Brendan Moody wrote:
Well, when it comes to commissioning decisions budget and ratings are two sides of the same coin; the question is (among other things) whether enough people are watching Doctor Who to justify the money spent on it.
For American shows I would agree, but there are other factors involved with British shows. Budgets are going to grow and/or shrink according a number of factors. And like the original series it might also fall out of favor for political reasons.
That's it in a nutshell.
I mean, Doctor Who didn't get cancelled in 1985 just because Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell had taken over as Controller-BBC1 and Head of Drama, and both hated it (though that didn't help).
The biggest cause was that the BBC was launching EastEnders, and the money for that had to come out of that year's drama department budget. Eastenders made sense financially, as once it was up-and-running it would be cheap (standing sets, contemporary clothes, cast of unknowns who can be replaced with other unknowns), delivering 52 hours of drama a year for the cost of maybe 26 (that's a made-up figure, but it's in the ballpark). But in its first year, when they had to build the Albert Square set, it'd cost 75 hours worth (again, that's a demo figure). And that had to come out of the 1985 drama department budget, meaning that the equivelent of five 'normal' series had to be dropped that year (or however many).
Doctor Who wasn't the only show that was cancelled or took a gap year around then - Tenko ended (because it reached the end of the war, but that could have been held back for a fourth season), and Bergerac only ran one season between spring 84 and Christmas 86.
If the BBC ever had a another big set up (like Doctor Who in 2004!), then something else would have to give, and it might be Who if it was floundering and out of fashion. As it is, I do wonder whether the costs of rebuilding the Albert Square set for HD last year contributed to the cost cuts that led to the makers of Spooks, Waking the Dead and Hustle deciding to call it a day...