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24 September 2014

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Season 26

Regular cast:
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)
Ace (Sophie Aldred)

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

John Nathan-Turner had been content to remain as Doctor Who's producer for the twenty-fifth anniversary season but had again asked his BBC superiors to make that his last year on the series. In the event, however, he was once more persuaded to stay on for a further season. Andrew Cartmel also remained on the production team, taking him into his third year as script editor. Season twenty-six would continue to show the Doctor acting in an increasingly enigmatic light, manipulating events from the background rather than taking centre stage, while Ace gained an ever greater share of the action.

The Doctor's companion would in fact turn out to be effectively the pivotal character in three of the season's four stories, and - unusually - actress Sophie Aldred was given an opportunity at an early stage of the season's production to talk to the writers about the development of her character. This was a consequence of Cartmel's preferred approach of working with his writers as a team and involving them more closely in the production than would normally have been the case in the past. Ben Aaronovitch was particularly heavily involved in the development of the season, acting almost as an unofficial assistant script editor - and also contributed its first story.

If a twenty-seventh season of Doctor Who had gone ahead as originally intended it is probable that John Nathan-Turner would have remained as the series' producer, although whether or not Andrew Cartmel would have continued as script editor is less certain. If Cartmel had stayed on, writers in the running to contribute stories would have included Ben Aaronovitch, Marc Platt, Robin Mukherjee, Charles Vincent and Cartmel himself. If he had not, then Aaronovitch and Platt would have been at the top of the shortlist of candidates to take over from him.

The intention was that Sylvester McCoy would remain as the Doctor throughout the fourteen episode season, but that Sophie Aldred would make her exit as Ace after the first seven episodes (although she was under contract for eight) to be replaced by a new companion character. All these plans came to nothing, however, and a few months after the completion of work on season twenty-six the Doctor Who office was closed down altogether, with no new production in prospect.

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