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The Future of Doctor Who - One Point of View

By Ehren Stowers

It is now four years since the end of Survival - four years on and still no news of production of a new series.

It was known for some time before it happened that Doctor Who might be taken off the air, if not cancelled altogether, so it came as no real surprise when we were told there was no certainty of any future production. If this really is the end of Doctor Who as a TV series (and it certainly isn't for the print form. thanks to Virgin Books' New Adventures novels) would that be such a bad thing? Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi show in the world with well over 700 episodes to its name. It is these episodes that, if repeated regularly, would guarantee a new following - and fandom is what keeps any show alive.

A perfect example of this is Blake's 7. When it repeated here in 1987-88 many people at my school began regularly watching and praising it to the hilt! It only survived four 13-episode seasons so what gave it the following? Apart from its unique format, it was helped by the time it was shown here. The recent Doctor Who repeats were shown at 11.30 am on Sundays - a timeslot that wouldn't give any show a decent following. If The Curse of Fenric for example, were shown in prime time in NZ, what would be the result? Certainly Curse rates as one of the more serious and realistic stories to date; even now in 1993 it still looks impressive. When this story was shown in a prime time slot in England, it didn't top the ratings because not only has that country got numerous channels to tune in to, but it was placed against Coronation Street which already has a huge following. The timing and placing of a TV show is crucial to its success.

What lies in store for the future of Doctor Who? I'm sure that when faced with the enormous sales figures produced from the videos, books, magazines and other merchandise, the BBC will ultimately give the show another go in some form. We just have to look at the upcoming radio play to see proof that Doctor Who cannot be dead in the eyes of the BBC - and it certainly isn't in mine.

With Alan Yentob as the new BBC1 controller, I'm sure things are set to improve.

This item appeared in TSV 34 (July 1993).