Published on October 7th, 2011 | by Scott Varnham
Is Doctor Who Confidential Worth Saving?
Like 30,000 other like-minded people, I’m in favour of the efforts to save Doctor Who Confidential. It’s a piece of quality programming that is loved by many people and, according to the party line of Twitter campaigner @SaveDWC, “it’s educational, informative entertainment”. Of course, being a media student I’m inclined to agree with him. But at the same time, the show also has its flaws – do they ultimately drive the show beyond the point of no return?
My personal bugbear, as I mentioned in an earlier article, is what I see as an over-reliance on songs that have a tangential and incredibly obvious relation to the subject matter. For example (and I don’t think this is a real example but I hope not) for a bit where a set dresser cleans windows, a short snippet of George Formby’s “When I’m Cleaning Windows” would play. For a montage of a bridge being built, a snippet of “Bridge To Your Heart” by Wax would play. You get the idea.
I think that the making of Doctor Who is only interesting sometimes (and there’s only so many production staff with different roles on the show), and that like most creative pursuits there’s not always a spark of inspiration before the deadline looms so the resulting work is substandard. This is evident in the fact that not all the segments of Confidential are actually about the making of Doctor Who.
During the episode accompanying The Girl Who Waited, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill live out dreams of theirs (drive a car to 100mph and swim with sharks respectively), with only the slightest connection to the show. If I recall correctly, the connection was something to do with the fact that there were holodecks in the episode where your dreams could be played out in reality. Cue sharks and fast women. I honestly thought that the listings for Doctor Who Confidential and Top Gear had merged together and as such was very surprised when it actually happened.
If the show was to come back, the consensus seems to be that it could do with a reboot. The 45 minute run-time is too long (as I say above, they’re really struggling to fill it some weeks), so that would need to be looked at. 15 minutes seems too short, so perhaps a compromise somewhere between the two would do the trick. 25 minutes or so would give them time to cover the important stuff in the show (bear in mind that the segment explaining River Song’s timeline was 13 minutes long, so it would need to be seriously cut down or edited out altogether for a 15 minute Confidential), while getting rid of the non-essentials such as the stars’ interactions on the set (which were a bit like James Corden; they could be entertaining but frustrating if seen too often, as it detracts from the other content).
There are of course several examples of a show being rebooted in a different way after its cancellation, including Not Going Out, Futurama, Family Guy (although personally I can live without that one) and of course, Doctor Who itself. So I feel it would be appropriate for the show to undergo a reboot, or “regeneration”, if you will.
A recent example of the show doing some real good is the Script To Screen competition that got children to write scripts and submit them to the BBC, who picked one and turned it into an episode. Their effort was put onto the small screen as part of the last ever Confidential as Death Is The Only Answer and I’m sure they’ll be proud of it for the rest of their lives.
The bottom line is, I don’t think the petition will work. I want it to, but I doubt it will, as according to Edward Russell (BBC Brand manager) the BBC are treating SaveDWC’s efforts as “lobbying” and are probably filing all related correspondence in a bin marked ‘ignore’. (Thanks to Ian O’Brien for the info in the comments section of this earlier article!) With this in mind, I think we should mourn its early demise rather than try to prolong it beyond the point where people enjoy it.
At its best, Doctor Who Confidential was a great look into the making of one of the best shows on television at the moment. In the unfortunate but at this point likely event that the petition to revert the decision to axe it doesn’t work, then we should remember it as it was: a fun and yet educational show that showed how great it is to work on Doctor Who.