Doctor Who debated in the House of Lords

Posted Nov 28, 2013 by Mathew Wace Peck
Following the world-wide record-breaking success of "Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor" last weekend, members of the UK House of Lords have paid tribute to the BBC's 50-year-old TV sci-fi drama series.
The Day of the Doctor: Matt Smith  David Tennant  John Hurt
The Day of the Doctor: Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt
BBC / Doctor Who
The tributes were made by a number of peers taking part in the debate, "That this House takes note of the contribution of broadcast media to the United Kingdom economy," which had been moved by Liberal Democrat Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury.
Some of the quotes follow below, and the full transcript of the debate can be found on Hansard.
First to mention Doctor Who was Baroness Grender. Using her maiden speech in the Lords to do so, she said:
This debate necessarily starts with the record we have in public service broadcasting, of which the cornerstone is the BBC. BBC Worldwide is the largest TV programme distributor outside the major US studios, and its impact on the reputation of the United Kingdom overseas is one which increases our ability to trade worldwide and way beyond broadcasting. My noble friend Lady Bonham-Carter’s timing for this debate is perfect, following the amazing weekend marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Simulcast in 94 countries, setting a Guinness world record, with record-breaking figures in America, it was event TV drama at its best, delivered around the globe. That thrill of seeing all the Doctors saving Gallifrey is something my eight year-old son will remember until the 100th anniversary.
Another Liberal Democrat peer, in highlighting the BBC's investment in Wales, where the science-fiction series has been based since 2003, also singled out Doctor Who. Baroness Humphreys, who is the President of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
Programmes such as Doctor Who, Merlin and Sherlock and many others have been produced in Cardiff over a number of years but they are now produced in the BBC’s new drama facility in the recently built drama village at Roath Lock in the Porth Teigr, or Tiger Bay, area of Cardiff Bay. The drama studios there are the length of three football pitches, and more than 600 actors, camera operators and technicians are employed there — all, of course, contributing to the local economy.
Lord Birt — himself a former Director-General and, before that, Deputy Director-General, of the BBC — added:
Our comic, eccentric and very British superhero, Doctor Who, who rightly has been much mentioned today, reached 50 last Saturday with a near-simultaneous broadcast in 94 different countries, as the noble Baroness, Lady Grender, mentioned. Nothing like that has ever happened before.
Two other peers who singled out Doctor Who for praise were Lord Gardiner of Kimble and Baroness Bonham-Carter herself.
Lord Gardiner said, "Your Lordships have already mentioned Doctor Who. Its 50th anniversary special has just had a record-breaking global simultaneous broadcast — I am informed by officials that it is called a simulcast — that reached 94 countries across all the continents."
Baroness Bonham-Carter closed the debate, directing a question at Lord Grade — Michael Grade — who, as Controller of BBC One, was the person responsible for putting Doctor Who on an 18-month hiatus in 1984, sacking Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in 1986 and then cancelling the show entirely in 1989. Baroness Bonham-Carter said:
Finally, as Doctor Who has dominated the debate and I see my noble friend Lord Grade in his seat, I cannot resist wondering whether, had he known that Sylvester McCoy would regenerate into John Hurt, he would still have cancelled the programme?
Apparently, the former BBC executive remains unrepentant: "Lord Grade nodded to indicate indeed he would," reports Doctor Who News.