Great series that should have run for much longer.,
This review is from: Dear John - Complete Collection - Series 1 & 2 Plus The Christmas Special [DVD] (DVD)
John Sullivan's writing was at its best in the 80s and Dear John is right up there, with his other great series Only Fools and Horses and Just Good Friends, as one of the very best situation comedies of not just the 80s but of all time.
Dear John really is a great series, with a great range of characters; there's genuine warmth and care in the series' developing relationships, as well as some tortuously agonising moments for some characters. It's a series that should have run and run - so why didn't it?
The lead actor, Ralph Bates, did develop cancer, but that was a good couple of years after the last episode was broadcast.
The real reason for the show's demise lies in interference from the highest level, a salutary reminder of the (careless) effects of ideological decision-making: following a series of run-ins with BBC management, the Thatcher government finally imposed change on the corporation in 1987. The Director General was sacked and accountants, rather than 'creatives', were given control of how spending, including programme spending, was apportioned - with greater emphasis being placed on cheap factual content, news and current affairs.
With less money to spend on traditional entertainment, BBC executives focused on the prestigious and 'big-hitters', as well as some new projects. Unfortunately, having not established itself as a big-hitter (unlike, say, Only Fools and Horses), Dear John was tossed aside. There was never an official announcement that the show would not be continuing, though, and Ralph Bates died in March 1991 still thinking that it might return.