Saturday, 1 May 2010

A Matter of Time: John Nathan-Turner

(12/08/1947 – 01/05/2002)

Eight years ago today, the ninth and longest-serving producer of Doctor Who, John Nathan-Turner, died of liver failure at the relatively young age of 54. He was in charge of the series for nine years, from Tom Baker’s last series in 1980 to Sylvester McCoy’s last series in 1989, when the show was finally cancelled. Although he is often criticised by fans for bringing the series to an end, it was his strong determination that allowed it to continue for four more years after the hiatus of 1985.

Nathan-Turner joined the BBC as a floor assistant in the 1960s, and first worked on Doctor Who in 1969, as part of the floor crew for ‘The Space Pirates’. He later served as the production unit manager for Graham Williams, and went on to accept the position of producer for Season 18. He made radical changes to the show, and cast the next three Doctors to play the lead role.

John Nathan-Turner was often blamed for many of the faults that occurred during Doctor Who in the eighties, despite the fact that the BBC were paying unrealistic amounts of money for the show to be produced of a high standard. This often resulted in cheap-looking stories such as ‘The Twin Dilemma’, which was the fault of other members of the crew other than Nathan-Turner.

The lack of money caused the hiatus of 1985, as the programme was beginning to lose viewers. John Nathan-Turner approached the BBC about leaving the series at this point, but was told that if he left the series, the show would be cancelled. Doctor Who was in a terrible state during the late eighties, with poor sets, special effects and monsters that couldn’t hope to compete with rival American shows. But through all the troubles, there was one man who stood strong and believed in the programme.

Please comment and rate below.


DanHarma said...

JNT is a genuine hero of doctor who, Doctor who would have died years before '89 if it weren't for him, and in the final two or three seasons (7th doctor), the series was the best it had been since Tom Baker, and the stories coming in were brilliant, he also cast PD, CB and SM as the Doctor, all of which were good decisions imo :)

Blink said...

I agree with most of that. The only things I have against him are that he mistreated Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy's first series was dreadful:

Time and the Rani
Paradise Towers
Delta and the Bannermen