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?