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Published on January 24th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

Official Doctor Who Site to Close?

Following news from the BBC today that the BBC Online budget of £137m is to be cut by a huge 25%, there are concerns that the cuts might have a marked effect on the Official Doctor Who pages.

Several key changes to the superb online service have been announced, notably the replacement of the majority of programme websites with automated content, and fewer news blogs – a direction in which the Official Doctor Who site has been heading recently.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that BBC Online will not offer specialist news content for specialist audiences – a description which could well apply to Doctor Who fans.

Speaking about the program of cuts – the announcement of which follows the departure of Future Media and Technology chief Erik Huggers -  BBC director general Mark Thompson said:

“BBC Online is a huge success, but our vast portfolio of websites means we sometimes fall short of expectation.

“A refocusing on our editorial priorities, a commitment to the highest quality standards, and a more streamlined and collegiate way of working will help us transform BBC Online for the future.”

Interestingly, the iPlayer will also be reshaped, bringing together programming and programming information with archive content. This would seem to be the ideal home for the Doctor Who pages if a decision has been made to close them in their current form.

Exactly what happens to the Doctor Who pages are currently speculation – the Doctor Who site has survived cuts before, notably to the old BBC Cult section which was originally pretty big and features sections for Red Dwarf and Blake’s 7.

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




9 Responses to Official Doctor Who Site to Close?

  1. Carn says:

    I hope it’s not affected too much. The Doctor Who site is great.


  2. It does make sense to have the show sites and iPlayer pages for the same incorporated into one site. This way the BBC don’t have to worry about attracting people to both pages and it makes it easier for the readers as well. Personally I haven’t been impressed with the main Doctor Who page for a while, in fact I don’t visit it any more than once a month if that. They don’t seem to have as in-depth information as they should for their own show to me. I would like to see them make a Doctor Who page in the iPlayer that has both new and old Who as one.

  3. Paul Cavanagh says:

    I think it’s highly unlikely that the Doctor Who site will be axed. The show is incredibly important to the corporation, averaging some of the highest audiences seen anywhere on the BBC, being sold to overseas terriotories, and bringing in the bacon through merchandising and DVD/Blu Ray releases. If there’s one web page that will be safe, then it’s going to be Doctor Who.

    I agree that the DW site isn’t as good as it used to be. I used to visit regularly, but now I get my Doctor Who info elsewhere on the web – primarily from Kasterborous, natuarally. The BBC official site is excellent for younger viewers with games and interactive features, but it’s less useful for older fans these days.

  4. krumstets says:

    Why have the BBC site? Everything you want to know about Who can be found on some excellent sites-such as this one of course.
    Streaming videos,DVD’s,books,games and forums are all being produced by the legion of dedicated and talented fans who do it for love.
    Maybe reduce the BBC site,spend less money on it and therefore have a bit more money to spend on the actual TV series.

  5. Paul Cavanagh says:

    Certainly, there are plenty of good quality sites produced by fans – no dispute there. But I feel it’s important for the BBC to get behind the show and provide good quality content on the website. I also think that many fan sites are really more suitable for us older obsessive types, rather than the child friendly games and short video clips that the BBC is so good at providing.

  6. 23skidoo says:

    If you’ll forgive me for citing another webpage, the Nebula One blog is dismissing this as “a stupid rumor” and “complete rubbish”. However, it doesn’t seem to offer any proof of this. Re: Krumstets – the reason we have the BBC site is because, technically speaking, if it isn’t announced by the BBC, it isn’t official. Yes, this site, the Doctor Who News Page, etc. all do great jobs. But the BBC needs an official voice so when all the fan sites say Paterson Joseph has been cast as the Doctor, the BBC site can say Matt Smith has been cast as the Doctor. Also, the BBC site presents quite a lot of original – official – content. From the short stories to the videogames. Yes, I know people like me grumble that not all of this is available outside the UK. But it’s still official additions to the expanded Doctor Who Universe canon, whereas if a short story appears here it’s only considered fanfic. Also, sites like thus one, and the Tardis Index File Wikia and Doctor Who Online don’t have access to the BBC Archives the way, well, the BBC site does. If it were to go away, none of the fan sites would be able to completely replace it.

  7. 23skidoo says:

    ^^ In my post above I said Nebula One didn’t provide proof. This was an error on my part; I didn’t see the link they provided to a Doctor Who Online posting citing a BBC Online statement that the site will NOT be closing. Apologies for my error. And again with apologies, this time for posting a link to another blog, here is the DWO entry and includes BBC Online’s statement regarding the website: http://nebula-one.blogspot.com/2011/01/official-doctor-who-website-not-closing.html


    • They also don’t call it a “stupid rumour”…

      We’ve already retweeted DWO’s news item on this and will be updating readers as the day progresses.


  8. OK so I’ve updated Kasterborous with the article http://www.kasterborous.com/2011/01/25/doctor-who-site-not-closing/ in which I give some of my own thoughts on the BBC’s slightly confusing response.

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