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Doctor Who in war with Planet Maggie
Quote: Our feeling was that Margaret Thatcher was far more terrifying than any monster the Doctor had encountered.
I take any op-ed article in The Times (although this one is masquerading as a straight news article) with a decidedly large truck-load of salt. The writer can barely conceal their glee at the fact that this 'plot' failed. While the writer takes the time to at least partly conceal their editorial position, the comments section shows the prejudices of its readers, giving the show both barrels.
Overthrow the government using a venerable science fiction programme? Yeah. Right. If you believe that, have I got the horse for you.
While I have a suspicion that there is a grain of truth to the story, I think there is a lot of post-dressing up what happened to be bigger than it actually was.
The reason why Who was deserted was that it was bereft of a budget, and given zero support within the Corporation. Hence the decision to put it up against ITV's Coronation Street. The televisual equivalent of a cigarette and blindfold.
It also had something to do with the increasingly ridiculous amounts of self referencing it did in its later years. Lovingly called by the fans, "fanwank".
Oh I have no doubt the Doctor Who team did deliberately try to insert anti-Thatcher themes into their stories. Frankly, I think you could find anti-Thatcher themes throughout British film, television, music and literature in the 1980s and even more recently I recall David Tennant's Doctor making a funny face after mentioning Maggie. And a lot of cultural references to Thatcher were not all that subtle eg the comedy of Alexei Sayle or Spitting Image or Elvis Costello's song about stomping on Thatcher's grave.
Of course, the Times is trumping it up by referring to the Doctor Who references as propaganda.
If only overthrowing Thatcher had been that easy.
Anyway, the Times' suggestion that Doctor Who's decline was because of its cryto anti-Thatcherism is ridiculous. The problem was a precipitous decline in the quality of scripts during the mid-80s, John Nathan-Turner's preference for inexperienced writers as well as his being kept on at Doctor Who for far too long (and to be fair to him, long after he'd asked to leave), really bad music that detracted from the stories and plots that were increasingly incomprehensible not to mention falling budgets, lack of support from the BBC and being programmed against Coronation Street.
Edmund's also right about the show becoming far too self-referential making it a cult show inaccessible to all but the most devoted fans.
There - found what I was looking for.
Maggie really was a Dalek!