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Published on June 16th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley


(So, the story so far: Doctor Who fans concerned about the lack of an announcement concerning the commissioning of Series 7 were dismayed to find an article in Private Eye revealing that the broadcast of the next run would be delayed. BBC personnel moved to dispel talk of cancellation by confirming that Series 7 had been commissioned, but omitted to mention the likely scheduling, and made their announcements via Twitter rather than an official BBC Press Release.

Steven Moffat, meanwhile, has been going steadily greyer and more incomprehensible, fending off messages on Twitter using the copy/paste function on his laptop.)

Now you’re up to speed: the saga rumbles on today, with the BBC News site publishing details (two days later) of BBC One Controller Danny Cohen’s Q&A sessions at the Church and Media conference, where we first heard that the 2012 episode might be delayed/pushed back in some way.

The following is presumably supposed to be the BBC’s polished response to rumours that started after the event on Tuesday. However it features a few contentious points that have caused showrunner Steven Moffat to response on Twitter (see below).

According to the BBC, in an article titled “Sherlock’s success means less Doctor Who in 2012″ Cohen said that “not all of the commissioned stories would be transmitted in 2012.”

“There will be some episodes, but there won’t be a full series, so we won’t have a 13-part run.”

Also, when questioned about the number of episodes that would be aired in 2012, given Moffat’s involvement with Sherlock, Danny Cohen responsed:

“He [Moffat] needs enough time to get that done and then start work on the next series of Doctor Who. So there will be [Doctor Who] episodes, but not as many.”

“There’s only so many hours a day he can be awake. The man has to sleep and eat, and he’s got a family.”

“Steven Moffat is the creative driving force behind Doctor Who. He also, rather magically at the same time, created and got to air Sherlock. So we have to get that balance right.”

“There’ll be more episodes again in 2013, for the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. So that’s a big year.”

But to top it all off, Steven Moffat responded to suggestions of a conflict of interest between Sherlock and Doctor Who, stating on Twitter:

The scheduling of Dr Who has got NOTHING to with Sherlock. On the plus side THE BBC SPELLED MY NAME RIGHT!!!!

So why the :facepalm:?

As we’ve been stating on this site for several weeks now, all this needed was the BBC to let fans and interested parties know that there would be a break, and the issue could have been put to bed and we could have moved on. Instead it has been allowed to drag on in the most embarrassing and shoddy manner.

Whether true or not, the BBC could have attributed the delay to the Olympics, or the new studio complex in South Wales, but instead nothing like this has been forthcoming. The BBC One Controller has said one thing, the showrunner has indicated that this is inaccurate.

It has got messy, but not only that, this is one of the most inept displays of public relations from the BBC in a long time.


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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 :facepalm:

  1. avatar zarbisupremo says:

    You’d have thought that the Beeb would have learned their lesson after the Ecclestone fiasco.

  2. avatar Laz says:

    Well, I don’t want them to lie, I want them to tell the truth when they WANT to tell the truth, when the right time comes to tell the truth, not now only because some unprofessional people wrote stuff (some true, some not) on a magazine.

    The BBC is handling this badly? Probably. But I’m not sure I would have done better. You try to put things at rest and then someone else arrives and messes it all up again. And with someone else here I mean BBC news (yes, if you consider the BBC as a whole… they’re definitely handling this badly. Today’s article was ridiculous, since that Sherlock thing had already been denied two days ago).

    And frankly I think Steven Moffat’s tweets about this matter so far have been extremely clear.

  3. avatar Rick says:

    Showrunners sometimes have to lie for the greater good concerning guests, spoilers, etc. However, I believe Moffat when he says it’s got nothing to do with his Sherlock schedule as I believe that his first love is DW.

    I also believe that Danny Cohen should probably shut up.

  4. avatar IanOTimelord says:

    I think that there is some within the BBC, particularly BBC News that wants Doctor Who to fail.
    When the series returned on their red button news pages they made a news article that the rating were down after the Impossible Astronaut. Yet they must know as we do they were the over nights, then yesterday the BBC news article saying Steven Moffat has too much on with Sherlock and that is why Doctor Who will not have a full season next year.

  5. avatar ChrisL says:

    This is all so incredibly unedifying.
    The amateurish way this has been handled is staggering and only serves to show The BBC as a bunch of incompetent fools, which I’m sure they’re not… at least I hope they’re not.

    I can understand Steven Moffat wishing to develop his other series, ‘Sherlock’, because it’s actually very good. However, when this comes at the expense of my particular favourite show then I start to get annoyed. If Moffat can’t fit both shows into his allegedly busy schedule then perhaps he should be encouraged to choose one or the other.
    Dr Who fans are being messed around again simply because The BBC knows we are a loyal bunch who will tune in, at whatever time they choose, on whichever day they choose and even after a lengthy gap between series. Our devotion is being abused here – again!

    Moffat’s talent is beyond doubt but his public relations need to improve greatly. He is constantly rude and obnoxious to his fans and this can only be because he knows Dr Who fans will watch his shows no matter how much he mistreats us.
    I absolutely love his scripts and his incredible plot twists but as a person he leaves a lot to be desired. His outbursts and rants against the very people who, by supporting his ventures, are the ones he should show a bit more respect to, seem to indicate an arrogance that is unseemly at best.

    This latest dismissal of us Dr Who fans as irrelevent sheep who will put up with any, and all, sorts of abuse is pretty much the last straw.
    I’ve tried to defend Moffat in the past, simply because his writing is so good, however I am now wishing he would just go away, write his beloved Sherlock, and hand over Dr Who to somebody who actually cares about the show.

    Is Neil Gaiman available?

    • avatar Lazarus77 says:

      Moffat has said, more than once, that his schedule isn’t the reason for the late transmission. The comments to which you’re referring came from another source at the BBC. I believe that the reason for only airing one half of series 7 next year is to move the series to a more favourable air period of Fall and Winter. The summer weather has hurt the show before and a move would, in my opinion, be wise.

      As for his “outbursts,” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a showrunner appealing to the better judgement of “fans” to stop spoiling the show for other people. A writer works hard to keep an audience guessing and it can be very frustrating when that hard work is revealed long before the show goes to air. In any case, the comments you found upsetting were directed at a specific group of people (those determined to spoil surprises under the guise of “reporting”) and not the collective Who fan base.

      • avatar ChrisL says:

        Actually I agree 100% with Moffat’s criticism of the amount of spoilers that appear prior to the release of each episode. In fact I purposely stopped following on twitter everybody and anybody with any connection to, or interest in, Dr Who due to the number of spoilers that appeared on there. They were ruining my enjoyment of the show. For the same reason I also stopped visiting websites (yes even this one) for fear of having the plots revealed to me.
        So no, your assumption about which of Steven Moffat’s comments I found upsetting is far from the mark.
        The comments to which I refer happened a while back and definitely were aimed at Who fans in general. And before you ask, no I don’t have any links to these comments, nor can I tell when or where they appeared – sorry.

        I also agree wholeheartedly with the decision, if that’s what it is, to air the shows in the Autumn. I have always saved my Dr Who to watch during the hours of darkness so a change to an Autumn/Winter time slot would suit me down to the ground.

  6. avatar mrgrimbeard says:

    I’m just glad that the current BBC controller doesn’t absolutely hate the show, isn’t out to get it cancelled & precipitate another 15-year wait for the next episode!

  7. avatar Doc 14 says:

    Moffat does seem to be a little bit abrupt as a person. I remember reading some article where he abused 60′s Doctor Who calling it “shit” and his abuse of the fans who released the details was over the top. It must be annoying for him yes, but there’s no need to start abusing people. Also I don’t even like his stories that much. They alienate the casual viewer too much. He is the lead writer of two shows… Really? There’s just no need to have one lead writer doing two shows. Moffat needs to choose. Continue Sherlock or continue Doctor Who. To be honest if he was made to choose I’d hope he would continue on Sherlock and pass on Doctor Who to someone who is capable of writing stories that please everyone. Whilst I watch and usually understand Doctor Who, my family just can’t get the stories and are switching off. The BBC need to sort it out.

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