How Doctor Who was revived for television

Paul Hayes, who comes from Clapham where his parents still live, tells the story of how Doctor Who was brought back to life by the BBC in a new book.

Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes

A former student at Clapham & Patching CE Primary and then the Angmering School from 11 to 18, Paul has released The Long Game through Ten Acre Films (available from from tenacre-films.bigcartel.com).

The Doctor recently returned to BBC One for a brand-new series.

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“People are going to think I dashed it off quickly as a cash-in!” Paul jokes. “Especially as it tells the story of how the writer Russell T Davies came to take charge of the series back in 2003, and just last year it was announced he’s going to be running the show again from 2023! But I can’t deny it’s all great publicity for the book!”

In reality, The Long Game is an idea Paul had been harbouring for some time, before finally getting it written over the past 18 months as the pandemic hit.

“I never really thought of it as being a lockdown project, but it is true that a lot more of the people involved were available to speak to me as the television drama industry had basically shut down last year so they weren’t busy doing other things and were happy to be interviewed.”

More than thirty interviews have been conducted for the book, which explores how Doctor Who went from the first attempt to revive it with a one-off film in 1996 to the point at which it was recommissioned as an ongoing series by the BBC in the autumn of 2003. Several of those interviewed have never before told the stories of their involvement with trying to bring the Doctor back to the screen.

“I’ve loved Doctor Who for as long as I can remember,” Paul says. “I have a very early memory of marching in the village Bonfire Night parade around Clapham and Patching, dressed as the TARDIS in a costume my brother and sister had made for me out of cardboard boxes when I was just five years old!

“The first proper book I ever read was a Doctor Who one. I have another very clear memory of my dad buying it for me at the old Volume One bookshop on Montague Street in Worthing. So the show has always been a part of my life.”

For his own book about the series, Paul says the inspiration came from it being something he felt was missing from the market.

“This was a book I really wanted to read as although bits and pieces of this story had been told down the years across various interviews, documentaries and articles, there wasn’t something which brought all the different strands together. But such a book didn’t seem to exist, so I decided I’d just have to write it myself!”

Paul, a writer and broadcaster who has contributed to the official Doctor Who Magazine and made several radio documentaries for the BBC, says that although the show wasn’t being made during the seven years his book covers, there was still a lot to talk about.

“It looks at the various different revival attempts and proposals for film and TV versions during those years, how the careers of the people who did end up bringing it back got them into those positions, the changes at the BBC which allowed for it to happen – all sorts of things.”

Paul recalls: “Through much of my teens I was a member of and then helped to run the old Brighton Area Doctor Who Appreciation Society, BADWAS, where we used to meet up once a month and occasionally hold little mini-conventions and so forth.

“I used to edit their little newsletter, running the copies off on the photocopier in the school library at Angmering!

“Whenever I am back home and staying with my parents and in the spare room which used to be my room, there are still all sorts of little Doctor Who knick-knacks, Daleks and TARDISes and so forth – nothing left over from when I was there, but odds-and-ends they’ve picked up in different places and put in the spare room to make me feel more at home whenever I come to visit, I suppose!”