50 Glorious Years: Episode 31 - 1993
1993 was Doctor Who‘s30th Anniversary year, and despite the lack of a new series or proper new tv episodes, it saw the Anniversary celebrated in style and perhaps with more love than the BBC gave it in 1988 for the 25th Anniversary.
It was quite the wild year for Doctor Who. It started off with rumours heating up that the show would be back as a one-off tv movie to celebrate the 30th Anniversary that would be released on home video only. Then there was an official confirmation that Doctor Who would be back as a drama production - on radio. The Paradise of Death was a 5 part story that was to be broadcast in the autumn, featuring the return of Jon Pertwee as the Doctor with Elisabeth Sladen and Nicholas Courtney, in a story written by Barry Letts. As the months moved closer to the summer the rumours of the 30th Anniversary special heated up and finally in June it was reported that Doctor Who was back in production at the BBC as a television program - a one-off 90 minutes story called The Dark Dimension, featuring all five surviving actors to play the Doctor, to be shown on BBC1 and released on home video. The rumours were true! After an incredibly long wait of 3 and a half years, we heard the news we were all waiting for - Doctor Who was back!
Unfortunately, just two days after hearing the official news of the return of Doctor Who to television, I received word that the special had in fact been cancelled. Hearing that news, after getting so excited for two days, was probably the most crushingly disappointing feeling I’ve ever had as a Doctor Who fan. We weren’t going to get a new story to celebrate the 30th Anniversary after all, and if we weren’t going to get a story made to celebrate something like the 30th Anniversary, it was starting to seem unlikely to even the most optimistic fan (which I probably was and am) that the show was ever going to come back. And it was also the first time that the word “cancellation” had actually been used to describe what they had done with Doctor Who since the show had ceased production in 1989. I always believed the show would come back but the time I believed in the least was probably the summer of 1993 following the death of The Dark Dimension.
Shortly after we did hear that there would be a 30th Anniversary charity skit that would only be about 15 minutes long. At the time I heard that news it seemed like a small consolation. I was probably more excited by the news that four of the actors to play the Doctor (Jon Pertwee, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy) were to act together in a straight-to-video non-Doctor Who sci-fi story the The Airzone Solution. And more mollifying still was the news of an official documentary, Thirty Years in the TARDIS, that was to be made and shown on tv by the BBC in November.
In October the big news came - after years of telling us that they were looking into independent co-production for the show, it was reported in reputable BBC papers that the BBC were in negotiations with Steven Spielberg to make a new television series of Doctor Who. It was the hope that turned the tide in celebrating the 30th Anniversary in a positive mood. Jonathan Powell had now finally left the BBC and his replacement, Alan Yentob, was interested in getting new Doctor Who made for television. Armed with the tangible proof that the BBC were interesting in making Doctor Who again, a November 1993 spent listening to The Paradise of Death, watching The Airzone Solution, Dimensions in Time and Thirty Years in the TARDIS was made a much more positive and uplifting experience as a result. By the time the 30th Anniversary year had ended, all doubts that the show would ever come back had forever been exterminated. As I watched the Dalek at the end of Thirty Years in the TARDIS repeat “We shall return!” over and over again, I had come to the conclusion that Doctor Who not only was going to come back to television - it absolutely had to.
Posted by Luca on Saturday, August 24 at 8:38 pm