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The Radio Times Letters page June 22 1972

‘Doomwatch’: is it as good as it was?

I FELT I HAD T0 COMMENT on the Fire and Brimstone episode of Doomwatch (5 June, BBC1) especially after the fuss in the newspapers by the creators. The story was of a man, Dr John Ridge, usually carefree and very confident, who obviously
cared about the insanity of a world killing itself.
After years of talking to people who just did not care or were indifferent, he became so frustrated that he was driven into drastic action, hoping to
draw the attention of ‘governments and people alike to what they were doing
to their children and grandchildren’s future.
I think the story was good, the acting excellent - especially by Simon Oates as Dr Ridge - and I am sure it made its point with a lot more impact than any documentary could have done. Will Simon Oates ever return to Doomwatch?
(Miss) J. I. Curry

‘Sensationalist format’

Although it may not be necessary after the already mounting criticism of Doomwatch, I feel I must protest strongly against the way in which this previously excellent drama series has been mutilated. The news that Dr Kit Pedler and Mr Gerry Davis are leaving the series and otherwise dissociating themselves from it comes as no surprise to me. To quote Dr Pedler: ‘They have made a total travesty of the programme... We were absolutely horrified by last night's opening episode. It was no better than standard Bondish spy-thriller fare.’
Why has the BBC chosen to adopt this cheap, sensationalist format, when the series was perfectly successful at the outset?
I am sure that the vast majority of Doomwatch fans cannot tolerate another 12 programmes of the quality displayed in the opening episode.
M. Dennerly
Denton, Lancashire

Welcome back

I am very pleased in seeing the return of the excellent programme Doomwatch. I hope that this series will be just as good as the previous one.
Surely people can no longer remain complacent about the dangers we are facing in the world today and realise that something must be done soon.
(Miss) P. Richards

Missed opportunity

It is no surprise to read that Dr Kit Pedler and Mr Gerry Davis have asked for their names to be removed from the credits of the present series of Doomwatch and that they are severing all connection with the BBC.
On the opening day of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, here was a golden opportunity for a series of proven success to bring home to the public some ecological facts in an attractive, easily-assimilated form.
It is difficult to understand how Mr Terence Dudley can have produced the original series without absorbing the essence of the idea behind it.
Fire and Brimstone was not only poor value even as a thriller, but coming under the same title and publicity build-up as the original programmes can only encourage viewers to believe that concern for the environment is just the latest fad of hysterical scientists instead of a matter of potential popular interest for every member of the human race.
E. Marshall

Bring back Ridge!

No! You can’t do this to me! I won’t sit still for it!
You killed off Toby Wren - now you write off John Ridge. It‘s just not fair!
Or am I condemning you too soon?
I was looking forward, with delighted anticipation, to another Doomwatch series -but what will it be without John?
Please, please, you can’t leave us like this. Bring back Ridge - or give us an
unanswerable reason why.
T. Beckett
Wheldrake, Yorkshire

TERENCE DUDLEY, Producer, ‘ Doomwatch,’ replies:

I think Miss Curry says it all. Her reception of Fire and Brimstone was what was hoped for.
Perhaps I may point out to Mr Dennerly and Mr Marshall that Dr Pedler and Mr Davis wrote the first and the last stories of the first series. The first, The Plastic Eaters, was about a plastic-eating virus that doesn’t exist: it was a will-the-infected-plane-land-in time suspense plot. The last, Survival Code, was about on atomic bomb washed up on Hastings pier and was a will-the bomb-go-off suspense plot.
Fire and Brimstone was quite in key with these. The rest of the series will confirm the intention of the original format.
I think, too, that it is important to remember that the programmes prime intention is to entertain.
Other correspondents will be pleased to know that John Ridge is not out of the series: he makes a surprise return in this week’s episode.

With thanks to John Archbold

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