6th Doctor Colin Baker was recently interviewed in Doctor Who Magazine. There had been some controversy over it on Twitter. He’s made a statement on his website on the matter. I’ve pasted it below to amplify it / just in case anyone needs to link it directly.
Colin has done so much for the fans and has tirelessly stood up for the creatives in the industry. He isn’t afraid to speak out when necessary and that’s one of the reasons us here at (Re)Generation Who HQ love him so much.
Kindness is important.
STATEMENT FROM COLIN RE: DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE 27.07.15
THE FOLLOWING IS A STATEMENT FROM COLIN:
I am on the cover of the latest Doctor Who magazine because after several years of declining to be interviewed by them, I was persuaded by Big Finish that it would help them if I overcame my reluctance and did an interview. I owe so much to Big Finish for providing me with the opportunity to drag old Sixie from the mire of the 80’s where he was firmly embedded in some viewers’ minds into the audio sunlight of the Doctor Who range they produce. Suddenly great scripts, great love for the show, great directors and producers combined to breathe life into the corpse of the Sixth incarnation beyond ‘carrot juice’, the ending I had been given before we knew that it would be precisely that – an ending.
My long reluctance to talk to DWM was based solely on the fact that the magazine has persisted for years in having polls and then publishing the results in full. Not just the name of the favourite doctor or companion (as if that was worthy of noting anyway) but details of who came lower in the ‘who’s best’ listing – all the way down to least favourite.I have never been that sure about the need to do this, felt by some people, but had never realised until I was a part of it myself quite how dispiriting it can be to the less loved. When you are at the bottom of the list with the wonderful William Hartnell – whom most of those who voted had probably never seen – trust me – you feel a tad gutted. We are supposed to shrug and to move on; to pretend we haven’t seen it; to pretend we don’t care; to affect a lofty indifference. I have always found it difficult to do that. When I was told my services as the Doctor were no longer required, I was offered the chance to give an anodyne reason for my departure. I preferred to tell the truth. I have always found that easier in the long run, if not the short.
So when it happened to me again with that list of the popularity of the 200 stories to date and Peter’s last story was voted the most popular ever and my first story languished forlornly below the other 198, how could it fail to be like an hammer blow to anyone involved with that story. Could we not perhaps have just listed the top ten favourites? That would have hurt less, as my complete absence from that list would have at least been shared with the actors, writers and crew of the other 190. Once I had realised the potential for hurt in these lists, I constantly noticed the wounds inflicted on other creative people and hated it.
Anyway, when Big Finish told me that my re-generation episode’s release would be greatly aided by some coverage in DWM and that Nick Briggs had been asked to interview me for the magazine and that my exact words would be quoted, I eventually consented. I have known Nick for centuries it seems. He is as honest as the day is 24 hours long, we share a sense of fun and he is talented, clear thinking and a good man as well as being a superb writer. I warned them that I would talk about my quite strongly held views about their polls.
So wind forward a few weeks. My copy of the magazine containing my interview arrives. I read it and it does indeed reflect what I said exactly. No complaints. Nice picture on the front. Nice editorial.
I then started to read the rest of the magazine. I turn over four pages and see the DWM 2014 Season Survey. Favourite Story – listed from 1 down to 12. How can the writer of that story believe other than that the fans considered his story – the only one he wrote for that season – not as good as all the others? The same writer is also last in the Best Writer’s Poll with 1% of the vote – the winner getting 56% – lovely for him, but really unkind to the No 8! Best Director? There are six of them and one – with 1% is last. How is she supposed to feel? Why, oh why, does DWM feel the need to publish that. If they really like these polls why not tell us who came out on top without exposing those who did markedly less well to the ignominy of a negligible vote.
Lists that don’t identify individual human beings as least best are less pernicious. When it’s people who might be hurt – just name the one with the most votes. Open ended ones are less hurtful – like when ‘Others’ are given 30% for instance.
But DWM please remember that there are people reading these who may not wish to learn how unloved they are!
And then there is the twitter storm I have unleashed by trying in 140 words to make this point.
Because the original aversion to elements of these polls was started by my own low standing in the favourite Doctor list, many kind followers on Twitter are telling me they love me and say nice things about my Doctor. Grateful though I am of course for such kind outpourings, it was truly not why I tweeted my sadness and disappointment with DWM. It’s not about me and Old Sixie any more.
It seemed to me to be disingenuous at best to pretend that the juxtaposition of my very long interview (when I explained my dislike of the polls) and the 2014 season poll might be coincidental. Might a thoughtful editor have seen the potential for that being misread if it truly was a coincidence. My first thought from the Baker bunker was that I was being put in my place. ‘Don’t like polls eh? No pensioned off Doctor is going to tell us what to put in our magazine!’ While that may indeed be DWM’s right, it might have been more tactful in the circumstances to delay either the poll or my interview?
Various reactions on Twitter of course. One even accusing me of double standards because I appeared on I’m a Celebrity where the public vote leads to eviction – and suggesting that my lofty anti-poll standards were compromised in order to get paid. I struggled to understand that one – after all that is the point of that particular programme.
The editor responsible for publishing the poll and interview together asked me on Twitter to stop airing my views in public and talk to him privately – as if that would change anything. If he wants to say that the juxtaposition was coincidental – why not say so publicly? I like openness.
But to reiterate.
It’s not about me. I am heartened that people want to reassure me that Old Sixie is loved but I really do care about the new wounds being inflicted on today’s professionals by a magazine that should be protecting them. I am prepared to accept that they may be collateral and not intended victims, but now it is clear – or should be – that seeing in print that only 1% voted for you might just perhaps be less than pleasant and therefore worthy of a different presentation.
I guess I’m asking for the usual journalistic standards be nudged in the direction of kindness for a magazine whose sole purpose is to celebrate a television programme with those who watch it.