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BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision

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1985-03-02 Daily Telegraph.jpg


BBC Television, which this week postponed the next "Doctor Who" series because it was too expensive, has paid £750,000 for a new American mini series without even seeing it.

The news came only hours after Mr Bill Cotton, television managing director, took the extraordinary step of personally contacting an angry "Dr Who" fan to explain his decision to freeze the next series because of lack of cash.

An ITV executive, who wished to remain unnamed, claimed the price paid by' the B B C for the six-part saga, "Kane and Abel," was outrageous. "It makes even 'Dallas' seem like a mere bauble."

The serial, based on the Jeffrey Archer best-seller, has only just begun filming. It was produced by Mr Michael Grade while he was head of production at the Los Angeles-based Embassy Films. He is now controller of BBC1.

The BBC bought the series, which stars Peter Strauss, Sam Neill and Veronica Hamill, at the Monte Carlo Television Fesival, two weeks ago.

While it would not confirm the actual price paid, the BBC said last night:

Attractive entertainment

"Kane and Abel" was bought in open competition with ITV at a figure just a fraction of the production costs of "Dr Who" and using a different financial allocation.

"We are confident the purchase will provide attractive entertainment at a tighly-competitive cost when it is screened on BBC1.

"Michael Grade will not gain financially from this deal since he has no financial involvement in Embassy since he severed connection with the company."

Mr. Grade and Mr Cotton ran into trouble with viewers on both sides of the Atlantic on Monday, when they were forced to confirm they had shelved the highly-popular " Dr, Who " for the coming financial year.

' Back to basics'

They wanted to divert scarce production funds and facilities into new drama projects.

In an attempt to dampen the flames, the managing director of BBC Television himself yesterday telephoned Mr David Saunders, co-ordinator of the Dr Who Appreciation Society, to explain the corporation's position.

Mr Cotton said: "Dr Who will be on the air in 1986, as it is in 1985, and as it has been for each of the past 22 years.

"Instead of running in January 1986, we shall wait until the autumn schedule, and then 'Dr Who' will be a strong item in the mix."

Mr Cotton revealed that the next series would revert "back to basics and established ways." Each episode would run for 25 minutes, over a greater number of weeks than at present.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Lee, Harvey (1985-03-02). BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision. The Daily Telegraph .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Lee, Harvey. "BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 1985-03-02. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Lee, Harvey. "BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 1985-03-02
  • Turabian: Lee, Harvey. "BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision." The Daily Telegraph, 1985-03-02, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision | url= | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages= | date=1985-03-02 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 February 2020 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=BBC buys £¾m mini-series after Dr Who decision | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 February 2020}}</ref>