Wednesday, July 3, 2013

BBC Wanted Tom Baker for DOCTOR WHO's 2005 Relaunch

Since Doctor Who's relaunch in 2005, the world's longest-running science fiction program has become more popular around the world than ever.  It seems, however, that the first series with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor almost never happened on a number of occasions.

Blogtor Who shared details from The Doctor Forever: The Unquiet Dead, included as a special feature on the special edition DVD release for the Jon Pertwee classic "The Green Death."  Focusing on the years leading to Doctor Who's return in 2005, The Unquiet Dead contains interviews with former showrunner Russell T Davies and former Controller of Drama Commissioning at the BBC, Jane Tranter.

Some of the more interesting (and somewhat unsettling) tidbits:

Just before Davies' previous series Queer As Folk aired in 1999, Davies met with Mal Young (BBC Controller, Drama Serials 1997-2004) to discuss Doctor Who's return.  "I remember, actually," said Davies, "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!"  For anyone wondering, Tom Baker would've been 71 years old in 2005.

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."

Market research by BBC Worldwide concluded there was "great awareness of Doctor Who, but very little desire to see it."

Co-producers of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) wanted to redub Christopher Eccleston with a Canadian actor, but Russell T Davies told them, "You're not doing that to our lead actor!"  There's no mention of why they wouldn't want to also redub heavily-accented Billie Piper as Rose Tyler.

Tranter's choice for the Ninth Doctor was acclaimed actress Dame Judi Dench, who would've been 70 at the time and about to make the James Bond film Casino Royale with Daniel Craig.

And lastly, Michael Grade, the man that put Doctor Who on an 18-month hiatus in 1985 and later fired Colin Baker from the role of the Sixth Doctor, returned to the BBC in early 2004 and just like before, wanted to keep Doctor Who from returning.  "The person who was completely opposed to bringing back Doctor Who was Michael Grade," said Tranter.  "He thought this was a really bad idea."  On his return to the BBC as Director General, Mark Thompson also spoke to Tranter about stopping production on Doctor Who. The former BBC Head of Drama "asked me if we could stop making it.  'Were we able to stop?'  And I said 'No!'"

Doctor Who: The Green Death Special Edition is scheduled for release on August 13th.

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