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24 September 2014

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Season 24

Regular cast:
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)
Melanie (Bonnie Langford)
Ace (Sophie Aldred) from Dragonfire Part One onwards

Regular crew:
Producer: John Nathan-Turner.
Script Editor: Andrew Cartmel.
Production Associate: Ann Faggetter.
Title Music: Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, arranged by Keff McCulloch.
Special Sounds: Dick Mills.

After informing Colin Baker in October 1986 that his contract as the Doctor was not to be renewed, John Nathan-Turner went on extended leave over the winter, under the impression that this would mark the end of his time as producer of Doctor Who. On his return, however, he was told that he would have to remain in the job for the following season. Despite his stated reluctance to do so, he had no choice but to comply if he was to remain a staff producer at the BBC.

A serious problem requiring immediate attention was the lack of any suitable scripts lined up for production. Nathan-Turner therefore set about as a matter of urgency finding a new script editor to succeed Eric Saward. Andrew Cartmel had been working for a computer company in Cambridge but had also attended some workshops at the BBC's Television Drama Script Unit and had got an agent on the strength of some unproduced scripts. After his agent, who knew Nathan-Turner, heard that a new script editor was required for Doctor Who, Cartmel travelled to London for an interview and was offered the job.

Meanwhile, recognising that time was running very short to get production of the new season under way, Nathan-Turner had already contacted Pip and Jane Baker and asked if they would consider writing the new Doctor's introductory story.

Season twenty-four had seen Doctor Who consigned back to a weekday evening slot, as during the fifth Doctor's era - although this time broadcast at the rate of only one episode per week opposite ITV's phenomenally popular soap opera Coronation Street, as would continue to be the case during the following two seasons. It had been something of a learning experience for the many newcomers who had joined the series, most of whom - including script editor Andrew Cartmel, writers Stephen Wyatt, Malcolm Kohll and Ian Briggs and companion actress Sophie Aldred - were either relatively or completely inexperienced in television work.

It had also taken some time for Sylvester McCoy, in conjunction with the production team, to decide exactly how his Doctor ought to be portrayed, and this in turn had taken time to filter through to the scripts. The season had consequently been a somewhat flawed one in itself, but at the same time had laid down a solid foundation for the remainder of the seventh Doctor's era - as would quickly become apparent the following year.

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