In news that even the Daleks will be frustrated about, the third episode of Doctor Who‘s eighth season has now been leaked onto the Internet. Titled Robots of Sherwood, the episode is a monochrome rough cut and is reportedly lacking its finished visual effects sequences.
As many of us know, the BBC’s time vaults were infiltrated back in July, when an unprotected ‘shared’ folder – said to contain the first five Series Eight scripts and a number of complete episodes – went public, leading to a mass download of copyrighted material, and every television producer’s worst nightmare. Apparently, the folder had been created for a chap called Marcelo Camargo at Marc Drei Productions, who had been tasked with some sort of subtitling duties for the Time Lord’s latest adventures.
Although the BBC was quick to plug the leak in the good ship Camargo, it appeared the damage had already been done, and within hours, the internet was awash with early episode reviews and high profile spoilers. At first, it seemed that the only video file to have been pirated was the series opener Deep Breath, as nobody appeared to have seen or shared anything pertaining to the other episodes, (other than plot details from the five leaked scripts.)
However, the situation was turned on its head when, out of the blue, Series 8’s second episode Into the Dalek mysteriously appeared on Pirate Bay. And now, this week, we have Robot of Sherwood doing the rounds in the Doctor Who underbelly.
The more this situation develops, I can’t help but think of Judi Dench in 2012’s Skyfall, and her reaction when the identities of government secret agents were uploaded onto YouTube, along with a chilling message: “Five more. Every week. Think on your sins.” Cool and detached as ever, the resilient Dench picks up the phone and says, “Tanner – he’s posted the first five names. Their cover’s blown!”
It may sound a little far-fetched, but the question has to be asked – is someone releasing these episodes periodically for a reason? Could the periodic, but intentional, sharing of these episodes be some sort of attack on the BBC? After all, as TorrentFreak points out, the video files all follow the same naming convention, which suggests that they were all obtained by the same person at the same time. Absurd as the ‘targeted attack’ theory may sound, the idea that so many scripts and episodes could find their way into the public domain is astounding in itself. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the scale of the leak is almost unrivalled in television terms, (although I’m sure there must be a number of similar examples.)
I guess we will have to wait and see how the rest of this sad situation pans out. In the meantime, let’s look forward to this Saturday, when we can watch the Twelfth Doctor for the first time in all his high definition, Crombie-wearing glory!