Editorial Matt Smith as the Doctor

Published on December 24th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

Shouldn’t You Know Better?

I awoke this Christmas Eve morning to find that Doctor Who is at risk of cancellation.

News to you too?

Apparently it’s not news to the denizens of Airlock Alpha, who have asked “Will It Be 50 Years And Done For ‘Doctor Who’?” an article in which “Online experts of the show share their feelings on Alpha Waves Radio”.

This may come as a surprise to you, but Airlock Alpha is a successful website, as is their podcast. Why, then, are they peddling such complete nonsense? And who are these “online experts”?

Fortunately they did get hold of someone who knows what he’s doing, Radio Free Skaro’s Steven Schapansky, who rightly asked:

“Why would you think they are trying to cancel their biggest money maker? It’s the flagship show of the No. 1 network in the United Kingdom. It makes so much money for them overseas.”

And that’s the point, isn’t it? Doctor Who in 2011 is not Doctor Who in 1986-1989. This is a successful show, so why on earth would the BBC cancel it, and where on earth did this rumour come from?

A quick read through the article reveals no sources for the rumour. A browse through the popular Doctor Who forums also reveals no sources for the rumour.

In fact, the whole sorry escapade is little more than trolling on an industrial scale, citing the thoughts of Airlock Alpha’s columnist Ann Morris that people can’t afford to buy DVDs. They can’t? Interesting then that BBC News are this morning reporting that yesterday was the busiest day on the High Street… EVER.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, this whole sorry matter is nothing but complete bull. I am loathe to criticise another website as I know how much work goes into managing everything that you see here, but seriously, Airlock Alpha, you need to have a serious word with yourselves. You’ve lost credibility and respect in just a few minutes. You’ve promoted a rumour that you might well have started yourselves, peddled inaccuracies and awoken ridiculous comments about Matt Smith from back when he was first unveiled… in short, given your standing and the length of time you’ve been online…

…Shouldn’t you know better?


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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+.

8 Responses to Shouldn’t You Know Better?

  1. avatar Simon says:

    Oh, for God’s sake…

    I wish people would stop doing this every five f***ing minutes! Unless the controller for the BBC says so, it’s unlikely it will be cancelled. Now, dear rumour merchants, please hold your tougues before TRUE fans cut them from you.

  2. avatar Francesco says:

    Airlock Alpha has been spreading false rumours about lots of shows for a long time, now, they haven’t had any credibility for years. They just make it for the hits titles like “Doctor Who is cancelled!!” bring. I see no other explaination. It’s really sad, it used to be a great site years ago (when it was still called SyFy Portal.)

  3. avatar Andrew says:

    It’s probably started by Moffat bashers who’ve been Tweeting each other, trying to stir rubbish up.

  4. avatar Michael Hinman says:

    Hello, and thanks for the interesting story (well outside the snark invests and unfair attacks levied against my team).

    First if all, we aren’t saying that Doctor Who is being cancelled. We never have. But we did address recent actions by the BBC as well as actual issues the BBC And BBC Worldwide are facing that has developed speculation about e future of the show.

    If you take a minute to actually read the story, and maybe take 129 more to listen to the podcast (I know that’s asking a lot, hehe) you will see that we are not promoting such an idea at all. In fact, just listen to the opening remarks after the intro and I make it clear that we are not suggesting in any way that the show itself is in any peril, that we are addressing concerns that are based on some real-life issues, and that we are bringing people in to discuss it.

    If there WAS an issue, however that might change how the franchise is represented to audiences, the time to address those issues are now, however, not after such an announcement is made (where it would be too late). I love Doctor Who so much that I put together an ADDITIONAL podcast this year when one wasn’t planned to address it ahead of the Christmas special. I think Matt Smith is brilliant, and so is Steven Moffat. I’m a huge fan of his version of Doctor Who despite the respect and admiration I have for RTD,

    While I don’t believe DW will be cancelled, there is a good chance that how it will be delivered to us will change. We saw a tease of that in 2010, and the economy has not improved much since then. While you MIT prefer to sit back and ignore people with concerns about the future of the franchise, or pretend it doesn’t matter, that’s really not the case. Is it the 1990s all over again? No. But it’s certainly not 2005 or 2006 or 2007 either.

    Also, I hope you know that people do read what it is you write, and we are human beings. The reason why my site has been so “successful” and “prominent” is because we are connected (and a part of) fandom, and we address the conversations and thoughts that are circulating around fandom, even when people don’t really want to talk about it openly. We also provide analysis and context, and are not afraid to reach out to other websites and journalists to get the full story.

    Are they true experts in DW? Well probably not, but they are knowledgable and mostly widely read or listened to. They also mostly have insight in various aspects of DW, whether it be cultural, business, or just actual longtime fans who also observe the ebb and flow of television.

    I certainly would not come out in a public forum and snark on your website just because I disagreed with what you are saying. In fact, your piece is very well written and does bring up some great points, even if ill-informed in some respects.

    I don’t troll message boards and such, I don’t have the time. I’m busy trying to run three sites, have a personal life, and read and respond to hundreds of pieces of email I receive every day. And I also take the time to share comments when I can here.

    I have been doing entertainment reporting for more than 13 years now, and have included that with nearly 20 years of full journalism experience (mostly in newspaper). I have made contacts over the years with many people, including decision-makers at studio and network levels. Do all rumors come true? No. That is the nature of e business, and something we explain on our website. There could be changes to the distribution model … That’s something we felt needed to be addresse and what I spent hours putting together in a podcast for … That’s how important it was to me.

    If you wish to observe single-day sales numbers and say, “See? No DVD issues here,” then I’m sorry. If a single-day could make or break a market,menu would companies waste time and resourcs trying to sell the other 364?

    I think the show IS popular, but the business mechanics behind DW is much different then, say, a network show. If you’d like, I’d be happy to talk to you about that, and even invite you to submit a guest column on AA to discuss your disagreements.

    We arent the end all, be all of scifi. But we do encourage open conversation and thoughts. Sure, the headline, in hindsight, might have been a little more sensational than I prefer, but I hope that it did encourage you to listen and become as well informed as possible.

    I apologize for any errors/typos here … I’m not as adept with the iPad keyboard as some people. :-) but please feel free to contact me if you’d like to talk about it more, and great job with your blog!

    • Hi Michael

      Much respect for taking the time to respond to the post and comments. You make some good points and while I don’t agree with all of them (for instance, why is now the time? why are DVDs so important? surely DW can survive without them as it did in the wilderness years) I would encourage our readers to head over to your site and listen to the full discussion.


      • Christian, thanks for the kind words! And seriously, you make some good points.

        Why is the time? Well, to be honest, it was just that several people were talking to me about it at once, a lot of it tied around the excitement of tomorrow’s Christmas special. And they were things that were worth talking. (Oh, I noticed in trying to tap this out on the iPad, I said 129 more minutes … it’s 89 more minutes, lol!)

        The thing about people trying to save a show, or save the way it is, there are three main reasons why campaigns to save shows aren’t successful: They start too late, they don’t speak the language of the business people who make the decisions, and they start too late. Yes, two reasons are the same — it’s the BIGGEST failure on all campaigns. If you wait for a decision to be made and announced, the chances of affecting any change go down to zero.

        And there are warning signs in the air: The specials of 2010, the splitting of Season 6, and the delay of Season 7 (designed to split the production cost over two calendar years, and thus, two budgets). Also, look at how much Matt Smith is making compared to David Tennant, and the per-episode cost reduction that has taken place.

        Is it time to panic? No. Is it time to take action? Most likely not. But people should be ready just in case — because the more fans are prepared, the better their chances are of making sure we get great Doctor Who for years to come. :)

  5. avatar stlshawn says:

    Well, what do you know,,,, TV.Yahoo . com
    finally has some sense. Doctor who is the top of their weekend for Sunday.

    I hope BBCA gets lots of viewers for it.

    I hope BBC sees this as a wakeup call.

  6. avatar brian says:

    i have grown up with WHO from the very beginnings a very sad day when bbc cancelled but awaited with excitement on the news of its return. Whilst not overly impressed with chris eccleston as the doctor , the stories were well written and very good adventures. Then came the david tennant era which in my mind was the peak of the shows revival again well written with the right actor cast as the doctor hugely enjoyable. then oh dear it all went wrong, matt smith could be an excellent doctor but the confusing sometimes odd writing of stephen moffet hold him back. The show needs to go back to its roots of good old fashioned action and adventure it needs to be fun and i have found the matt smith era dull and unintresting. I had high hopes for the start of series 7 “asylum of the daleks” but like all the dalek stories in series 6 & 7 they were not utulised to their max potential instead we got a wandering story of a girl who was in fact a dlek and people emptied to become daleks!!! in short not the show it was and im really not a great fan now!!! next dinosaurs on a spaceship? mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

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