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Classic Radio Times Letters - The Doomwatch Debate

Quite clearly Terence Dudley, producer of Doomwatch (BBC1), aims to defend the present series at all costs (LETTERS 22nd June). Suspense plots were the least important angle of the approach of Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis.
In a nutshell, the originals seemed logical extensions of present scientific short-sightedness; the present series depends on a TV-orientated, criminal approach to catch the attention of the viewer. (Student theft of plutonium, for instance.)
Mr Dudley's biased re-collections exhibit his shallow-mindedness. The fact that a plastic-eating virus may not exist is quite irrelevant. The episode in question focused clearly of non-biodegradable plastics and loose laboratory security. The Hastings atom bomb was merely an extension of an actual event concerning the USA and Spain, where the bomb fell.
Suspense indeed! Doubtless Mr Dudley would recommend the 'Hallelujah Chorus' as a will-they-ever-sing-it-for-the-last-time suspense plot.
More seriously : I am a physics teacher, and I could quite confidently have recommended my pupils to the early series as an almost essential part of their education. The present cannot be recommended to any scientist, budding or otherwise. I suppose it is suitable as standard suspense fodder for the fashionably pollution-conscious.
M. H. Shaw
Buntingford,
Hertfordshire

I bet that after watching 'Waiting for a Knighthood' (26 June, BBC1) the critics of Doomwatch are still smarting from the smack in the eye. Terence Dudley's script and production were a stroke of brilliance, accounting for Ridge's ‘madness’ and incorporating him perhaps in a later series. It also begins to serialise Doomwatch, which is what the first series should have done.
Congratulations to the whole Doomwatch team. I hope the remainder of the episodes are just as well written, acted, and realistic as the first three.
Robin Haselgrove (aged 17)
Oldham, Lancashire

Who do you think you are kidding? Recently (LETTERS. 22nd June) you assured us that John Ridge was to make a surprise re-appearance in Doomwatch. But for one episode? It’s hardly my idea of a dramatic re-emergence.
Lately it seems that, although Quist has been granted the freedom to employ whom he pleases, he has been denied permission to reinstate Ridge by his comparatively amateurish successor, Stafford.
To make matters worse, the Minister who apparently resents Doomwatch and all that it stands for, has practically taken over from Quist himself!
This sad mess is all a far cry from the forceful and brilliant second series, which kept me intrigued throughout. Quist should turn his attention towards saving Doomwatch from extinction, and then . . . the world?
David Muir
Orkney Isles

Three cheers for Doomwatch. After early lifeless, toothless, programmes Doomwatch has returned with a real bite. One can only wish that all ministers, doctors, and teachers could have seen ‘Without the Bomb’ (3 July).
Doomwatch has started once again to give a believable if fictional view of our future - or perhaps lack of future.
B. A. Crompton
Birmingham

TERENCE DUDLEY, Producer,
‘ Doomwatch,’ replies:
Mr Shaw commands my deep respect: my memory couldn’t possibly span well over two years in such detail. But he really can’t have it both ways. If a non-existent plastic-eating virus is ‘quite irrelevant’ surely he diminishes the ‘extension of an actual event’ with an atomic bomb? And not all scientists are short-sighted: certainly not the 24 of different disciplines who have contributed to the current series.
Ridge makes a number of surprise appearances. He is persona non grata at Doomwatch for the reason of emotional instability clearly characterised from the very first. Stafford would never resort to the burglarious activities of Ridge in Series 1 and 2. The Minister is committed to the survival of Doomwatch: as a clever politician he seeks to contain the unpredictable, unconventional Quist in the common interest.

From the Letters page of the Radio Times - 22-28 July 1972. With thanks to John Archbold

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