Doctor Who‘s longest-serving producer, John Nathan-Turner gets a lot of grief for his extended tenure on the programme, so it’s great to see his time in the role is being re-evaluated – and Sophie Aldred has spoken about the ultimatum he was given by the BBC.
In staying on the show, Nathan-Turner saved Doctor Who!
In the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, Aldred (who played companion, Ace) says:
“The BBC were basically saying [to him], ‘If you go, Doctor Who goes.’ So he stayed on, even though he didn’t want to. He sacrificed his career, really, for Doctor Who.”
This would’ve been following The Trial of a Time Lord, when the series’ future was seriously in doubt and producing it seemed like a poisoned chalice to many. JN-T had been considering leaving for some time – after all, at that time, he’d already presided over the Fourth Doctor’s exit, plus the tenures of the Fifth and Sixth Doctors – but he stayed on throughout the Seventh Doctor era.
After this, of course, Doctor Who really was cancelled.
But in bringing in Andrew Cartmel as Script Editor and embracing the changes he brought with him, John produced some of the strongest stories of the late 1980s, including The Curse of Fenric, The Happiness Patrol, Remembrance of the Daleks, and Ghost Light.
Thank you, John, for keeping the ship sailing so beautifully.