranter about halting production on Doctor Who. The former BBC Head of Drama stated that he: “asked me if we could stop making it. ‘Were we able to stop?’ And I said’ No!'”
The Doctor Forever: The Unquiet Dead includes much more fascinating recollections and revelations. It is released on The Green Death: Special Edition DVD, out on August 5 (full details HERE).


  1. Sounds like a very insightful documentary and I've been looking forward to it since it was announced. Not sure what it's got to do with The Green Death but that's besides the point.

  2. Yep, it's a terrific piece – as anything involving RTD generally is. Absolutely fascinating. Spent a very enjoyable afternoon devouring the new stuff on this DVD; the RTD/Katy commentaries are priceless. Wish I had more room to go into detail in my Starburst Magazine reviews but I think my 10/10 rating will say it all!


    The bleedin' rotter! He just can't leave well enough alone, can he! Thank heaven for wonderful Jane Tranter.

  4. BBC wanted Baker? Just goes to show how many stupid people there were. I thought it was bad enough RTD never even ASKED Paul McGann, and his reasons for not asking him were equally as stupid. Now I learned the BBC wanted to bring back a past Doctor full time? Wow!

  5. @Mister, RTD's reasoning for not asking Paul back were because he and most of the Series 1 writers agreed that having the fanservice of a regen would only risk putting off new viewers as it wouldn't feel like as much of a fresh start. I actually believe it's been the wise choice as it's given Paul's Doctor the chance to grow and develop however they see fit to the extent they can even change his costume in Big Finish, without this choice I suspect Paul's Doctor would be running on the spot as he could only develop so far leading up to the regen.

  6. Seconding the 'I wish they'd realise these extras on a separate stand-alone DVD'. I bought 'The Green Death' only a few months ago – I'm not going to buy it again just for this as good as it might well be.

  7. @ Tom J, my point was that RTD didn't even ask McGann to play the Doctor full time. His reasoning for that was he didn't feel McGann was "new" enough. As if ONE TV Movie appearance that children probably didn't remember didn't count as new. If McGann didn't want to play the Doctor, that's fine. Just jump straight into the Ninth Doctor. But the fact they didn't even ask him to play the Doctor for at least a season…

  8. If they released these extras on a standalone DVD, chances are hardly anyone would buy it & it would cost more than it currently does.

    Lesson: if you want the special features, buy the DVD and pretend the main feature is the extra.

  9. Asking Sylvester back for the 1995 movie was a mistake, as McCoy himself points out, because having the Doctor regenerate in the first 15 minutes of the show just confused new viewers and also basically meant the story had to start all over again. It was fanservice but did nothing for people who weren't already hardcore fans and were just getting acquainted with the show. RTD learned from that mistake which is why he didn't start the new series with a McGann regeneration.


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