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Published on November 1st, 2011 | by Meredith Burdett

Avoiding the Line of Fire

We all knew that something like this might happen. Doctor Who has been going through a renaissance over the last six years with a hugely popular and unrelenting comeback, two spin-off shows and a spot as rightful “top dog” in the BBC’s arsenal of ratings winners.

But something had to give at some point, nothing remains the same forever and change is inevitable. But that’s not necessarily to mean that the end of days has arrived.

Where is this all going you ask? We’re talking about the recent culling of Doctor Who Confidential, the documentary show that has highlighted the making of each Doctor Who episode since it’s return in 2005.

There’s been outcry, there’s been anger, there’s been frustration and there’s been a general disbelief that a show as popular and original as this has been taken off the air in its prime, with hardly any explanation and no build up. Campaigners have started working away furiously with petitions to get the show reinstated and internet forums have been ablaze with conversations asking one question: just what were the BBC thinking?

But, faithful readers, as sad as it is to see a show as vibrant and entertaining as Doctor Who Confidential leave us, we must be thankful that it’s not Doctor Who that’s been cut down or put back into the line of fire. Yes, they’re changing the structure of the show in the run up to the fiftieth anniversary and yes, we have to wait longer for a new series then we normally would but there has to be a point where we all just say “it’s still going strong on telly fifty years later”.

Right now, the BBC has to make some big cuts in order to continue to keep its head above the water, something in the Doctor Who world had to give. One day, Doctor Who Confidential may come back. Yes, one day… but until then there must be no regrets. Because in fairness, all the campaigning in the world by loyal fans and viewers is not going to change the BBC’s mind on this one, which is going to make it a slightly more bitter pill for some to swallow when they realise that.

Confidential has done some truly brilliant work over the last six years. It’s brought us closer to the cast and crew of the show, shown how all the weird and wonderful creatures have been made but most of all, its shown how much love is felt for the Time Lord and his TARDIS by all those talented people involved in bringing it to the screen.

Things will be slightly stranger when a new episode of Doctor Who finishes and there’s no Confidential episode to back it up. But maybe it won’t be all that terrible. At the end of Series 6, the Doctor claimed to Dorium that he had got “too noisy” and needed to “step back into the shadows”. Maybe without a “making of” show after an episode, kids who tuned in might be even more inclined to stay behind the sofa.

After all, if you can’t explain a monster, that just makes it scarier…

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What happens when an eight year old kid watches the 1993 repeat run of Planet of the Daleks? He pretty much ends up here writing about the show that grabbed hold of him and never let go!




10 Responses to Avoiding the Line of Fire

  1. avatar Pete says:

    I thoroughly agree with this. While Doctor Who Confidential was a well made companion piece, there was perhaps little left to say or cover. This is what happens when there’s a budget cut, but also when the emphasis on output changes.

    Enjoyed the parallels of the Doctor taking a step back too, and becoming less of a superstar. A move I welcome completely, not just within the confines of the programme, but a chance for it to go for the thought provoking over the spectacular.

    There’s a little “bye bye Confidential” post on my blog, which might be of interest. http://sadbuthappy.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/doctor-who-confidential-and-the-cutbacks-of-doom/

  2. avatar Francis Cave says:

    Perhaps I am being over optomistic but I would be surprised if DWC was not replaced by something next year.

    Perhaps a 30/60 minute special after each 6/7 episode block?

    • avatar Pete says:

      The odd special episode would be quite nice, on rare occasions. There’s no doubting the talents of the DWC team to make something along those lines.

  3. avatar Alex says:

    Sadly, the recent revelation of that fantastic “500 Miles” cast and crew video, which by all accounts has not only gone viral but has introduced a new meme surrounding “Sara from catering”, is going to simply stoke the flames because there were a lot of people who actually did enjoy seeing what all these folks did. I agree that given the choice, obviously the mothership has to survive – I’d have felt the same way of Sarah Jane had been cancelled for reasons other than the death of Lis Sladen, and if the BBC does ultimately cancel Torchwood I’d also feel the same way. But the fact remains there is precedent for fan lobbying resulting in shows being uncancelled (blame 1960s Star Trek, as well as, depending who you believe, Doctor Who in 1985). And unlike trying to convince the Beeb to revive an expensive series such as, well, Torchwood were it to be cancelled, we’re talking about a documentary production that – cut down to its brass tacks – could be shot by one guy using one of those new generation digital cameras you can buy for a couple hundred dollars at Radio Shack. All the Beeb needs to have are strong indications (such as that petition which will pass the 55,000 mark any time now) that more people care about DWC than they do about, say, just one of the faceless reality shows that populate the schedule, documentaries about chimpanzees. Hell, all the Beeb needs to do is cut a deal with the guys who made Myth Makers for 20 years. And they made those shows for audiences that numbered in the hundreds, maybe a few thousand. Or open the door to Big Finish, or even Doctor Who Magazine. There are alternatives.

  4. avatar James says:

    I agree with this article.

    However, I think we (and ALL writing articles/pieces on the Confidential culling) should all remember that it WASN’T a decision between whether to axe Doctor Who itself or Confidential.

    BBC Three have found it best (“best” here having the meaning of “diabolical”) to cancel one of their higher-rating shows in favour of their own original drama such as Being Human and The Fades (excellent shows) and other ‘reality’-based that I can’t describe realistically without being thrown off here.

  5. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    I certainly don’t consider it the end of the world. I enjoy seeing the odd interview here and there and some behind the scenes stuff but I think I’m okay with just seeing some of this stuff on the DVD boxed set at the end of the year. In fact, I used to like the cut down versions of the confidentials on the DVD sets a lot more than the whole episode. Those were far too long.

  6. avatar Andrew says:

    DWC must so cheap to make that I’m surprised it’s been culled. Although became less interested in it myself, as they tend to cover the same things, it would surely be of interest to anyone looking to work within film and TV. It does need a reboot, shorted to maybe just 25 minutes, but they could have something that focuses on Doctor Who’s past, and perhaps show were these areas are relevant to the episode just shown.

  7. avatar Mr Brak says:

    Yes, but was DWC actually any good in the last year or so? I’m a fan of ‘Who but it’s not blasphemy to suggest that DWC was ‘meh’ at best. It seems that anyone criticising Who or DWC recently is a troll or an unbeliever when that’s clearly not the case. If you feel that Who has lost something in recent seasons, or that DWC was a programme in need of a tale then that’s fine. DWC had, with the exception of a couple of shows, tailed off to a point where it was hardly must-see TV in the last season. That’s not a big deal to say it, just that it may well be true to a number of people. So what if the Beeb want to put the money saved into something else? Being off the air may have allowed Doctor Who to come as something better in 2005 (and it’s all subjective) so what’s to say DWC wouldn’t benefit from a year or two to reconsider its aims? I would rather that than another season of Karen and Arthur having to be almost deliberately ‘crazy’ to pass the time. Look at the ep with Mark Gatiss talking about how to write for the different Doctors; something interesting and insightful. Don’t keep something just because you’re concerned about a vacuum.

  8. avatar The 13th Doctor says:

    DWC really had went stale recently…. I remember watching an episode where they resulted to talking to the chef in the catering van, and people want to save a show like this? I also started to get quite irritated when the only thing they filmed during shots was Karen Gillan acting like a buffoon. So I cant say Ill miss it.

  9. avatar Simon says:

    I think what a lot of people need to understand is, whose to say DWC won’t come back at some point? Everybody right now is reeling from the recession, and until it ends, life just won’t be the same as it was before.

    There’s no reason to suspect it won’t return once the economy stabilises, or still appears on the Seasons’ DVDs/Blu-Rays and just not be broadcast on television.

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