Published on September 21st, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds
We asked a hundred people: Who cares that Doctor Who was beaten by Family Fortunes on overnight viewers on Saturday night? You said: “No, don’t be silly, no one with a wireless connection puts that much worth in live figures anymore; no one cares.” Our Survey said…Eh Errrh!
I’m sorry the top answer was The Guardian. Commiseration’s to you. No brand new KIA, no weekend trip to the Seychelles, no washer/dryer combination. You’ve been such a good contestant but I’m afraid we’re going to have to have that argument again.
You see The Family (Fortunes) of Blood have struck and it’s made the broadsheet look to its comments section for guidance as to why the game show that time forgot managed to embarrass the BBC’s flagship Saturday night programme?
Other than a hasty bit of re-editing when it appeared that even the culturally savvy Guardian knew nothing about how TV ratings work (The Guardian amended the article removing the inaccurate: “Ratings ARE down” to a more sober: “The show was beaten by Family Fortunes on overnight ratings last week”) the conclusion to their survey was again: is Doctor Who too complicated?
Of course we wouldn’t be having this conversation if Family Fortunes hadn’t pipped it to the live audience post which just goes to show how unfair it is to suddenly turn around and say the very things that have distinguished this season from the others of the recent incarnation as the one thing that has dragged it down to, well, the exact same correlated ratings as it had before.
Echoing Kasterborous’ own reasoning for the slump in live audience viewers Toby Whithouse, writer of the fantastically complicated The God Complex, doesn’t think the problem lies with the Doctor:
“Surely it’s the fact that the rest of television has become more simplistic. The themes and plots of (as the fans call it) New Who are no more complex than some classic Who stories. The only difference is, Tom Baker’s Doctor wasn’t jostling in the schedules against Red Or Black.”
To The Guardian’s credit, the article doesn’t put much weight behind the ‘over-complication’ of Doctor Who either and instead reiterates former Script Editor Douglas Adams adage that the show needed to be simple enough for adults and complicated enough for children. Commenter and mother Kathy Ball agrees:
“I think it’s because kids still have no boundaries to their imagination or thinking – they question but are still able to free their minds for all manner of absurdity. Plus, they have been nurtured on Harry Potter so outlandish plots and characters are second nature.”
While it may side with the silent ‘content majorities’ of Who fans, as Toby Whithouse calls them, that have no problem with the complex plotting, there are other ways to instigate a debate rather than regurgitated the non-issue of ratings.