Saturday, 25 January 2014

Genesis of the New Series

Part Five

1. Int. Main Laboratory. Night

Grade: You will tell me. You will tell me. You will tell me!
David: Steven - please - don't tell, Steven!
Steven: All right, all right, just leave them alone.
The appointment of Andrew Cartmel as Script Editor in 1987 gave a new direction to the series with his 'Masterplan' and a darker portrayal of the Doctor by Sylvester McCoy from his second season.
The line of Virgin 'New Adventures' novels continued this direction throughout the 1990s, even in the absence of the TV series, and gave a new generation of writers the opportunity to have their Doctor Who fanfiction professionally published...
David and Karen listen helplessly as Steven relates his knowledge of future Doctor Who history.
We stay on Steven for the first few lines of his speech and then angle away to the tape winding on to an almost empty spool.
Steven: And Russell T Davies' revived version of the series proved to be completely resistant to any form of criticism in the mainstream media or any threat of cancellation from within the BBC.
Steven's voice fades.

2. Int. Main Laboratory. Night.

Close on the tape spool, now almost filled with tape. The machine clicks to a halt. Grade glances at the machine, and then at Steven who appears almost utterly shagged out.
Grade: This seems an opportune moment to end this session. Powell, release the prisoners and take them to the detention area.
The two guards quickly unstrap David and Karen. Powell does the same for Steven.
Grade: The interrogation will continue later. And I must thank you Steven, what you have told me will be invaluable. Take them away.
The BBC guards lead David and Karen out. Steven makes to follow, but Grade halts him.
Grade: Oh Steven, stay a moment, sit down. Let us talk together now not as prisoner and captor but as television professionals. There is so much I wish to know. Powell, take charge of the tape.
Steven shrugs and sits back in his chair.
Powell: Immediately Grade.
Grade: It will be your responsibility, and remember it is priceless, its value beyond computation.
Steven watches as the tape is lifted from the machine. His eyes follow it as Powell heads towards the exit.

6. Int. Main Laboratory. Night.

Grade: Now future errors will be eradicated. Ratings defeats will become victories. You have changed the future of the BBC.
Steven: I have betrayed the future. Grade, for the last time, consider what you are doing... Stop the cancellation of Doctor Who.
Grade: Impossible. It is beyond my control; the studios are already reconfigured to produce daytime television.
Steven: It isn't the transmission times, it's the quality of the programmes inside them... Programmes that you commissioned... They are totally evil!
Grade: Evil? No, no, I will not accept that. They are commissioned simply to survive. BBC1 can survive only by becoming the dominant channel. When all other channels are suppressed... When BBC1 is the supreme ruler of British television, then you will have peace. Ratings wars will end.... Daytime television is the power not of evil, but of good!
Steven: Grade, if you had commissioned a drama series to be filmed in your studios, something that was a ratings triumph and won awards regardless of overall quality... A drama series that would destroy all other forms of television drama, would you allow its broadcast?
Grade: It is an interesting conjecture.
Steven: Would you do it?
Grade: The only TV drama format... A populist entertainment ruling supreme... A fascinating idea...
Steven: Would you do it?
Grade: Yes, yes! To hold in my hand a master tape containing such power... To know that ratings on such a scale was my choice... To know that the tiny pressure of my thumb, enough to press 'transmit', would end everything of any decent quality on British TV... Yes, I would do it! That power would set me amongst the gods! And through Doctor Who I shall have that power!

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