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Published on January 19th, 2012 | by Andrew Reynolds

Fern Who?

Doctor Who hasn’t fared well on Room 101. First Michael Grade cast it into the fiery chasm and now in perhaps the most shocking blow former This Morning present and guest on the newly revamped Room 101 Fern Britton has revealed via Digital Spy that she hates watching Doctor Who:

“I think Doctor Who is the most dreary thing. I think it’s dreary.”

Apparently she thinks it’s dreary.

Fern also went on to add:

“I hate sci-fi as it’s not real and all these people who are fans think it is real and it’s some sort of religion to them.”

Unpack that sentence for a moment and you’ll be left with a pretty reductive view of fiction – sure sci-fi operates in galaxies that are indeed far, far away but that doesn’t mean the emotions don’t resonant with real life experiences. Perhaps not as real as say: phone in competitions, winter fashion trends at affordable prices and rectal exams with Paul Ross.

The less said about equating hating sci-fi and religious fervour the better but we will be taking calls later with Dr. Steele on that subject after the news.

Offering a comforting pat on the knee and a chance to talk to some of our counsellors afterwards Fern offered conclusive evidence of just how out of touch Sci-Fi is with reality:

“I tried to watch Star Wars three times but I’ve never got passed the first 12 minutes as I’ve always fallen asleep.”

Of course the opening twelve minutes which contain perhaps one of the greatest opening shots of all time – the Imperial Star Destroyer passing overhead – still if you can’t text in your opinions about the Imperial Senates Stance and Princess Leia’s fashion sense then what’s the point?

If you cast Room 101 into Room 101 does the universe implode? And, most crucially, what does Holly Willoughby think?

Room 101 returns Friday at 20:30 on BBC One.


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

10 Responses to Fern Who?

  1. avatar Krumstets says:

    Well, fair enough, she doesn’t like it and has at least try to rxplain why. Of course its a jaded view, but then what should one expect from a daytime TV presenter not renowned for her intellectual prowess?

  2. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    Hey Fern…you know that Coronation Street…right..not real…you know that Eastenders…not real…yep, Sherlock, yes he’s not real….yes Fern…it’s called drama…drama…yes, pretend, yes pretending that’s it Fern IT’S ALL PRETEND!!!!!

  3. avatar Jazzy1969 says:

    I completely agree ! As a long stanging fan of Dr Who (35 years !) and a practicing Christian I’m also quite offended by her comments that sci-if is “some sort of religion” to its fans ! I love Dr Who and always will but at the end of the day its just a television programm that we all love !

  4. avatar welshaledj says:

    she is wrong. i am a doctor who fan and i dont believe its real. i just think its awesome. its better than watching boring shit like eastenders,emmerdale,coronation street and reality shows. also its not a religion to me.

  5. avatar Stlshawn says:

    Not real? Huh?

    “There is no Santa clause, there is no Easter bunny, and there is no queen of England”, love a good quote,,,, I guess megamind isn’t real either?

    There is one thing I have to say on all this,,,,
    I have travelled many places, seen many things, learned things from how to show to shoe a horse, to how to calculate internal stresses on complex architectural structures, to how to properly hold your bowl at a Thai festival. I have spent time at the homes of factory workers, congressmen, convicted meth makers, pastors, street thugs, well known artists, prostitutes, captains of industry, fast food workers, professional sports players, nobel nominees, and many many others. As Natalie merchant said “I’ve walked these streets in a spectacle of wealth and poverty”.

    I can tell you, beyond a doubt in my mind, if someone says they are a Science fiction fan, they are almost always among the brightest people I will meet. They are the ones that create, develop and use technology long before its dumbed down for the masses. They usually have a very great understanding of science and history. They are usually the ones that have The ability to concentrate and have in depth thoughts and conversations on a variety of subjects.

    Conversely, science fiction opponents tend have an almost sophomoric desire to segregate themselves from the intelligent people. They believe that the world of “cool kids” vs “brainy kids” still exists long after junior high school. They tend to be overly sheltered, easily herded, and completely clueless as to the workings of the world around them. Their conversations and thoughts never get deeper than tabloid headlines or news flashes.

    To say something like she did on television shows a complete lack of tact and understanding of the world. It is the equivalent of saying she doesn’t like Indian folk songs because they put her to sleep and people who listen to them are crazy and completely out of touch with reality. If you want to alienate yourself to an entire group within society, she has found a way.

    Most intelligent people, most technocrats, most artists, most of the people who understand and develop this world and the world of our future are science fiction fans. They should all take what she has very personally and do what they can to highlight her comments so that all the writers and dreamers of the world know of this woman’s distain for all fans of science fiction.

    I understand this person is a light talk show host on some morning program. If we could get every actor, every producer, every show runner, every writer, everyone who works in the fields of imagination and science to inform the heads of this morning chat show that they will not be taking part in the program due to her comments, maybe then she will realize that the world has evolved past what she remembers from junior high school.

    Hopefully we shall never again see anyone on her show who works in, or just simply enjoys, science fiction. I don’t think the producers of her show realizes how large an element of society that would be.

    Comments like hers can no longer be allowed to go unchallenged. It is time we make ourselves heard.

    • avatar Chris says:

      “Most intelligent people, most technocrats, most artists, most of the people who understand and develop this world and the world of our future are science fiction fans.”

      I wouldnt combat sweeping generalisations by making different sweeping generalisations. People are all different and should be judged on their merits not wether they like this or that. Fern Brittain is a daytime TV presenter not a policy maker and she was more than dealt with on the show, Robert Webb referred to her and her family as idiots. Anyone with half a brain knows what she said was both unfunny and ill informed and therefore not in keping with the show (itself a science fiction conceit).

      As for my Room 101 nominations how about
      Daytime TV – a series of shows for the apathetic whose content is either advertising the next proigramme or the evening schedule, selling either family squabbles as entertainment or a tired cliched glamorous lifestyle to people sitting at home too tired or poor to live them.
      Weight hipocrisy – the very idea of an overweight woman advertising Rivita to encourage weight loss only to shift her own bulk by using the advertising money to pay for weight loss surgery?
      Not understanding the premise of Room 101 – You can say what you want as long as its funny or interesting.
      Ready Steady Cook – Anything that propels Anthony Worral Thompson to stardom must be the work of Satan himself. The pain of watching chefs prepare the same dozen or so barely edible dishes against the clock for joe public to marvel over. Seeing Embryonic celebrity chefs vie for attention like wooden spoon wielding gladiators, so they can get a slice of the Jamie Oliver pie, and seeing halfwit host Fern Brittan desperately trying to work out if its a red pepper or green tomato day, watching someone struggle to count has never been so unappealing. Why oh why was Ready Steady Cook not set in the past?

  6. avatar Chris says:

    Perhaps she needs a gastric band around her brain instead of her stomach,at least it might squeeze some imagination out of it which she obviously lacks.Joking aside,it is a very patronizing attitude,other people can have passions about whatever they are interested in but all science fiction fans are religious zealots just because they are passionate about something they like,and of course Doctor Who is a real person and Star Wars is a documentary,yeah right.

  7. avatar Dave says:

    ‘Always set in the future’? Er, wrong! eg: War of the worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Abyss, Contact, The Puppet Masters, Quatermass & the Pit, Tron, Stargate, etc. etc.
    Without any great effort I’ve compiled a list of around 50 S.F. stories set in the present. No-one says you have to like it, Fern, but at least get your basic facts right!

  8. avatar Chris says:

    The premise of Room 101. i.e. that celebrities banish innocuous or odd things to Room 101 with a personal anecdote (preferably funny) to illustrate why. For example an old friend of mine called Richard banishing toothpaste to Room 101 would illicit the hilarious story of when I squirted toothpaste into his underpants. This act was in revenge for him eating a bacon sandwich and drinking tea in front of me and a few friends he’d invited to stop over after a night out. The problem being that we weren’t offered so much as water. What is funny is that he put on the doctored pants until the day of an interview he was running late for. As you can imagine in a similar fashion to the effects of fresh chilli when cooking, toothpaste can have quite an effect on more sensitive areas of the body. Unable to change and properly wash in time Richard squirmed through his interview with Aqua Fresh working its magic on his Jacobs (Pasquale 2006). Now whether you find that tale of teenage vengeance funny or not, that illustrates the premise of Room 101.

    Fern Brittan appeared on Friday’s show and made the classic mistake of not understanding the above premise. Her first choice for 101? Homework! Her reason, it takes hours, her kids are up doing it until 2am. Well firstly, who other than Lisa Simpson and Hermione Granger actually likes homework? And secondly, as other guest Robert Webb pointed out, if it takes her kids until 2am to do their homework they can’t be the brightest stars in the galaxy. Which brings me to Fern’s second and most controversial choice, science fiction. Her reasoning “Its not real” well again thanks to Webb it was pointed out to her that “fiction” is in the name? Given the huge lengths made to manufacture reality TV there are very few TV programmes that are ‘real’ in any accurate sense of the word. When she and Phillip used to host This Morning are we supposed to believe that Brian Blessed really was ‘just passing’ the studio when he popped in for a chat? Or was he booked by a team of researchers because he had a book/play/film coming out? How many of the This Morning viewers actually use the recipes that are demonstrated, buy the clothes that are featured or take the expensive holidays that are talked about? This Morning is as much fantasy and escapism as any science fiction programme. And while we are at it, it is programmes like This Morning where I regularly see/saw the likes of Anita Dobson referred to as “Angie” and asked “Are you and Den going to get back together?” by Fern and her peers. Before Fern blasts science fiction fans for being unable to separate fact from fiction she needs to get her own house in order.

    Fern also opined “Why don’t they set it in the past?” What like Cowboys and Aliens, The Time Machine, half of Doctor Who, LOST, Frankenstein, Star Wars or Quantum Leap? Yeah if only the science fiction writing community had thought of that? Surely ten minutes of research before the show wouldn’t have hurt Fern? I assume she attracted a fee she really should have made more effort to earn it. It seems hypocritical in the extreme that anyone who hosted Ready Steady Cook for ten years to say ANYTHING derogatory about any other TV, especially TV that has won BAFTAs and EMMYs by the bucket load. The vitriol Fern has attracted has nothing to do with nerdy science fiction fans being unable to take a joke. The problem is that Fern didn’t make a joke. She just said she didn’t like science fiction because “Its not real”.

    The real worry is that if Fern really thinks room 101 is simply for things that one doesn’t like, without the need for a funny joke or anecdote to back it up then why didn’t she consign Cancer, war, hunger, debt, pain, murder, burglary and stubbed toes to Room 101. Her own inability to understand the format seems to reveal a more disturbing truth that for Fern the existence of science fiction is a bigger threat to the world than fundamentalism, pollution, greed or nuclear arms, which as any one knows is only true where the Star Wars prequels are concerned. Fern seems to think that homework is a bigger pain than… pain. So idiotic and bereft of any genuine comic insight were Ferns choices I was reminded of Desmond Lynham’s equally embarrassing appearance on the show in which he argued for traffic wardens and tax to go into room 101!

    Fern’s other biggest crime is that it made Danny Baker’s equally grumpy and banal observations less obvious. Cool, punk and panel shows were Danny’s choices in what seemed a bitter attempt at self deprecation that doesn’t work when you are trying to show how clever you are at the same time. Danny slams panel shows like Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, clearly forgetting that he presented Win, Lose or Draw for years on end after his other big gig doing the Daz Doorstep Challenge! Oh the giddy heights of proving that housewives can get their knickers whiter than Donny Osmand’s teeth. Fortunately for the viewers at home, along for the ride was Robert Webb who looked suitably beguiled as each tired 101 candidate was announced. His choices included people commenting on his bald spot and The Jeremy Kyle Show which lead to Webb making funny and personal observations for comic effect i.e. the purpose of the show.

    So just in case you are ever asked onto Room 101 don’t pick the Germans on holiday, missing the bus or exams. And if you do go on pick something funny like the Cadburys Caramel Bunny, corned beef or self aggrandising blogs (see what I did there Danny?).

  9. avatar Dave says:

    If stories about things that are ‘not real’ are going into Room 101, doesn’t that include A Midsummer Night’s Dream – about fairies? Or is Shakespeare immune to this? And James Bond, and all the stories by the Brontes and Dickens, etc, etc…

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