Christopher H. Bidmead
|Christopher H. Bidmead|
|Born||11 June 1927|
On Doctor Who
|Years Active||1980 - 1983|
|Style||The Hardest SF|
|Best Episode||The Hollows of Time|
JNT (and Barry Letts, who'd come back for one season to "executive produce" the transition to JNT) wanted the show to be less silly and less monster-of-the-week focused, and he loved Bidmead's idea of doing that by focusing on real serious science fiction, and teaching the kids about entropy. But then he immediately began complaining that the stories were too sciency. To be fair to JNT, the ratings did fall to 170th place, the worst in the show's history by far, but that's clearly only because of Adric, whose second episode was the lowest-rating episode the show ever had.
Saward kept trying to get him to come back and write new stories. He wrote one, which JNT loved so much that he kept asking Saward to commission sequels from Bidmead and then cancelling those sequels. The only one he didn't cancel ended up as part of the Lost Season and got canceled anyway, although at least that one eventually got Big Finished (and was the best of the original Lost Season audios).
Bidmead also did a treatment for a Dalek story, which also got canceled, but ended up being fleshed out by an anonymous writer for another Big Finish audio (and was sort of decent). But the director of the ear story had this to say about how shit the script was:
> The script though! And Christopher Bidmead taking his name off it. What happened there then? Well, the final version of Chris's script was about half-an-hour too long, had twice as many characters and, to be honest, really didn't making much sense. Nick Briggs made the only sensible decision which was to cut the script down and to eliminate or combine many of the characters. Nick did all the actual writing but much of what he did came out of many long discussions between him and myself. As well as addressing the practical issues, we wanted to make some sense out of the story. In Chris's version there was - astonishingly - seemingly no connection between the production of the toy Daleks on Earth and the invasion being planned by the Greylish. So, a priority was to connect the two in a credible way. Also the original ending made absolutely no sense. In it, the TARDIS was broken up, in the same way that it was in 'Frontios' (a story, by-the-way, that Chris had Nyssa remembering even though she had left the TARDIS by that point). The destruction of the TARDIS somehow foiled the Dalek invasion attempt, but it wasn't at all clear how or why it had done this. So, Nick and I decided we had to create a completely new ending. After much head scratching, I came up with the idea of using the HADS to break the Daleks' control over the TARDIS, giving the Doctor only seconds to jettison the bomb.
>I think there were lots of other minor changes, but these were the big ones. Despite Nick's rewriting of the script, I would say that, apart from the climax, the story was still essentially what Chris had written - including the 'Three blind mice' sequence, which I really didn't like.
>We sent the revised script to Chris and, as far as I remember, he read no further than the first half of episode one. Seeing that changes had been made he asked for his name to be taken off it. A disappointing reaction, especially when one learns how much he tampered with other people's scripts when he was script editor on the TV series.
>The trouble with trying to repair a poor script is that you can never be entirely successful. Listeners will still criticise it and some might think that rewriting by hands other than the author's own may have made things worse not better. I think that might be true in some instances, but not in this particular case. Even if it had been possible to produce the original Bidmead version of the script (which would have meant releasing it on three CDs and with a large cast beyond the production's budget) I doubt many would have been happy with a story that defied all logic and had an unsatisfactory, non-sensical ending.
In interviews, he pretty much turns out to be the Doctor in real life. Aside from demonstrating quite a bit of knowledge of what is considered legitimate physics by the standards of whatever time he's being interviewed (I guess he catches up with National Geographic or something), he also says things that only the Doctor would say. In one instance, he told an interview, "this is a very good interview by the way; you're asking me all the right questions, and I'm giving you brilliant answers!"
Make this guy the showruiner. Maybe he'll make it respectable science fiction again.