MP makes plea for Dr Who

MP TIM Collins has launched a Parliamentary bid to ensure cult TV show Dr Who remains on our screens once it returns to the BBC next year, writes Michaela Robinson-Tate.

The self-confessed Dr Who addict and MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale is one of a cross-party group of MPs who has fired off a letter to Michael Grade - the broadcasting veteran who has been touted as a leading contender for the job of chairman of the BBC.

Mr Grade was director of programmes at the BBC when, in 1989, he was famously responsible for cancelling Dr Who and devastating the legions of fans of the sci-fi series. He later appeared on the comedy programme Room 101 when Dr Who was one of his choices of pet hates that he wanted to cast into oblivion.

The television series - well known for sending generations of children scuttling behind the sofa in terror - has been resurrected with actor Christopher Eccleston cast in the eponymous role.

Mr Collins - and five other MPs, including the Liberal Democrat and Conservative culture spokesmen Don Foster and Julie Kirkbride - is taking no chances about its future, and wants an assurance that a Michael Grade-led BBC would not abandon Dr Who once again.

In a letter dispatched yesterday (Thursday) the MPs said: "As you will know, the BBC is currently committing substantial financial and creative resources to a major revival of Dr Who. Some however are concerned that, were you to become BBC chairman, the project would be derailed - potentially wasting 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 Dr Who?"

In the letter, they remind Mr Grade that he has admitted to a "strong personal dislike" of the programme.

Mr Collins said he believed that Mr Grade had already said he recognised the chairman's job was a hands-off role, so he should be able to make the MPs the assurance they were seeking.

Mr Collins said he was looking forward to passing on his enthusiasm for the show to his son, Christopher, when he was old enough.

Reassuring his constituents that he realised the fate of the series was not the most serious issue on his agenda, the MP said he was using his spare time to campaign about the show.

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