10 'What Ifs' That Could Have Changed The Course Of Doctor Who

4. Michael Grade Didn€™t Abuse His Power

Michael Grade Mention Michael Grade to any Classic Whovian and the response you get will not be a pleasant one. Grade was the controller of BBC1 during the late 1980s and, rather than fulfilling the duties of his office responsibly, he decided to be a self-indulgent jackass and do everything he could to run Doctor Who into the ground. And it worked. Since Grade€™s meddling with Doctor Who lasted several years and there are four major points where it massively influenced the programme, there are four what could have beens in this case. The first notable point of Grade€™s interference is in 1985 when he put Doctor Who on hiatus for eighteen months after fan and tabloid pressure stopped it from being cancelled completely. Had this not happened, the new season that had already been fully written and partially cast would have gone ahead and (among other things) would have featured the return of the Ice Warriors and a three part Auton story set in Singapore. After this, Colin Baker would have probably gone on to do a few more seasons before handing the role over to someone else. But at that time, Doctor Who was already in decline and probably wouldn€™t have survived long into the 1990s. Grade€™s second big kick to Doctor Who€™s proverbial nuts was halving the annual episode count. Season 22 was comprised of thirteen 45 minute episodes and the seasons that preceded it had twenty-six episodes of roughly half that length. But after the Grade-induced hiatus finished, the episode count was reduced to fourteen 25 minute episodes. If the programme€™s runtime hadn€™t been effectively halved, there would have been room to develop the characters more and tell more in-depth stories which might have kept the axe from falling on Doctor Who for several more years. The third point where Doctor Who's history could have diverged because of Michael Grade is when the season-long Trial Of A Time Lord story arc finished and Grade sacked Sixth Doctor Colin Baker out of spite. As a lifelong fan of the programme, Baker would probably have stuck around for a good few years and had a chance to build his Doctor more as a character. It also means that we would have been spared the god-awful scene at the start of Time And The Rani where Sylvester McCoy appeared in Colin Baker€™s costume and a wig with his back to the camera for several seconds before Regenerating. And finally there€™s everything else Grade did to Doctor Who before leaving the BBC in 1987, most notably slashing its budget and scheduling it directly opposite Coronation Street. A decision which, to quote former Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel, is the equivalent of putting an infant on the M1 and letting him to walk to the other side. If this hadn€™t happened and the programme continued after Season 26, the next season would have featured a substantial change of the status quo. Which bring us to what if...
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JG Moore is a writer and filmmaker from the south of England. He also works as an editor and VFX artist, and has a BA in Media Production from the University Of Winchester.