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Dr Who's real enemy! (1987)

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Gutless Grade never liked me says actor Colin Baker

Why I'll never forgive gutless Grade, by Axed Dr Who

Coward who can't face me

DR WHO star Colin Baker today blasts off against the man who sacked him, BBC Controller Michael Grade.

In this sizzling Sun series, he says he knew he would be exterminated, because Grade gunned for him from day one.

But he was still furious when the axe finally fell, because the high-powered telly boss:

  • SLAGGED off Dr Who in public after deciding to dump the show.
  • BACKED out of facing Baker man to-man to tell him why he was being fired.
  • INSULTED millions of loyal Dr Who viewers by calling them "loonies."
  • ACTED like a stern headmaster and treated grown men like schoolboys.
  • ORDERED Baker's boss to persuade him to say that he had not been fired, but had resigned
  • TRIED to make him look foolish by asking him to come back for four episodes—just to be killed off.


COLIN BAKER will never forget the day the bombshell dropped—by phone.

"Do you want the good news or the bad news?" asked the Dr Who producer on the line.

"The good news is that Grade wants the show to go on.

"The bad is that he wants to do it without you."

Colin, 43, and under the impression that he was contracted to the series for at least one more year, felt the blood drain from his veins.

He says: "I couldn't quite take it in, it was such a shock. I'd fought so hard for the show, I was stunned.

"What I couldn't accept was that Grade didn't have the guts to tell me man-to-man.

Excuses

"If I knew why I was sacked then I would feel better about it all.

"But I got fobbed off with excuses about Grade thinking that three years as Dr Who was long enough.

"The fact is, I only made 26 episodes before he cancelled the show.

"When it started again last year there were only 14 episodes. Hardly a long run, is it?

"All I wanted was a proper explanation, but he was too much of a coward. Many people believe, as I do, that I have been treated shabbily.

"Of course, I should have seen it coming when I first got the part, back in 1983.

"Michael Grade landed the job as controller just after I joined, and made his feelings about Dr Who very clear.

"He confirmed this one Christmas, when he saw me in the lobby at the BBC. I was in full costume, and there was no way he didn't know me.

"But there was not a flicker of recognition on his face. He just stomped straight past, without so much as a Happy Christmas.

"That's the sort of attitude Grade has introduced to the BBC.

"Instead of being a friendly organisation, it has turned into a cold and businesslike institution.

"In the old days controllers like Bill Cotton 'would have a word for everyone.

"Not Grade—nowadays the atmosphere at the BBC is very sinister. Everyone is very guarded and there is a lot of dark whispering.

"I'm sure Grade would 'want me to keep quiet about all of this, but the fact is that there are a lot of dissatisfied actors around.

"He didn't even want me to say I had been fired.

"My boss Jonathan Powell, the head of series and serials, said that the BBC would stand by any statement I made.

"He strongly suggested to me that I should claim to be leaving for personal reasons.

"But the worst thing of all is, they actually wanted me to come back and do four more episodes, just so that I could be killed off and fit in with their plans!

Tragic

"I told them what they could do with their offer."

Until his bombshell sacking, life was looking sweet for Baker.

His prize role as Dr Who had helped him mortgage himself to the hilt on a £150,000 home in the country.

And the birth of daughter Lucy, had brought comfort to Cohn and wife Marion after the tragic cot death of their son Jack.

Colin says: "I was by no means a rich man from Dr Who, because they never repeated any of the shows I did.

"And of course repeat fees bump up your earnings.

"I earned almost £1,000 an episode, and I was paid by Australian and American television companies who bought the show.

"But all the promises of extra money from spin-offs didn't really materialise.

"The deal was that I made 20 per cent of the earnings from any product the BBC sold with a likeness of me on it, like Dr Who mugs and T-shirts.

"Only small amounts of money dribbled in.

"But I was happy in my job and I was convinced that f was a good Dr Who—certainly on an equal footing with my predecessors.

"I would have liked to carry on being Dr Who for a good few years, and believe that's what should have happened.

"Instead the show was moved about, cancelled, cut down, and criticised by Grade, the very man who should have been backing it."

Grade grounded Dr Who and his Tardis for a year, then brought it back—cut from 26 episodes a year to just 14.

Slump

The team, says Colin, were pleased with the series, titled Trial Of A Time Lord, but despondent that it was shown immediately after Roland Rat and before dusk, when people are not actually glued to the box.

"There was no encouragement from Grade." says Colin. "He never visited the set once.

"It doesn't take a genius when Grade sow him in it he to see that they brought the show back, just to kill it off.

"How could they expect viewing figures to rise, when it was slotted in at such a bad time?"

By the end of the last series, the audience had slumped to five million.

But Colin says: "Even producer John Nathan-Turner, a great friend and one of my allies, was fed up. He didn't want to do another series. After seven years he had had enough, but they made him do it.

"Even so, five million viewers isn't so bad. The Wogan show doesn't do much better than that, but you won't find Grade moaning about a show that's his brainchild.

"It's terrible to hear the way he talks about Dr Who. On one radio show he dismissed the fans of the show as 'loonies.'

Slammed

"And when a former Dr Who, Patrick Troughton, slammed the decision to cancel the show, Grade had one answer, 'Actors should stick to acting.'

"Well in that case, controllers should stick to controlling and not pop up on the box all the time. Maybe if they did, they'd be better at their jobs."


'Boost Beeb' shock

TWO WEEKS after Colin Baker learned he had been axed, he was invited to boost the BBC by going to America for a week.

Colin was convinced there must be some mistake, and rang the BBC publicity office to check.

He says: "I was amazed when they told me it was not an error. They wanted me, as the existing Dr Who, to go off to the States with some other actors as the guest of BBC bigwigs Michael Grade, Bill Cotton and Alisdair Milne.

"I wasn't paid a penny as a fee, it was supposed to be a great privilege just to be invited along.

"I went mainly because I hoped I would be able to discuss my future with Grade.

"But he ducked and dived, and although he was pleasant to me, and terribly polite, we never had a chat.

"Yet publicljy, at prestige dinners, he would introduce me along with the others as one of the BBC's most important actors. What an irony!

"I really resented the way, as a grown man of 43, I was made to feel like a frightented schoolboy, with Grade the stern headmaster."


TOMORROW

Losing my job could hit Cot Death cash

Caption: Colin Baker in his Dr Who costume ... when Grade saw him in it he walked past without a word

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

  • APA 6th ed.: Carroll, Sue (1987-01-06). Dr Who's real enemy!. The Sun p. 1.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Carroll, Sue. "Dr Who's real enemy!." The Sun [add city] 1987-01-06, 1. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Carroll, Sue. "Dr Who's real enemy!." The Sun, edition, sec., 1987-01-06
  • Turabian: Carroll, Sue. "Dr Who's real enemy!." The Sun, 1987-01-06, section, 1 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dr Who's real enemy! | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dr_Who%27s_real_enemy! | work=The Sun | pages=1 | date=1987-01-06 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 November 2017 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Dr Who's real enemy! | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dr_Who%27s_real_enemy! | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 November 2017}}</ref>