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).