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Doctored episode (2010)

2010-02-22 Guardian.jpg


It began with an email from my agent. A Sunday Times journalist was doing a piece on Sylvester McCoy, a former Doctor Who. Was I available for a quick chat to provide some background colour as a former script editor on the series? I had been on the way out of the door when the phone rang. I came back to answer it. Silly me.

On Sunday I bought the paper. I scoured the TV section and found nothing. Then emails started to arrive from friends. "Great piece in the Sunday Times! I particularly admire the response to the interview question, must try that one next time." What?

I went online and found the article. Reading it was a bracing, icy shock. Then the story began to pop up on newspaper sites all over the internet. Like magic toadstools sprouting, I thought. I went back to my copy of the Sunday Times and discovered why it wasn't in the TV section. It was on page three of the news section.

The story was being slanted as an attack on the BBC, an institution I revere (I mean, last week's Composer of the Week on Radio 3 was "School of Bebop" - what could be better than that?). It seems I had inadvertently handed a section of the press a magic bullet to fire at the corporation.

My chief crimes were a cheeky remark about wanting to overthrow the government, and a speech I wrote for the show suggesting that nuclear weapons were not nice things. By Monday virtually all the papers had picked up the story. Then I got the call asking me to appear on Newsnight.

A few hours later I was on the sofa in the studio where they do the "soft" pieces. "Please sit with your right thigh on the seam of the sofa, Andrew. Look into camera 2, please. Thank you." I sat, thigh on the seam, between Gavin Esler and Tim Collins, the Tories' sci-fi expert, all three of us slightly orange from the make-up. I looked into camera 2. I manage to get a few key points across, and hopefully achieved some damage limitation.

But it was all a storm in a Tardis: a story that was bigger on the outside than the inside.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Cartmel, Andrew (2010-02-22). Doctored episode. The Guardian .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Cartmel, Andrew. "Doctored episode." The Guardian [add city] 2010-02-22. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Cartmel, Andrew. "Doctored episode." The Guardian, edition, sec., 2010-02-22
  • Turabian: Cartmel, Andrew. "Doctored episode." The Guardian, 2010-02-22, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctored episode | url= | work=The Guardian | pages= | date=2010-02-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 April 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctored episode | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 April 2019}}</ref>