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  1. #1
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    Default JNT: 10 Years Gone

    Stay Tuned!

    It's ten years today since one of Doctor Who's most controversial figures, John Nathan-Turner sadly died.

    What do you think of the man who took Doctor Who into and through the 80s and what is his legacy?

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  2. #2
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    I think time has vindicated him in an astonishing way.

    He really got it in the neck while he was in charge didn't he? Fans would campaign for him to lose his job, he got so much flack. Yet you look at the time when he was in charge and you see ten years of wildly versatile and interesting stories. Okay, everyone has those they hate but only the truly ignorant and hard to please couldn't find something to love there, from the mystical symbolism of "Snakedance" to the creepy intellectualism of "Ghost Light" to the monster-fests of "Attack of the Cybermen" and "Ressurection of the Daleks". Then there were the classics - "The Five Doctors", "The Caves of Androzani", "Remembrance of the Daleks", "Kinda", "Logopolis", "Earthshock", "Revelation of the Daleks", "The Curse of Fenric", "Greatest Show".

    He gave the show international appeal by creating American and Australian companions, increasing the show's appeal around the world; he attracted much criticism for his convention jaunts, but he ensured the shows stars promoted it all over the place. He made a hell of a lot on a small budget - a few, but not very many, of the eighties shows look really cheap and when they do it's usually because there is an "Alien on a shoestring" blockbuster nearby.

    But most of all I'm struck with how forward thinking the man was. Today the Doctor Who Showrunners job is not only to make the series, but to make it truly a media event, to become an ambassador and a personality for it, to address the fans in magazines and to keep them personally in touch with new series developments. JNT got there first. Today, the Doctor must be young, dynamic and good looking to appeal to more demographics; JNT got there first. Today, returning cameos and continuity are required for an audience wanting to re-watch and follow along; JNT got there first. Today, it's acceptable for a celebrity or singer to be cast in the series and given the chance to develop into a television actor; JNT did all this first too. Remember how weird it seemed when he mooted bringing Leela back for "Logopolis"? Today we don't bat an eyelid when old companions make return appearances.

    Above all, he gave himself to the show. When "Greatest Show" was cancelled, and JNT was told it was dead, he personally saved the story by calling in favours, ringing round, and arranging to film it in a car park! He roped in foreign money and made the 20th Anniversary Special spectacular. And if you slate the Sylvester McCoy era, bear in mind that if JNT hadn't personally orchestrated the press backlash against Doctor Who's cancellation in 1985, it might have ended then and there, and gone the way of "The Hot Shoe Show" and "Crackerjack".

    It really sadens me that he isn't around today to see how many of his decisions (many of them ridiculed at the time) have been ressurected today. He was the epitomy of "things come around", but he's not around to enjoy his triumph. His contemporaries spitefully have their say on his failures, and he's not here to re-address the balance.

    If it was up to me, I'd make the audio reading of his autobiography compulsory! On it, he comes over as an honest, wise but humble man who doesn't, unlike some of his colleagues, use the opportunity for point scoring. He admits when he got certain things, like the Sixth Doctor costume, wrong, and knows he wasn't perfect. Occasionally, he musters the odd dig in the most subtle, hilarious way that it's a highlight of the listening experience. But he just comes over as a flamboyant man who did his best and did EVERYTHING for the show during the eighties, a decade it did well to see the end of, and probably wouldn't have without his guidance.

    Have we ever misjudged anyone as much as JNT?

    Si.

  3. #3
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    Si has absolutely hit the nail on the head, and there's only one thing I would like to add about JNT...

    Love him or loathe him and/or his era, you can't deny that he truly loved Doctor Who. I mean, this is the man who desperately wanted to go and do something else. But everytime he tried to leave, the BBC threatened to cancel the show. And so he stayed. Until they finally cancelled it anyway. Gosh, sounds like an abusive relationship, there!

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Si Hunt View Post
    I think time has vindicated him in an astonishing way.

    He really got it in the neck while he was in charge didn't he? Fans would campaign for him to lose his job, he got so much flack. Yet you look at the time when he was in charge and you see ten years of wildly versatile and interesting stories. Okay, everyone has those they hate but only the truly ignorant and hard to please couldn't find something to love there, from the mystical symbolism of "Snakedance" to the creepy intellectualism of "Ghost Light" to the monster-fests of "Attack of the Cybermen" and "Ressurection of the Daleks". Then there were the classics - "The Five Doctors", "The Caves of Androzani", "Remembrance of the Daleks", "Kinda", "Logopolis", "Earthshock", "Revelation of the Daleks", "The Curse of Fenric", "Greatest Show".

    He gave the show international appeal by creating American and Australian companions, increasing the show's appeal around the world; he attracted much criticism for his convention jaunts, but he ensured the shows stars promoted it all over the place. He made a hell of a lot on a small budget - a few, but not very many, of the eighties shows look really cheap and when they do it's usually because there is an "Alien on a shoestring" blockbuster nearby.

    But most of all I'm struck with how forward thinking the man was. Today the Doctor Who Showrunners job is not only to make the series, but to make it truly a media event, to become an ambassador and a personality for it, to address the fans in magazines and to keep them personally in touch with new series developments. JNT got there first. Today, the Doctor must be young, dynamic and good looking to appeal to more demographics; JNT got there first. Today, returning cameos and continuity are required for an audience wanting to re-watch and follow along; JNT got there first. Today, it's acceptable for a celebrity or singer to be cast in the series and given the chance to develop into a television actor; JNT did all this first too. Remember how weird it seemed when he mooted bringing Leela back for "Logopolis"? Today we don't bat an eyelid when old companions make return appearances.

    Above all, he gave himself to the show. When "Greatest Show" was cancelled, and JNT was told it was dead, he personally saved the story by calling in favours, ringing round, and arranging to film it in a car park! He roped in foreign money and made the 20th Anniversary Special spectacular. And if you slate the Sylvester McCoy era, bear in mind that if JNT hadn't personally orchestrated the press backlash against Doctor Who's cancellation in 1985, it might have ended then and there, and gone the way of "The Hot Shoe Show" and "Crackerjack".

    It really sadens me that he isn't around today to see how many of his decisions (many of them ridiculed at the time) have been ressurected today. He was the epitomy of "things come around", but he's not around to enjoy his triumph. His contemporaries spitefully have their say on his failures, and he's not here to re-address the balance.

    If it was up to me, I'd make the audio reading of his autobiography compulsory! On it, he comes over as an honest, wise but humble man who doesn't, unlike some of his colleagues, use the opportunity for point scoring. He admits when he got certain things, like the Sixth Doctor costume, wrong, and knows he wasn't perfect. Occasionally, he musters the odd dig in the most subtle, hilarious way that it's a highlight of the listening experience. But he just comes over as a flamboyant man who did his best and did EVERYTHING for the show during the eighties, a decade it did well to see the end of, and probably wouldn't have without his guidance.

    Have we ever misjudged anyone as much as JNT?

    Si.

    I couldn't have put it better myself.
    I think he got far too much stick from the public and the media during the 80's (I remember being annoyed about it at the time; I always loved 80's Who and so was, and still am, very defensive of it - well apart from 'Battlefield' obviously)!
    The man was an ambassador for the show during the 1990s - there's some kind of input from JNT on nearly everything thing that was produced after the show was cancelled in 1989 - whether that be video's, books, CDs - his name crops up everywhere.
    Like Si I wish JNT was still around today to see the RTD and SM years and beyond!
    Mind you I think part of him would be upset at the big budget the show gets today; I think I recall seeing him saying, at the preview of the TVM that he wished he'd had that kind of money to spend on the show.

    I think JNT is my favourite producer of the show so far (although I think Philip Hinchcliffe, Barry Letts and Verity Lambert are all 'up there' with him as the best ones)

  5. #5
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    He was always there, wasn't he? Throughout the 80s I was always aware of him, from the interview in DWM 51 to the photo calls for new Doctors, companions, pantos... through the interviews, the catchphrases- never before had we had so much access to the man behind the show. He was always so recognisable- big curly hair, Hawaiian shirt, slightly camp voice and manner.

    I met him in 1989 at the DWM 10th Anniversary signing. He was really friendly and approachable, even in those dark days when fandom was most against him. I didn't say much except that it was a pleasure to meet him and he grinned and signed my TARDIS Inside Out for me (he was delighted to see his book!).

    Shamefully I jumped on the bandwagon of people who slagged him off at the time, but I didn't know what he was doing behind the scenes- clinging onto the show to keep it alive when he could have jumped ship and let it go. I think he had a complex relationship with the show, and definitely had a complex relationship with the fan. Who knows what he thought of the sniping attacks, the viscious gossip, the campaigns against him. I'd have crumbled and fled if it was me.

    And look at the Who he produced. All the way through there's good and bad, but there's no doubting that right from the start he came in with a strong approach on the visual side of things. I think he loved that bit most of all- working with the stars, the costumes- the glitzy bit. But he was responsible for some great stuff- from the visually arresting start on Argolis through to The Planet of the Cheetah People, he helped guide the show through the decade, even if he was happy to let his script editors control the script side, there was still the infamous blue pen of JNT- saying no to Lungbarrow, pushing for monsters and visuals in the Cartmel stories and stuff like that.

    I've always felt his presence on the DVDs is really missed. he'd have been great on the commentaries. We really missed out there

    And like the others, 80s Who was my era. he was my era.

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  6. #6
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    Of course, what says a lot about JNT was just how willing he always was to come back to the show, even after it finished. He came back four years later for Dimensions in Time. He never seemed to shy away from interviews or events after the show finished. He was a true champion.

    And I'm sure he'd have jumped at the chance to be involved in the TV Movie if offered, or in the 2005 revival, had he been around and RTD offered (lots of ifs there!)

    It seems to me that he was the first producer who truly loved the show and its legacy, and he set the standard for all future executive producers.

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  7. #7
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    Si really has nailed it with his great post - I've often thought how different it might have been, if the BBC had supported & loved the show in the 80s and backed JN-T. I'm certain he would have loved the opportunity for a Christmas special, or a Doctor Who Confidential.

    It's just such a shame he never got to see the show relaunch in the 21st Century - and such a shame that he didn't really live to see his era properly revisited. One of the most important voices in Who taken sadly far too early.

  8. #8
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    Just to echo what's already been said that it seems so sad that JN-T hasn't been able to see everything that's happened over the last decade.
    I was just taking my first baby steps into proper fandom 10 years ago this month and I can remember how sad this news was to me, just as someone who could remember seeing the name John Nathan-Turner at the end of the credits every week when I was a child. With the hindsight of a decade in fandom the sadness certainly hasn't lessened.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    I've always felt his presence on the DVDs is really missed. he'd have been great on the commentaries. We really missed out there
    .

    agreed, as I've said before it really angers me when watching the dvd extras and listening to Eric Saward, constantly putting the blame for all Doctor Who's problems firmly at the door of JNT. It's all so easy for people like Saward Bidmead and some sections of fandom to blame a man who's been dead for 10 years and it's very sad that JNT isn't still around to answer his critics. Can't really add any more than what's already been said JNT, made mistakes and produced some awful stuff but what Who producer hasn't . What you can't fault is JNT's genuine love for the show he continued to produce it on a non existant budget and a BBC, who hated it and wanted rid of the programm. Also it's because of him agreeing to stay on as producer that Doctor Who lasted as long as it did if he'd left when he wanted to then Doctor Who would IMO almost certainly would of ended for good after season 22.

  10. #10
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    I can't really add anything to what's already been said - I agree whole-heartedly.

    It's very easy to become rose-tinted in one's opinion of someone after they've passed, but J-NT REALLY was treated very harshly and undeservedly for the very most part of it.

    I think he was probably the biggest ambassador the show ever had and for that he should be applauded. It's awful when anyone dies, for obvoius reasons, but it's really desperately sad that he's not here now to see that what we all thought would never happen has happened beyond anyone's expectations.

    He would have LOVED it!

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    If he were still alive, it would certainly be interesting to see how many Saward-era stories he'd have contributed DVD commentary to, and what he'd have said about Eric. Whatever you think of him, he deserves the right of reply after all his carping.

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    Somehow, I've always got the feeling that he would've been a bit more dignified about their time working together than dear Eric has been. Alas, we shall never know.

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    I would've much preferred the Trials and Tribulations documentary if it had a more balanced view of the events of the Colin era. JN-T himself admitted there were mistakes made but I still don't think the contributions of Saward and Levine on that documentary shouldn't have been presented as such as vitriolic hatchet job against Colin and JN-T. I was so angered when I watched it that sadly I don't think I can risk allowing myself to do so again.
    Thankfully a much more balanced picture was presented on the Come in Number Five documentary on last year's Resurrection Special Edition. As I've said before the Davison casting really was JN-T's master stroke.

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    I don't think Come In Number 5 was particularly balanced really. Davison, Bidmead and Saward were all at the JN-T bashing throughout it.

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    I might be getting confused with something else I saw more recently on one of the season 19 releases? Appropriately enough a case of "the memory cheats"

    At least it wasn't anything like as negative a documentary as "Trials" was.

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