Friday, April 02, 2004
Man, why couldn't our parliament be this cool?
HOUSE OF COMMONS
London SW1A 1AA
25 March 2004
Dear Michael Grade,
Congratulations on making the shortlist for the next BBC Chairman. This role is of course traditionally a non-executive one, but we would like to ask you for a reassurance on one specific point.
In your memoirs and in several interviews you have confirmed that the suspension of production of "Doctor Who" in the mid-1980s was motivated, at least in part, by your strong personal dislike of the programme. For example, you have said "I hated it - I thought it was awful" (This Morning, ITV, 13 November 1999). Two years ago (15th April 2002) you called for it to be sent into oblivion when you appeared on the BBC's "Room 101" chat show.
As you will know, the BBC is currently committing substantial financial and creative resources to a major revival of "Doctor Who". Some of the UK's leading writing and acting talents are involved, and the export and merchandising potential is very significant. The programme's impending return was celebrated last autumn at a reception at the House of Commons, attended by a large number of MPs of all parties.
Some however are concerned that, were you to become BBC Chairman, the project would be derailed – potentially wasting significant sums of licence payers’ money.
Are you therefore prepared to guarantee that, should you be appointed to the post, you would not interfere in any way with decisions about “Doctor Who”?
Copies of this letter go to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and to the media.
Tim Collins MP (Westmorland and Lonsdale - Con)
Don Foster MP (Bath – Lib Dem)
Stephen Pound MP (Ealing North - Lab)
Julie Kirkbride MP (Bromsgrove – Con)
Bob Russell MP (Colchester - Lib Dem)
Eric Pickles MP (Brentwood & Ongar – C)