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Doctor Who may be lauded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, but ex-BBC boss Michael Grade hated it so much that he prompted the cancellation of the original run.
Grade, whose full title is Baron Grade of Yarmouth, has admitted that when he became BBC One controller he was thoroughly unimpressed by the cult sci-fi series, slating it as “garbage” for its low production values.
The series had been running on BBC One since 1963, but when Grade took over in 1984 he made no secret of his dislike of it and the following year postponed the series, deciding its budget would be better spent elsewhere.
Now he has told the Evening Standard: “I hated Doctor Who. I said to the producer, ‘Do you go to the cinema much? Have you seen Star Wars or ET?’ He said yes.
“I said, ‘I’ve got news for you, so has our audience.’ What we were serving up as science fiction was garbage.”
Doctor Who did eventually return to BBC One in late 1986, but Grade subsequently fired Colin Baker from the lead role, telling The Telegraph in 2009 that he felt the actor’s performance was “absolutely God-awful”.
But viewer numbers continued to fall and in 1989, the next BBC One controller Jonathan Powell cancelled the show, which did not return until its 2005 revival.
Grade has had more positive words for the new incarnation of the series, admitting to the Radio Times in 2012: “The show still leaves me cold, but I admire it, which I never did before.”
Doctor Who wasn’t the only beloved series that Grade hovered the BBC budget axe over – he also revealed to the Evening Standard that he was not a fan of Blackadder, but felt he had managed to save the show by changing it to a studio-based production.
He said: “They were all running around the hillsides in Wales trying to shoot a Hollywood comedy on a BBC minuscule budget.
“I made them come into the studio and do it with an audience. And the rest is history. I saved them from themselves.”