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Doctor Who Thread of Space and Time: Discussing New Year's Special "Resolution"


That’s what I was thinking. X-Mas Day ratings have been falling for years. Are we being too traditional in our views and Chibnall and the BBC are seeing trends? Like the Sunday shift the thinking was it was a step down but delivered much better than the Saturday ones for a decade or more.


They’re a disaster. The people in charge strike me as pretty silly people. You have this huge money generating hit, a global fanbase and the character has never been more popular. So you dick around with it over the last few years. Just like they did with Top Gear and Sherlock. The BBC show that they’re not as interested in market strength and revenue generation as they should be. I have my issues with how they’re funded (a flax tax on the poor is a shitty idea) and it seems that helps set the seed of internal mismanagement. I know the BBC is well loved, but it’s worth pointing out that they’re a bit shit too.


I think they are in a difficult position, not just due to their funding model but also due to the political pressures they are under (a lot of talent has walked away recently because the BBC are under pressure to pay less than the going rate for top-tier presenters, who then obviously sign up with commercial rivals who can pay a lot more. It’s almost as though other commercial media have a vested interest in running stories that pressure the BBC into limiting their spending!)

Anyway, back on topic, yes I agree that for various reasons the BBC can’t move with the agility of a more commercially-driven broadcaster, and it means that shows like Doctor Who aren’t treated as they would be by another more commercially-minded owner. So many gap years and scheduling shenanigans is a bit of a disappointment for dedicated fans, and can make it feel like the show is being treated poorly and not made the most of.

That said, I think they’ve been good custodians of the show in other ways in recent years, and it’s possible that Doctor Who would lose something if it was more ruthlessly exploited as a valuable IP.


Top Gear has actually performed better internationally since Clarkson’s middle aged army left (and they had no choice but to sack him as he punched a man in the face, which is a sackable offence in every job outside the WWE).

I think that audience like the stunts and the ability to be rude about cars because they don’t take ads. The ‘little Englander’ Daily Mail stuff is popular at home and maybe the US but insulting Mexicans isn’t a great way to sell the show in many markets. Amazon spent $6m an episode on a show nobody talked about past the first few weeks.

Saying that I don’t really disagree with Jim. BBC Worldwide should have been pushing for at least an annual full series without delays. It’s partly bureaucracy and law to blame though because they aren’t allowed to directly fund a show that performs for them but rather just put it into a general pool. Either way the BBC management in the UK should cotton on to which shows will make that pool bigger for them. It’s frustrating at times but yeah an organisation specifically designed and decreed by law not to be commercial isn’t very good at the commerce bit.


We’re not talking about ruthless exploitation though.

A set number of episodes, every year, plus a Christmas special, is not ruthless anything. It’s a professional schedule followed by TV producers around the world (if they’re lucky enough to get a Christmas special).


I think you are conflating two things that I deliberately separated.

I agree that the scheduling stuff (gap years, moving timeslots) is a poor show and is something that the BBC shouldn’t let happen.

On the other hand, separately, I think the BBC’s control of the show protects it from some of the disadvantages that come with a more ruthless approach to exploiting a brand (not many shows have the longevity of Doctor Who, and that’s partly down to how the BBC have managed the show over the decades. Although I’m aware of the irony of saying that when they cancelled it for 16 years!).

There is a happy medium to be found, I think, where the BBC maintain custody of it and keep making good creative decisions that help to refresh it, but they couple that with a more competent approach to actually getting the show made.


I think Doctor Who has lost alot as is. It’s not the show it used to be, not the same kind of cultural touchpoint. Quality has gone down and the budget cuts have restricted scope of the series. To me they had lightning in a bottle (mostly built during the Tennant era) and now they’ve squandered it.

Have they? I find that pretty amazing. All I’ve seen are headlines about how the rating are tanking and it’s certainly no longer a show that gets much online buzz.

The Middle Aged army was the pull - a Last of the Summers Wine Pythonesque group being silly but clearly fond of each other and acting like cheeky schoolboys. I don’t think the odd bit of racism made much difference as most of the world has a thick enough skin to put up with a bit of ignorance now and again.

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They have tanked in the UK (well relatively, it never actually rated that well in the last few years anyway there) but at the same time Worldwide announced they’d sold to another 20 countries and revenue was sharply up. It will have to be seen if they can retain that without the presence of LeBlanc who is a face and name everyone knows globally due to Friends being played continuously on some channel somewhere.

The irony being of course the UK is the one territory it can’t make any money, they even forced Worldwide to sell off their magazine division that made Top Gear Monthly, they can still profit from the Malaysian edition which I can buy in the local newsagent though. When I view the BBC website there’s a massive CBR style background of a Korean Air ad.


The constant drip feed of low-grade bigotry, and the normalisation of it, isn’t a trivial thing; and the “you should just have thicker skin” argument is part of it as well.


Over the past few weeks I’ve more or less made my peace with the fact that, for me, it probably isn’t going to be the show it once was. I liked it a lot as a kid, enjoyed lots of bits of the RTD era (and thought Tennant was very good), and I really enjoyed the Moffat era (and thought that both Smith and Capaldi were brilliant).

On the strength of the first four Chibnall episodes it seems to be chugging along at a pretty decent average - not awful, but not great - and if it continues like that it will never reach the heights of the RTD and Moffat eras. Who knows, things might change.

But I’ve noticed that other people are really enjoying the new take, including my daughter who finds the show much easier to follow in general now than she did under Moffat. Others seem to be on board too, judging by the general reaction of friends and other parents that I know (both for themselves and their kids).

So I feel like I maybe need to accept that the show is moving into a new phase that works for other people better than it does for me - and it needs to do that, to regenerate when it becomes old and tired, and turn into something else, something new and different.

Or to put it another way:


I’m not quite sure how bigoted the Top gear crew were (all I remember are jokes about Truck Drivers and almost getting lynched in Deliverance USA). I couldn’t say how normalized the show made those kind of acts. I know the show wasn’t stopped because of how they acted, and all their behavior was clearly approved by the BBC as fit for international broadcast. Maybe we’re in an age now where how they acted would impact the success of the show, but for years it didn’t seem to slow them down.

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One thing I think is assured is that the show will change again in another few years. It’s a very clever structure in that it can change to whatever works for the current audience and they just hand wave it away with the new actor. I liked the Smith era best, but it’s hard to follow, no doubt.


It wasn’t. They were chastised at times and given warnings but it ended because they couldn’t renew Clarkson’s contract because he punched his producer in the head as he could only offer him cold food in a remote hotel. In solidarity (and a huge pile of cash offered by Amazon that made them instant millions) Hammond and May walked.

I don’t see any scenario to be fair where they could have done any differently. Any of us punch a colleague out and we’re gone and yes then we’ll probably get another job, even one that could possibly pay better. Which isn’t really fair but that’s the way it works.

In somewhat parallel to what Dave is saying though, it was going to happen anyway. The audience in the UK was ebbing slowly away. It’s never been able to match a behemoth in ratings like Countryfile (and I am not joking there it got several million more viewers at the same time).


That wasn’t anything to do with how they behaved on screen though, or the jokes they included in the show. All that footage was edited together and approved for broadcast. They didn’t hijack the BBC feed and just put out whatever they wanted. BBC might have given them warnings, but that was the same BBC who decided to include those scenes or those jokes in the first place. I imagine they didn’t know what would bother people until after something aired and then they told off the cast like naughty schoolboys making dirty jokes.


I didn’t say anything otherwise, they left the show because Clarkson punched a producer in the face.

He did do it after several official verbal warnings for some of the racist material but I’m not sure how much it counts as the punch has to be a sackable offence of gross misconduct. There’s no way you can let it pass without setting a terrible precedent.

I’m just saying factually that as much as part of the audience loved that kind of thing it didn’t present amazing ratings domestically, they raised a 3m rating show to around 7m and then a drop back to around 5m, Countryfile with John Craven got 9m, Chibnall Doctor Who got 10m, all on a Sunday. Bringing in LeBlanc raised them significantly internationally as he’s a bigger name.


Not that I don’t agree with you Gar, but they didn’t even sack him. They just “chose not to renew his contract” which was ending soon anyway. Which might sound like splitting hairs, but there is a significant difference.


I agree but to be fair I did mention that before.

It was the convenient option as the contract was due barely weeks later. If it had 3 years left to run I’m certain he’d have been just sacked for gross misconduct. Despite what he says that he was hugely loyal to the BBC he could also have fucked off to Amazon anyway because the money they were offering was and is crazy and makes little sense financially to me. I would have.


Changing the subject: some Christmas presents for the kids arrived early today.

Yes I am trying hard not to read them myself first.


Talking about Dr Who in a Dr Who thread?


Ah, I missed that in the mix.emphasized text