Michael Grade, the one-time controller of BBC1 and the man who put Doctor Who on hiatus for eighteen months in the mid 1980's, has been touted as one of the likely candidates to step into the role of BBC Chairman... and a cross-party group of MPs in Parliament have written him a letter to say "hands off!" Tim Collins, Shadow Education Secretary and a Conservative MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale -- and an ardent supporter of Doctor Who who was interviewed on the "Earthshock" DVD release -- is a signatory on the letter to Grade, which includes representatives from all three major UK political parties, the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. "The multi-million pound new series of 'Doctor Who' is weeks away from the start of filming," says the press release issued today. "The MPs, from each of the three main parties, are concerned that significant resources for licence payers could be wasted if Mr Grade seeks to derail the project. The signatories include the Culture spokespeople from both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties." The text of the letter is reproduced below. Thanks to the Honourable Tim Collins, MP, for contacting Outpost Gallifrey directly to share this with us. Update 26 March: the UK paper The Guardian is now carrying the story; and theWestmorland Gazette, the newspaper of the district that MP Tim Collins represents, today features an article about the letter to Grade. (Thanks to Chuck Foster)
HOUSE OF COMMONS London SW1A 1AA
25 March 2004
Dear Michael Grade,
Congratulations on making the shortlist for the next BBC Chairman. This role is of course traditionally a non-executive one, but we would like to ask you for a reassurance on one specific point.
In your memoirs and in several interviews you have confirmed that the suspension of production of "Doctor Who" in the mid-1980s was motivated, at least in part, by your strong personal dislike of the programme. For example, you have said "I hated it - I thought it was awful" (This Morning, ITV, 13 November 1999). Two years ago (15th April 2002) you called for it to be sent into oblivion when you appeared on the BBC's "Room 101" chat show.
As you will know, the BBC is currently committing substantial financial and creative resources to a major revival of "Doctor Who". Some of the UK's leading writing and acting talents are involved, and the export and merchandising potential is very significant. The programme's impending return was celebrated last autumn at a reception at the House of Commons, attended by a large number of MPs of all parties.
Some however are concerned that, were you to become BBC Chairman, the project would be derailed û potentially wasting significant sums of licence payersÆ money.
Are you therefore prepared to guarantee that, should you be appointed to the post, you would not interfere in any way with decisions about ôDoctor Whoö?
Copies of this letter go to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and to the media.
Tim Collins MP (Westmorland and Lonsdale - Con) Don Foster MP (Bath û Lib Dem) Stephen Pound MP (Ealing North - Lab) Julie Kirkbride MP (Bromsgrove û Con) Bob Russell MP (Colchester - Lib Dem) Eric Pickles MP (Brentwood & Ongar û C)