Doctor Who BBC archive reveals the changing face of regeneration

LIKE a great many people this morning I imagine, I have been enjoying the Doctor Who archive of documents, pictures and letters the BBC has released.

The treasure trove centres around the regeneration of the Doctor from the very first change of William Hartnell into Patrick Troughton, saying it should be modelled around the horror of a LCD trip!

I think the biggest eye-opener for me was the initial resistance to each new Doctor compared to the one before.

During the golden age I had assumed the handover was flawless, much as it was between Chris Eccleston and David Tennant, and even this time around from Tennant to Matt Smith.

A great letter to the Radio Times slams Troughton however and the BBC for turning the show into something like Coco The Clown.

Of equal interest are a series of Audience Research Reports, where members of the public assess each Doctor’s performance, in some cases over his first storyline and others over the course of a series.

Here I was most taken by the report into the Sylvester McCoy era in 1987 which reflects the programme’s poor standing within the BBC at that time.

McCoy and his assistant Bonnie Langford fare badly in the appreciation index. In fact she ‘can only be described as unpopular‘, with 56% of respondents wishing she had been eaten in the Paradise Towers story.

I had forgotten as well that Who was being broadcast at 7.35pm on Monday nights then too – in other words competing with Coronation Street, which even new Who would struggle to do – perhaps leading to only 46% of people asked saying they’d want another series of Who.

Of course it wasn’t long after that when Michael Grade put it out of its misery.

I’ve just skimmed the surface here – have a look for yourself.

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