From Skins to Primeval, shows all across the shop are getting the movie treament at the moment – including potentially Doctor Who. Whether at home or abroad, according to the Guardian this is all to do with cross-media branding – a subject that Russell T Davies speaks about confidently.
BBC Worldwide’s part in the modern production and success has often been played down (it’s the commercial wing of a public service broadcaster, you see) in favour of BBC One senior staff, but Russell is clear in this statement that without BBC Worldwide, there would be no Doctor Who
“Our show couldn’t exist without money from BBC Worldwide,” he says. “We’re running a business from within a public service broadcaster – our merchandising, novels, comic books, towels all help keep the show on air.”
Interestingly although the rest of the article covers Skins and In the Loop (from The Thick of It) there is a bit of information about how RTD approached the reimaging of Doctor Who for 21st century viewers.
Davies tried to define the core brand values of Doctor Who, and decided that could be dangerous. “The original Doctor Who was designed by a focus group to fill a gap between Grandstand and Juke Box Jury,” he says. “They used to use five words to describe the Doctor, and one of Tom Baker’s was ‘bohemian’, but that started to limit the storylines. I think it’s important not to define him in any way, except he’s a hero who doesn’t use violence.
“Audiences are much cleverer than we give them credit for. They know actors change and producers change and shows change. If you entertain them, they’ll stay, if you don’t, they’ll go. The key thing is to stop worrying and go to work.”
It’s a very robotic, cold and cynical article on the whole, one which breaks down television shows that people love into numbers and statements. The BBC may not be guilty of milking Doctor Who 100%, but giving these following words, it might not be too far in the future:
Chris Hirst, managing director of the ad agency Grey: “A brand is just a product with emotional values attached.”