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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 527 > NEW FACES

NEW FACES

As the 20th century drew to a close, Doctor Who’s future looked increasingly uncertain. Some viewers feared that each new Doctor might be the last…

PART Three: The Last of the Time Lords

By 1983, when Colin Baker was introduced to the public as the Sixth Doctor, Doctor Who was widely recognised within the BBC as one of the corporation’s most durable and reliable programmes. Under the tenure of successive BBC1 Controllers, from Donald Baverstock (1963-65) to Alan Hart (1981-84), the series had also become cherished as a vital part of the company’s strategic scheduling – notably during the mid-1970s when it provided the lead-in to an unbeatable Saturday night schedule that decimated the ratings of London Weekend Television (LWT), the ITV weekend franchise holder for London and the Home Counties.

The press gather at BBC Television Centre on Monday 2 March 1987 to meet the new Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.
Later that day, Janet Ellis interviews Sylvester for Blue Peter.
A photo from the press call featured on the cover of Doctor Who Magazine issue 124, published 9 April 1987.
McCoy at the 2 March press call with producer John Nathan- Turner and co-star Bonnie Langford (who played Melanie).

But when Sylvester McCoy made his debut as the Seventh Doctor in 1987, the programme’s standing had been significantly eroded. Three years before, Alan Hart had been replaced by Michael Grade, the former Deputy Controller of Programmes at LWT (1973-77), who made no secret of his enmity for Doctor Who. He postponed the 1986 series for eight months (from January to September), slashed its total running time by 40 per cent, and then scheduled it in direct opposition to The A-Team, an American show that had proved so successful on the ITV network that it was running for 39 weeks of the year. Doctor Who lost some two million viewers to The A-Team and Colin Baker’s tenure came to a premature end. With little time to cast a new Doctor before recording for the next series began in March 1987, producer John Nathan-Turner acted on a suggestion from fellow BBC producer Clive Doig and screen-tested Sylvester McCoy, then appearing in the title role of Adrian Mitchell’s The Pied Piper at the National Theatre. On Monday 23 February, McCoy provisionally agreed to play the Seventh Doctor for the next three years.

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Issue includes: Exclusive interviews with companion actors Wendy Padbury, Sophie Aldred and Carole Ann Ford BACK TO SCHOOL Class cast members Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Vivian Oparh and Jordan Renzo, and composer Blair Mowat, talk about the spin-off series' new audio adventures at Big Finish. LONDON, 1965! An inside look at Twitch's viewing marathon which is live-streaming over 500 episodes of Doctor Who's original 1963-89 run. GLASGOW'S POLICE BOXES One man's mission to save the disappearing police boxes from the streets of Glasgow. NEW DOCTORS The third part of our series of articles looking back at the ways new Doctors have been introduced to the public. WHO, ME Australian comedian Rob Lloyd tells DWM about his Doctor Who themed show Who, Me. THE MAN WHO SAVED THE DOCTOR A tribute to Graham Strong, the man who made soundtrack recordings of 1960s Doctor Who. THE CLOCKWISE WAR Part Four of The Clockwise War, our new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill, written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Martin Geraghty. TIME TEAM The Time Team takes a virtual trip to Gallifrey, watching three adventures set on the Doctor's home planet: 1969's The War Games, 1976's The Deadly Assassin and 2015's Hell Bent. THE FACT OF FICTION This issue's Fact of Fiction delves into the 2010 Eleventh Doctor story The Vampires of Venice. VORTEX MANIPULATOR We show you how to make Captain Jack Harkness' favourite gadget in a simple step-by-step guide. PLUS... The Blogs of Doom, previews, DVD and audio reviews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!