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Published on June 20th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

BBC News: “Unbelievable, unacceptable”

BeehiveCity have run a news item over the weekend speculating on a strained relationship between Doctor Who boss Steven Moffat and BBC News Online.

This is all of course related to the recent confusion over the scheduling of Doctor Who Series 7. Let’s not forget that this is a potentially difficult situation, one that would certainly benefit from being played out in private rather than in public, so we’ll leave any judgements to one side for now.

Following the initial reports from the Church and Media conference at which BBC One Controller Danny Cohen suggested that Steven Moffat needed time to run both Sherlock and Doctor Who, the BBC News Online article which appeared two days later bore the headline “Sherlock’s success means less Doctor Who in 2012″ (later changed to “Sherlock success will hit Doctor Who, says BBC One boss”) focussed on Cohen’s comments concerning Moffat’s workload.

Beehive City have spotted that Neil Gaiman then asked Moffat on Twitter:

“Er… is it my imagination or are you being shafted by BBC online news?”

Which prompted the response:

“It’s not your imagination. Unbelievable, unacceptable.”

As followers of this saga will know, Moffat later clarified that:

“The scheduling of Dr Who has got NOTHING to with Sherlock.”

In an organization the size of the BBC there is every chance that multiple agendas are being played out. We need to recognize this. However, wouldn’t it just be nice to put this to bed with a definitive statement – released the usual way and not via Twitter – so that we can all move on potentially damaging comments from all parties?

We’ll be discussing this in more detail in this week’s podKast, available later today.


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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+.

5 Responses to BBC News: “Unbelievable, unacceptable”

  1. avatar 23skidoo says:

    Wasn’t it BBC News Online that also wrecked Davies’ plans to have Eccleston’s regeneration be a surprise in 2005? I agree, the BBC needs to get its house in order, otherwise all that is going to happen is rumor and speculation will run wild among fans and the media, and in a worst case scenario certain parties might even decide to walk away. Would it really kill anyone to come out and say, officially, that the show is transitioning to a fall broadcast, and that the split season format is going to become permanent? Yeah, fans who are still annoyed we don’t get 24 episodes a season will grumble, but better that than seeing forum posts vilifying Moffat unfairly (as I have seen), or making up rubbish like Doctor Who being lined up for cancellation because it didn’t hit #1 every week this past spring.

  2. avatar Paul Cavanagh says:

    Hear hear! Quite right too 23skidoo. This whole thing has been a rather shambolic mess, and no mistake. But there is a tendancy for fans to over-react in the most absurd manner. I think it’s actually a very difficult situation for both the Moff and the BBC to be in. On the one hand they want to play their cards close to their chests – see Moffat’s huge anti-spoiler rant in DWM etc. On the other hand, there’s massive public interest in Doctor Who, as well as a huge chunk of licence payers’ cash going into it – so people think they have a right to know. Balancing this is very difficult, and as we’ve seen this past week or so, it can all go horribly wrong. Effective communication goes a long way, and the BBC should be better at it by now.

  3. avatar Rick says:

    Honesty and informed, intelligent communication is always appreciated in these situations. BBC is definitely falling short in this regard. Side note: I find it amusing that whenever something like this comes up, we see the stock shot of the angry Moffat face. :)

    What a lot of fans forget is that these 13, 45 minute episodes each year plus the one hour Christmas special actually equate to 29 episodes of the classic series’ 23 minute episodes so these are the biggest, longest seasons the show has ever had. The old series used to have 26 episodes at the maximum back in the day so we’re fairly spoiled now.

    All that being said, it seems to me that Doctor Who brings in a lot of money and it’s hard to reconcile that it’s a budgetary issue. I don’t know what kind of warped thinking is going on at the Beeb or if this is an example of executives throwing their weight around or maybe Moffat has a very contentious relationship with them and the show is paying for it? Who knows! I’m also wondering if the placement of series 7 isn’t going to be all we see in 2012 and 2013. Series 7 ends in early spring 2013, then maybe a special on the anniversary date and then a Christmas special in 2013 and that’s it.

    I fear that because of this delay/stretching out of the show, for *whatever* reason, means that Matt smith will just be leaving that much earlier without doing as many shows, sadly. That is a crime.

  4. avatar Dalek Space Marine says:

    ‘I have a really smart idea’ says one of the chinless BBC execs ‘we have a really succesful tv series with a huge following, so why don’t we just trash it?’ ‘That will save a lot of money’………

  5. avatar Rick says:

    The Internet’s great to get everybody in on the ground floor and keep you abreast of everything. EVERYTHING! Unfortunately, we hear every tiny little snippet that everyone has the good or bad sense to utter or think. Plus, every utterance and stray thought is reported and spread throughout the globe and now, for all intents and purposes, BBC online news is having a bitch-slap back and forth with Moffat and we are watching it. This is not good.

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