This week Whovian Leap reflects on the recent Private Eye rumours and revelations.
“Events, my dear boy, events” supposedly replied former prime minister Harold Macmillan when asked about what was likely to blow a government off course. Does this famous quote apply to Doctor Who after this week’s Private Eye “No full series in 2016” revelation?
In all likelihood the BBC and Doctor Who production team have been carefully stage managing the Series 9 launch for many months now, but have been caught off guard. They certainly weren’t expecting popular satirical magazine Private Eye to release sensitive information regarding the show’s future ahead of schedule, distracting attention away from the upcoming Series 9. We can only assume that the BBC had intended to make a “no full series in 2016” announcement once the new series had aired.
The BBC did reply to Digital Spy: “It is too early to confirm the schedule of future series at this point, but the new series starts on Saturday, September 19” Is it really too early? We know from Sony emails leaked by Wikileaks that the BBC has an eight year plan for Doctor Who, but their response to Digital Spy reveals nothing. Understandably they want all current Doctor Who news to be on-message, that is Series 9 related.
BBC bosses and the Doctor Who production team haven’t always seen eye to eye. According to Wikileaks, Steven Moffat refused to allow the making of a Doctor Who film against the wishes of his superiors. It may be well that heated discussions are still underway regarding the future of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Steven Moffat’s writing commitments in general. Perhaps final decisions are not yet set in stone, hence the corporation’s reluctance to make any official announcement on Doctor Who in 2016. Besides the BBC is not obliged to reveal future plans for any of their shows, though some might disagree and argue that as TV licence payers we are the BBC’s paymasters and have the right to know.
Many fans would be happier if the BBC came clean and stated that the long term future of Doctor Who is safe, but some years will inevitably be Who-lite, due to budgetary and production constraints. Fans might then feel reassured, get used to and then finally accept the idea.
On the other hand, should Doctor Who production and scheduling ever be predictable? Gossip, speculation, rumours and bombshells can only generate excitement among fans and publicity for the show. So maybe the BBC is wise to keep schtum. Silence should fall.
It is also a wholly valid argument that Capaldi, Coleman and Moffat deserve a break after a punishing production schedule. They should be allowed go off and spread their creative wings elsewhere. They would then come back to the show refreshed and are more likely to stay on board in the long term.
Some observe that American TV companies pump out a breathtaking amount of episodes per year and question why this does not also happen in the UK. With a larger production team, more writers and more Doctor-lite episodes surely this is possible. After all, Doctor Who is a money-spinner for the Beeb and in these hard times any extra pennies in the coffers are more than welcome.
If there is indeed no full series in 2016, let us consider the options. Do we want a split season? 2012 was a poor year for Whovians with a mere five new episodes one sorry September, plus a Christmas episode. Or do we prefer the 2009 model with “Specials” interspersed throughout the year. I favour the latter option. One hour event episodes would set fans and casual viewers alight with excitement. Imagine the mouth-watering wait, the speculation beforehand and the actual savouring of the episode when it finally arrives, followed by much discussion and analysis afterwards. What about seasonal Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Specials? Event episodes always enjoy high ratings, especially with the BBC’s publicity machine in full swing.
We must remember that the decision is not ours. We may kick up a fuss, but we are mere spectators, with no rights or entitlement. Being a fan is like being on a rollercoaster with all its ups and downs. Maybe we should just enjoy the ride and not worry about the future. Who knows, it might even be a sweet 2016 after all!