Editorial The Doctor sends the empty people to their room in The Doctor Dances

Published on December 9th, 2012 | by Christian Cawley

Spoilers: The Childish Destruction of Surprise

I’ve never felt unbridled anger about a spoiler. Not until now. Anyone who follows us on Twitter will have seen my reaction to what can be described as the biggest spoiler in Doctor Who since… Christopher Eccleston quit, I guess (and the spoiler in question isn’t comparable to that situation, before you get over-excited.)

The Doctor sends the empty people to their room in The Doctor Dances

Leaked by Bleeding Cool (and we won’t be linking to them in this instance because, frankly, you don’t want to know this one) the spoiler – concerning The Snowmen – is a revelation that will likely prove extremely relevant in Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary year.

So why did they leak it? Is it genuine?

Based on their report, it certainly seems genuine. Apparently Bleeding Cool received the information from journalists who attended the recent press screening of The Snowmen. Those journalists had signed an NDA, the basis of which was “don’t print anything”. It seems that yesterday’s news (originating on the Radio Times website) concerning significant casting for the voices of the Christmas episode’s monstrous snowmen was wrongly revealed, and Bleeding Cool reckoned they could go one better.

Now, the difference is that Radio Times almost certainly signed the NDA when attending the press screening. Bleeding Cool didn’t, because they weren’t invited.

That’s right. Diddums.

Blogger Brendon Connolly – whose work we regularly link to and is generally a reliable source to boot – stated that

“I can’t even tease these spoilers without giving a little away, really.”

Believe me when I tell you, readers, that he shouldn’t have bothered.

(It’s worth pointing out that Blogtor Who mentioned a spoiler along the same lines in a speculative tweet, something that was quickly deleted. It’s a shame Bleeding Cool aren’t considering the same degree of conscience.)

I’ll tell you something, Kasterborites. We’ve never been invited to a press screening in the UK. We have, however, been invited to two in the USA.

We’ve also – thanks to the involvement of various artists – been exposed to more spoilers than you can shake a stick at since about 2006/2007. At no point have we ever revealed anything intentionally that was not already widely known by the time of publishing and over the past two years have exercised a strict practice when it comes to spoilers (largely to foster a good spoiler-free atmosphere for our contributors!)

Despite my initial anger at what can only be described as a childish reaction to not having been invited to the screening (and I’d happily be corrected with a compelling argument), I am now absolutely baffled by why the writer concerned would a) think the revealing of any spoiler as a good idea under those circumstances and b) choose that particular spoiler.

Just a few months ago Steven Moffat and Matt Smith appealed to fans not to let any spoilers out concerning Asylum of the Daleks. Kasterborous was proud to be among those that kept the surprise presence of Jenna-Louise Coleman a secret. There was a general mood of acceptance that spoilers were necessary and that those exposed to them would play ball.

Things were nice.

Bleeding Cool and Brendan Connolly have potentially just blown that wide open. For the sake of a few hits and ad revenue (thirty pieces of silver, etc…).

So, for the sake of all that is Doctor Who, for your ultimate enjoyment of The Snowmen, we would recommend firstly that you don’t go searching for this particular spoiler. Better still – and despite the hard work we and other loyal fans put into our websites – we suggest you take leave of Doctor Who websites until you’ve seen The Snowmen.

That’s right – go offline, sort out your Christmas/seasonal shopping, read a few books and put it to the back of your mind until the big day.

I’ve been spoiled. I’m still pretty angry about it. But you don’t have to be.


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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+.

30 Responses to Spoilers: The Childish Destruction of Surprise

  1. avatar Carl Wolf via Facebook says:

    Good for you. It was a pleasant surprise in Asylum. Surprises are part of Christmas. A spoiler now is like peaking at the presents ahead of time why bother wrapping them. Can’t wait to see this episode

  2. avatar Sandra says:

    It’s childish one-upmanship – they didn’t have to post that but did so for pure bloodymindedness. At least with Blogtor, he’d speculated based purely on promo pics, but Bleeding Cool have no excuse at all.

    Fans have played ball with the Moff and Co – and been rewarded with press screenings for which tickets have been made available. I hope this doesn’t screw it all up.

    As with you, I literally stumbled across it by accident – and now it’s all over tumblr like a rash. So – download tumblr saviour and tell it to ignore posts that have “spoiler” in them.

  3. avatar David W. Reynolds via Facebook says:

    To be (perhaps overtly) fair, perhaps they felt newer fans would hit this revelation at the end of the episode and have no idea what it was all about? This would give them a chance to backtrack and delve into DW history to understand better whats coming. On the other hand, we’d best get used to it: the net smells blood, and when that blood is DW 50th spoilers…

  4. I am the head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool.

    I have not read the spoiler. It’s on my site, I can see the backend, but I haven’t clicked on it. I have chosen not to. You could have as well.

    • Well Rich, no I couldn’t. Not when the title isn’t clear.

      The title is “Two Big Spoilers For Doctor Who’s Christmas Special, The Snowmen” on the day that two other spoilers were released. Naturally many people already aware of them is going to check out Brendan’s take on them. He’s got a good following.

      There is so much about this situation that could have been averted with clear writing, a better appreciation of what’s going on in the world of DW and generally a friendlier attitude (the attitude in the comments is quite unprofessional). Spoiler tags?

      Rich, you know we link to BC, you’ve commented back here from time to time and I’ve no axe to grind. But this surely shouldn’t have gone out in the form that it did.

      • What other two spoilers? I don’t see two other spoilers out there. Do you mean the TARDIS redesign? That’s in the print edition Radio Times, waiting to jump on you as you flick through. It’s on the official Who site. Hardly something I’d be blowing a warning horn over, is it?

        • Hey Brendon, thanks for taking the time to reply. Appreciate your clarifications.

          There’s been a massive discussion on spoilers among DW fandom over the past few years which you can’t have missed. Some people like to know everything. Many people prefer to avoid things until broadcast.

          I can guarantee you that if we’d published the BBC’s TARDIS redesign image without spoiler tags, we would have had emails and comments complaining. Ergo, if it is perceived as a spoiler (rather than a tease), then it is a spoiler. Maybe not as heavy a spoiler as the mystery voice artist or the thing we’re discussing here, but a spoiler nonetheless. And that makes three.

          I like your articles and I enjoyed reading that one – but the thing is you kind of just walk the reader into what is a massive spoiler without a real warning.

          Of course don’t overlook the fact that this piece is essentially me being annoyed and telling people to get offline. You do what you do on BC well and no one’s asking you to stop that. As a personal preference, on this occasion I’d have preferred more warning.

  5. If it is what I think it is I figutr that out about a month ago

  6. avatar Christian-Mark David Cawley via Facebook says:

    David W. Reynolds – you have a point to an extent, but that’s really for next year, or post Christmas, isn’t it?

  7. avatar David W. Reynolds via Facebook says:

    We’ll see! Hopefully your article will remind people to shut up. It’s one thing to be so excited about something you can’t keep it to yourself. It’s another altogether to do it for clicks and ad revenue. Not that anyones done that, mind you. ;)

  8. Bojay, care was taken with a big spoiler warning in the headline

    • avatar BOJAY says:

      Not so, Rich Johnston, not so, nor the case at all.

  9. avatar Matthew Littledyke says:

    Thanks for the heads up Christian It has probably ruined the enjoyment of waiting for it for a lot of people I’m glad to say I haven’t read it and can’t wait for it to air but those people responsible should lower their heads in shame.

  10. avatar Paddy says:

    I’m with Christian on this, for all the reasons in his comment above. The show/hide spoiler option like they use here would be the solution.. that way you can read a bit, figure out if its something you already know and if it isn’t, then decide if you want to know.

  11. avatar fractripro says:

    As soon as I read this post from Kasterborous that it regarded the snowmen and was a major anniversary connection – I worked it out. I then looked up the web site THAT IS MENTIONED ABOVE – to confirm. I would never have heard of that site otherwise and actually had to type doctor who into its search engine to find it. It categorically states that its a spoiler. You are complaining of a major spoiler yet…. you are promoting it.

    • There is no link in the article. No one compelled you to go looking. You did that yourself. Accept responsibility for your actions.

      Oh and in future, please post constructively or don’t bother.

  12. avatar fractripro says:

    Oh yeah… Kasterborous -You have a big spoiler warning regarding the voice of the snowmen BUT look at what’s tagged! Or WHO is tagged. Right underneath. This entire accusation against bleeding edge is both hypocritical and frankly stupid it reeks of jealousy.

    • What you point out is called an editorial error, something which I’ve just fixed.

      Something which BC Bleeding Cool (you meant that, right?) hasn’t yet done.

  13. avatar fractripro says:

    AND to anyone who read SPECULATION on Blogtor Who has now had it confirmed by YOU without a spoiler warning.

    • How have they? BW speculated on a lot of things. Did you actually read their post?

  14. I wrote that story. I’m the film and TV editor at the site. It’s my responsibility. And I don’t regret it for one second.

    I am not paid per page view, or “hit.” Nor was I doing this as a toy-throwing exercise because we weren’t invited – though I did make that point at the end with good reason that, judging from your reaction worked perfectly… I can’t say anymore, really. But do read between the lines if you wish…

    There was another side to it too. I was stressing that if a big Doctor Who news story happens – ie. a screening of an eagerly anticipated episode – I’m going to bring the readers the best value, most exciting piece I can.

    I don’t think spoilers are harmful if they’re marked clearly. The headline was a warning. The story opened with a warning. People would know what they’re getting into.

    Also, in just two weeks, everybody will be in a position to spoil this episode for the rest of their days. And they will. Complex, full, plot synopses will be published online – and the majority of viewers that this episode will ever get, those in the future, will be able to find any spoiler they want.

    I read spoilers online, regularly. Its debatable what effect this has on my personal enjoyment of a show – how could we test it? I can’t see the same thing twice, once with prior knowledge, once without. It’s always up to the reader if they want to click and read. I’d click. And read. End enjoy.

    I’m basically just trying to make the site into one I would visit as a user.

    • avatar BOJAY says:

      I don’t think anyone is questioning your intentions. Your site and work as editor is noted on an all around fine website. The issue is taking every precaution to protect those who wish to avoid spoilers as much as provide for those who wish to indulge in them. I think Christian’s point speaks to the reality of “one can never be to careful” about this issue, as people have passionate feelings about Doctor Who and their experience of it. This is quite obvious from the contents of this comments section.

  15. avatar fractripro says:

    Umm. Have you seen the article you are talking about? The spoiler is on the BOTTOM of a page headed by the word SPOILER. To read it you have to click on a link marked SPOILERS. It fulfills your criteria. I find your response ‘lame’ and uniformed. What of the spoiler reveal by this site? The voice of the snowmen is VISIBLE without clicking on ANYTHING. My observations are both valid and informed whereas yours are not. The article you are attacking fulfills your criteria whereas Kasterborous does not! That is stupid thinking. Instead of denigrating me (the word lame is offensive) perhaps you should both THINK and not defend something via hearsay and assumption.

  16. avatar Christine Grit says:

    This discussion is getting pretty awful. And no, I’m not referring to the main contenders here, as they manage to maintain a rather mature level in their arguments. But really, discussing whose actions are the most lame or stupid? I’m going to follow up on the suggestion to go off line until Christmas, and let me tell you it’s not because of any spoilers.

    • avatar BOJAY says:

      That’s sound and wise thinking, Christine Grit. This way, you avoid the spoilers (if that’s your wish), and the flame throwers, who embark upon these flights of fancy looking for a fight and just itching to be “offended” when someone calls them on it.

  17. avatar BOJAY says:

    Again fractripro, of course I actually read the article. My question is what article are you referring to? There are no spoiler spaces, nor any hide/reveal tags, and just saying “spoilers below” doesn’t meet any valid criteria. There was no link to click on to reveal the spoiler, again, it was just a matter of scrolling down.There is no hearsay or assumption involved here, just perhaps a bit of delusion on your part. Your starting a fire here by attacking Christian and Kasterborous is what’s offensive, not my calling you out for making lame statements. And note, I called out your statements, not you as a person, as lame. If the use of the word lame (as applied to your statements, and attack on Christian’s point of ire) offends you, than I make no apologies whatsoever. Your whole line of approach, and so-called position you take here is without substance. And for the record, I THINK just fine. It’s just a pity I’m responding to someone who obviously doesn’t feel at all compelled to follow any rational line of thought.

  18. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    This is really so silly! Everyone just buy some sea monkeys and enjoy life and our shared love of Doctor Who!

    • avatar BOJAY says:

      I understand your point of view and respect it. But for as hard as Kasterborous works, and for the care they take with this website and the comments/blogs section they maintain, an attack like the one made by this fractipro person is way out of line, and needed to be confronted. This person is the one who first threw out words like “stupid”, and made accusations of hypocrisy and jealousy against Christian and Kasterborous. He uses such inflammatory language, and then cries foul, and states that he is offended when called out on it. He needs to stop with the crying foul and witless replies here, and accept responsibility for being rude and tactless in the first place.

  19. Spoilers are and always will be an emotive topic.

    We’ve talked about this in the new podKast, out later in the week, and I think now is the time to draw a line under this. I’ve had my say, I’m delighted that certain others have spoken up, and as ever the world continues to turn.

    I’m off to watch my seamonkeys grow :)


  20. So Ian McKellen isn’t doing the voice of the Snowmen? That’s not a spoiler that’s more of a confirmation whose starring in it or have I got it wrong?

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