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Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers

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2013-03-24 Sunday Times.jpg


THE BBC is facing a new sex scandal over allegations that two senior staff on Doctor Who used their positions to sexually exploit young male fans of the programme.

Richard Marson, a former BBC producer, has written a biography of John Nathan-Turner, who produced the series in 1980-89, which details how Nathan-Turner and Gary Downie, a production manager, preyed on young men visiting the studio, many in their late teens and below 21 — the homosexual age of consent at the time.

The book alleges that Nathan-Turner once engaged in a sexual act in his BBC office while on the phone to Biddy Baxter, the Blue Peter editor.

Marson describes how he himself was propositioned by Nathan-Turner when he worked on the Doctor Who Magazine: "After the first time I was invited to see a recording of the show, he ... got a bit frisky, shall we say. I was a bit taken aback; I was only 17 and he said to me, 'You're so f****** provincial'."

Downie, Nathan-Turner's partner, would scout for "doable barkers", as they called good-looking young men.

The accusations come as the Dame Janet Smith review of the Jimmy Savile case hears evidence from victims of the star and examines the culture at the BBC in Savile's heyday. During his time on Doctor Who, Nathan-Turner arranged for a Doctor Who sketch to air on Savile's Jim'll Fix It.

Marson admits his book, JN-T: the Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner, contains "things that it will be difficult for Doctor Who fans to read". One show insider told The Sunday Times that young men would often queue outside Nathan-Turner's office like groupies at a rock concert. In an interview with the online sci-fi magazine, Starburst, Marson said: "What you had was a promiscuous gay bloke [who] ... had the opportunity to meet a lot of young people and liked getting off with young guys.

"I don't think he was predatory, particularly; I don't think he forced himself on the unwilling. I was much more cautious about Gary, his partner. John was just 'go with the flow, life is a party . try it on and if somebody says yes, that's up to them'. I have a less benevolent view of Gary."

"Was John Nathan-Turner a paedophile?" asks Marson, who concludes there is no evidence of this.

In a 2012 interview, Doctor Who "superfan" Ian Levine, who worked with the two men, said the book, due out in May, would shock many people, and that things went on that were "horrible, corrupt ... and too awful to discuss".

Nathan-Turner died in 2002 and Downie died in 2006.

The BBC said: "Clearly allegations of this nature are extremely serious." It urged anyone with information to contact the Smith review or the police.

Additional reporting: Robin Henry and Georgia Graham

Caption: Nathan-Turner: died in 2002

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  • APA 6th ed.: Gillespie, James (2013-03-24). Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers. The Sunday Times p. sec. 1, p. 12.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Gillespie, James. "Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers." The Sunday Times [add city] 2013-03-24, sec. 1, p. 12. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Gillespie, James. "Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers." The Sunday Times, edition, sec., 2013-03-24
  • Turabian: Gillespie, James. "Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers." The Sunday Times, 2013-03-24, section, sec. 1, p. 12 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers | url= | work=The Sunday Times | pages=sec. 1, p. 12 | date=2013-03-24 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 January 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Doctor Who fans 'preyed on' by show producers | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 January 2021}}</ref>