So when exactly did Doctor Who become newsworthy?


I grew up with Doctor Who: I was just seven years-old when the programme was first broadcast and was, as a child, a huge fan. I was, I admit, highly sceptical when its re-launch was announced in 2003 but accept now that the re-fresh has worked beyond measure. I have shamelessly enjoyed become a fan for a second time along with my young children. So, if you’d told me 6 months ago that I would ever tire of hearing about ‘The Doctor‘, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Sadly I am now ‘fed up to the back teeth’ with hearing about the BBC’s favourite science fiction character and I’m not completely convinced I’ll be watching the introduction of, or the continued adventures of, the thirteenth Doctor at all. I thought the announcement of Matt Smith’s replacement, with its own dedicated programme, was bad enough but this recent tsunami of self-publicity by the BBC has completely overwhelmed me.

Now I accept that the BBC is perfectly entitled to advertise its programmes. I have no idea quite what effect advertising has on viewing figures but there’s no harm in reminding us all about up and coming new series or the next episode in the right place. I also accept that Doctor Who is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, profit making enterprises the BBC owns. My problem is when BBC news editors, presumably under pressure from the schedulers and sales teams, consider the broadcasting of a programme (however many years the franchise has been running and however popular it is) as newsworthy.

My version of the Oxford English Dictionary defines the news as:

“information about important or interesting events…”

I gather from that, that the BBC is so full of its own self-importance that it feels that the showing of one of its programmes falls into that category. I, for one, disagree.

Numerous BBC programmes have had a Doctor Who theme this week. Then, not content with promoting the broadcast of the 50 year celebration episode on the news bulletins before and after it was shown, it was still being billed as the third most important news item on BBC Breakfast TV’s news this morning. Are we seriously being asked to consider that the showing of a science fiction programme was the third most important event happening world-wide in the last 24 hours? I don’t care how many countries it was simultaneously broadcast to or how many people viewed it here in the UK. It is just a television programme. It’s not real (sorry kids!) There are numerous more newsworthy events here in the UK, let alone in the world, that are more important than the showing of an episode of Doctor Who

It seems to me that the BBC has started to regularly run trailers for its programmes during news bulletins. Last week Panorama was about former soldiers’ admissions that they had killed unarmed IRA suspects during the troubles in Northern Ireland. I am not denying that this revelation is newsworthy but there is no need to turn it into an advert by ending the item with: “If you want to know more about this, you can watch Panorama tomorrow night at 9pm on BBC1”. That’s not news – it’s just an advert.

I remember a time when the BBC News content was revered world-wide and not a replacement for the Radio Times. Can we get it back to that please?

Uniformity at HMIC

Someone else’s views on the Tom Winsor in uniform debate.

The Custody Record

Yesterday, Sunday 29th September 2013, members of the police service from around the country gathered at Cardiff with family, friends and colleagues of fallen police officers for National Police Memorial Day (NPMD).

As a national and highly regarded event it attracts the senior officers from many forces along with with other dignitaries such as the Home Secretary Theresa May. Also in attendance in his role as Chief Inspector of HMIC was Mr Tom Winsor.

Mr Winsor is not popular with many police officers. He is the architect of reforms to policing that many officers feel are undermining the police service in England and Wales and destroying the office of constable. Mr Winsor is also the first Ch Insp of HMIC that has not come from a police background.

In advance of the day the HMIC leaked confirmation that Mr Winsor would be wearing a ceremonial uniform at NPMD. It was…

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Tom Winsor does it again!

ImageOnce again Mr Tom Winsor (not ‘Sir’ as cited below in the petition) has enraged both serving and retired police officers by wearing a ‘police uniform’ this time to the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph. For those who don’t know, Tom Winsor is not, and has never been, a police officer.  He is a lawyer and economic regulatory professional who was the Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator for Great Britain from 5 July 1999 until 4 July 2004. He is, or was, a partner in international law firm White & Case LLP. On 1 October 2010, he was appointed by UK Home Secretary Theresa May MP to carry out a wide-ranging review of the remuneration and conditions of service of police officers and staff in England & Wales, the first for over 30 years. In October 2012 he was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. He is the first holder of that role to come from a non-policing background.

When he wore the uniform in September of this year to the National Police Memorial Day Service in Cardiff a petition was raised on the 10 Downing Street website saying:

“Sir Tom Windsor (sic) should NOT wear any ceremonial Police uniform”

Over 10,000 people have signed it so the relevant government department was required to send a response and this is it:

“The post of HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMCIC) is a Crown appointment made on the recommendation of the Home Secretary and with the approval of the Prime Minister. There is a ceremonial uniform that is associated with the appointment. This is not a police uniform. It is for the HMCIC to decide the public engagements at which he wears the uniform.”

If more than 100,000 people sign it then it will be debated by a Backbench Committee. I’m not personally convinced that will do much good but if like me you believe he really shouldn’t be wearing a police uniform (ceremonial or otherwise) please sign the petition at and if enough of us sign it we will find out what effect a debate by a Backbench Committee has.



Pure Nostalgia

Pure Nostalgia

For the second time since I started personal training sessions I was asked today to do an aerobic exercise called ‘The Spotty Dog’. Convinced that this ungainly and rather awkward routine was named after a television character from my pre-school years I searched You Tube this evening and found this clip from the 1950s.

Apart from proving me right just 6 minutes and 40 seconds into the episode, it brought back wonderful memories of my very early childhood watching ‘Watch With Mother’ on a black and white, rented, two channel television (What happened to television rentals?) I couldn’t help but compare it with the sophisticated CGI packed children’s entertainment of today and found myself yearning for the simplicity of the entertainment supplied back then by the BBC with just a handful of wooden puppets.

Those were the days…….