Consuming Culture: 1-15 Jan 2020

I want to do more blogging this year. So one thing I’m going to do is to write about the cultural experiences that I have. My plan is to write short reviews of any films, plays, exhibitions and lectures that I go to. To start us off, here’s what I did in the first half of January.

Film: Last Christmas (Vue Islington, 2020-01-01)

Yes, this got some terrible reviews, but cheesy romcoms are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. This isn’t up to the standards of Four Weddings and a Funeral or Notting Hill, but I really enjoyed it. And I don’t care how much you judge me for that.

Art: Wonder Factory (Dalston Works, 2020-01-03)

This was weird. Fifteen rooms have been turned into Instagram-friendly art installations. They are of variable quality, but the best installations (like the marshmallow swimming pool) are very good. It’s only around until early February (and it seems they’re now only opening at the weekend) so you should get along to see it soon.

Film: Jojo Rabbit (Screen on the Green, 2020-01-05)

The Hitler Youth isn’t the most obvious subject for comedy, but this film manages to pull it off brilliantly. It’s obviously a very delicate balance but director, Taika Waititi, gets it spot on – while also playing a very funny imaginary Adolf Hitler. I see this has been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar; and that’s well-deserved.

VR: Doctor Who – Edge of Time (Other World, 2020-01-05)

Other World is a virtual reality arcade in Haggerston and currently, one of the VR experiences they are offering is the Doctor Who game, Edge of Time. Players are put in their individual pods and loaded up with all their VR equipment (headset, headphones and a controller for each hand) by staff before being left alone to help the Thirteenth Doctor save the universe. I confess I got a bit stuck trying to get the Tardis to dematerialise, but I really enjoyed myself and am very tempted to go back for another try.

Play: A Kind of People (Royal Court Theatre, 2020-01-06)

The Royal Court has a brilliant scheme where they make tickets for Monday evening performances available for £12 each. That price makes it very tempting to see plays that you know nothing about. And that’s what we did for this. We really had no idea what this play was about. It turns out that it’s an investigation of the various prejudices (racism, sexism, class snobbery, …) that bubble under the surface of British society. I’d recommend you go and see it, but it closes in a couple of days.

Meeting: Tech For UK Post-Election Debrief (Onfido Ltd, 2020-01-08)

I want to get along to more tech meet-ups this year and this was my first. Tech For UK is a group of techies who volunteer their time to build tools that increase democratic engagement in the UK. You can see some examples at (this includes my site – TwittElection). This meeting was a discussion about what the group had been doing during the election campaign and where they should focus their efforts in the future.

Art: Bridgit Riley (Hayward Gallery, 2020-01-15)

I want to make more use of my South Bank membership, and this was a free after-hours, members’ viewing of the exhibition. This is a retrospective of Riley’s whole career and, therefore, is a great introduction to the breadth of her work. She’s a fascinating artist (if one who occasionally produces art that can give you a bit of a headache). I recommend seeing the exhibition – but hurry, it closes on 26 January.


Doctor Who Festival

In 2013, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the BBC put on a big celebration at the Excel centre in London’s Docklands. They must have thought that it went well as this year they decided to do it all over again at the Doctor Who Festival which took place last weekend. Being the biggest Doctor Who fan I know, I was at both events and I thought it might be interesting to compare them.

Each event ran over three days (Friday to Sunday). I visited both events on the Sunday on the basis that there would be one more episode of the show to talk about. This was particularly important in 2013 when the 50th anniversary special was broadcast on the Saturday night.


Let’s start with the basics. This years event was more expensive than the 2013 one. And the price increases were both large and seemingly random. Here’s a table comparing the prices.

Standard Tardis
Adult Child Family Adult Child Family
2013 £45.00 £20.00 £104.00 £95.50 £44.25 £218.00
2015 £68.00 £32.35 £171.00 £116.00 £52.75 £293.00
Increase 51.11% 61.75% 64.42% 21.47% 19.21% 34.40%

You’ll see that some prices “only” went up by about 20% while others increased by an eye-watering 65%. There’s obviously money to be made in these events. And, equally obviously, Doctor Who fans are happy to pay any price for entrance to these events. I don’t know about you, but those increases over two years where inflation has hovered around 0% scream “rip-off” to me.

You’ll notice that I’ve quoted prices for two different types of ticket. There are standard tickets and “Tardis” tickets. Tardis tickets give you certain extras. We’ll look at those next.

Tardis Tickets

I’ll admit here that I went for the Tardis ticket both times. The big advantage that this ticket gives you is that in the big panels (and we’ll see later how those panels are the main part of the days) the front eight or so tickets are reserved for Tardis ticket holders. So if you have a Tardis ticket you are guaranteed to be close enough to see the people on  the stage. Without a Tardis ticket you can be at the far end of the huge hall where you might be able to make out that some people are on the stage, but you’ll be relying on the big video screens to see what is going on.

To me, that’s the big advantage of the Tardis ticket. Does it justify paying almost double the standard ticket price? I’m not sure. But you get a couple of other advantages. You get a free goodie bag. In 2013, that contained a load of tat (postcards, stickers, a keyfob, stuff like that) that I ended up giving away. This year we got the show book (which was pretty interesting and very nearly worth the £10 they were charging for it) and a t-shirt (which was being sold on the day for £25). So the 2015 goodie bag was a massive improvement on the 2013 one.

Tardis ticket-holders also got access to a special lounge were you could relax and partake of free tea, coffee and biscuits. In 2013 this was in a private area away from the rest of the show. This year it was a cordoned off corner of the main exhibition hall which didn’t seem like quite so much of a haven of calm.

Main Panels

The main structure of the day is made up of three big discussion panels that are held in a huge room. Each panel is run twice during the day, but when you buy your ticket you know which time you’ll be seeing each panel.

Each panel has people who are deeply involved in the show. In 2013 we had the following panels:

  • Danny Hargreaves of Real SFX talking about the special effects on the show.
  • Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy talking about playing the Doctor. I think Tom Baker also came to this panel on one of the three days.
  • Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Stephen Moffat talking about the show.

This year we had:

  • Kate Walsh of Millennium FX (who make a lot of the prosthetics for the show) talking to Mark Gatiss.
  • Stephen Moffat, Toby Whithouse and Jamie Mathieson talking about writing for the show. This panel had different writers on each of the three days.
  • Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez, Ingrid Oliver and Stephen Moffat talking about the show. Jenna Coleman was only on this panel on Sunday.

Both sets of panels were equally interesting. Having the former Doctors taking apart in the 50th anniversary year made a lot of sense.

Exhibition Hall

The other main part of the event was an exhibition hall where various things were taking place. I think this was disappointing this year. Here are some comparisons:

Sets from the show

As far as I can remember, in 2013 there was only the entrance to Totter’s Yard and the outside of a Tardis. This year there was Davros’ hospital room, Clara’s living room and the outside of a Tardis (although this clearly wasn’t a “real” Tardis – the font on the door sign was terrible). So there were more sets this year, but I rather questioned their description of Clara’s living room as an “iconic” set.


There were a lot of opportunities to buy stuff, but it seemed to me that there were rather fewer stalls there this year. Merchandise seemed to fall into two categories. There was stuff that you would have been better off buying from Amazon (DVDs, board games, books, stuff like that). And there was really expensive stuff. I really can’t justify spending £60 or £80 for incredibly intricate replicas of props from the show or £200(!) for a copy of one of the Doctor’s coats.

There was one big exception to the “cheaper on Amazon” rule. The BBC shop had a load of classic DVDs on sale for £6 each.

In 2013 I bought a couple of postcards. This year I managed to resist buying anything. But I appeared to be rather unusual in that – there were a lot of people carrying many large bags of stuff.

Other Stages

Both years, around the edge of the main hall there were areas where other talks and workshops were taking place. This years seemed slightly disappointing. For example, on one stage in 2013 I saw Dick Maggs giving an interesting talk about working with Delia Derbyshire to create the original theme tune. The equivalent area this year had a group of assistant directors giving a list of the people who work on set when an episode of the show is being made.

In 2013, the centre of this room was given over to an area where many cast members from the show’s history were available for autographs and photos. This year, that’s where Clara’s living room was set up. In fact the four cast members who were in the panel I mentioned above were the only cast members who were involved in this event at all. I realise that it makes more sense for there to be lots of cast members involved in the 50th anniversary celebrations, but surely there were some other current cast members who could have turned up and met their fans.

Also in this hall was an area where the Horror Channel (who are the current home of Classic Doctor Who in the UK) were showing old episodes. There was something similar in 2013, but (like the Tardis lounge) it was away from the main hall. Moving this and the Tardis lounge to the main hall made me think that they were struggling a bit to fill the space.

In Summary

This year’s event was clearly a lot more expensive than the one in 2013 and I think attendees got rather less for their money. All in all I think it was slightly disappointing.

The big panels are clearly the centrepiece of the event and they are well worth seeing. But I think you need a Tardis ticket in order to guarantee getting a decent view. Oh, yes you can get in the ninth row without a Tardis ticket, but you’d be competing with a lot of people for those seats. You’d spend the whole day queuing to stand a chance of getting near the front.

I don’t know what the BBC’s plans for this event are, but it’s clearly a good money-spinner for them and I’d be surprised if they didn’t do it again either next year or in 2017. And the fans don’t really seem to mind how much they pay to attend, so it’ll be interesting to see how the next one is priced.

I think that the big panels still make the event worth attending, but there’s really not much else that I’m interested in. So I’m undecided as to whether I’d bother going again in the future.

Were you are the event? What did you think of it? How much money did you spend in total?


Doctor Who Series 7

As far as I can see, the most detailed information that we currently have about the broadcast dates of series 7 of Doctor Who is in this tweet from @bbcdoctorwho.

There will be 6 episodes this year, including the Xmas Special. Then 8 next year. Jenna’s character will first be seen at Xmas.

But it seems that people are taking that information and constructing the most bizarre theories about the forthcoming broadcasts. There are two particular theories that I want to address. One that I’m almost certain is wrong and one that there’s just no evidence to support.

The first of these is summed up in the title of this article – “Liam Cunningham To Star In ‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Series”. Some people seem to assume that the second half of series 7 will be the only Doctor Who that we’re getting in 2013 and that, therefore, it will contain the 50th anniversary celebrations. I think that this is very unlikely.

When it was announced that series 7 would be moved to the autumn (rather than starting in spring as it has done every year since 2005) Steven Moffat was quick to explain that this was because he saw the show as best suited to winter. In Doctor Who Magazine he wrote this:

Doctor Who in the summer? All that running down tunnels, with torches, and the sunlight streaming through your windows and bleaching out the screen? All those barbecues and children playing outside, while on the telly there are green monsters seething in their CGI-enhanced lairs? It’s just not right is it? Be honest.

For me, as a kid, when the afternoon got darker and there was a thrill of cold in the air, I knew that even though summer was over, the TARDIS was coming back!

I’m the same age as Moffat, so I remember Doctor Who as a winter show and I completely understand his reasons for wanting to move it.

If we see Doctor Who as a winter show (at least until the next showrunner wants to move it) then it’s obvious that we’ll be getting more Doctor Who later in 2013. It’s very likely that season 8 will be broadcast in late 2013 and early 2014. And that will be the obvious place for most of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Doctor Who was first broadcast on 23rd November 1963. And guess what? 23rd November 2013 will be a Saturday. I’d be astonished if an episode of series 8 wasn’t broadcast on that date.

Oh, and that’s another point. There has been some news over the last few days of various past Doctors saying that they haven ‘t been invited to take part in the 50th anniversary celebrations. Well, that’s probably because Moffat and his team haven’t started detailed planning for series 8 yet – they’re still working on series 7. There’s still plenty of time for people to be invited to take part. Or perhaps they won’t be. I trust Moffat to give us a great anniversary whether or not it includes previous Doctors.

So that’s the first error. Series 7 will not be the 50th anniversary series. That’s not to say that it won’t contain pointers to the anniversary – but the main event will be in the first half of series 8.

The other question I’ve seen people discussing is whether series 7 will be split in the same way that series 6 was. Doctor Who TV (an unofficial news site) says ” it looks like this format will be continued once again into Series 7″. But I can’t see any evidence for this.

Ok, I can find one piece of evidence for this. Another piece from Doctor Who TV says:

The BBC has confirmed rumours that Doctor Who Series 7 will be split over two years. They will only air six episodes in 2012, the remainder in 2013.

But that turns out to be paraphrasing Steven Moffat who says “six of them will come out this year, including the Christmas special and then eight in the next year”. That’s a split, I suppose, as the series is being broadcast over two years, but it’s not necessarily a split in the same way that series 6 was split.

In 2011 there were almost three months between the two sections of series 6. “A Good Man Goes To War” was broadcast on 4th June and “Let’s Kill Hitler” was broadcast on 27th August. I don’t think there’s any evidence that there will be a similar split in series 7. It’s possible for all fourteen episodes to be broadcast weekly and still fit in with the information we already have. If the first episode is broadcast on 24th November then episode 5 would be on 22nd December. Assuming the Christmas special is on 25th December as it always is, the next episode could be as soon as 5th January.

To be honest, I don’t know if that’s the plan. It’s possible that the first part of the series could start sooner than that and that the second part could start later. I just wanted to demonstrate that the series could be broadcast without a split and still fit all the information we currently have.

It’s likely that even the BBC don’t know for sure. I’m sure that they have rough plans for the schedules around the end of the year, but things aren’t likely to get confirmed until much closer to the actual broadcast times.

This is all speculation, of course. I’m happy to admit that it is. But so are the stories that I’ve linked to (and many others like them). The people writing these stories don’t have any more information than we do. They’re just extrapolating from a few facts. And in many cases they extrapolate wildly and end up in completely the wrong place.


Some Doctor Who Theories (Revisited)

Back in May, after two episodes of Doctor Who series 6, I made some predictions about the rest of the series. Now that the series is over, it’s time to go back over those predictions to see how I did.

There were nine of them.

  1. The eye-patch lady is going to be important.
    Excellent start. The eye-patch lady was Madame Kovarian who turned out to be the major baddie of the series.
  2. Craig Owens will be back.
    Another score. Of course I went on to make some suggestions about the Silence which turned out to be completely untrue. But Craig came back. Therefore I get a point.
  3. Amy is having some kind of “Schroedinger pregnancy”
    I was kind of on the right lines here. But I’m not going to give myself the point.
  4. Amy’s daughter is the little girl from the spacesuit.
    Yep. Another point for me.
  5. The little girl either is a Time Lord or has somehow acquired some Time Lord attributes.
    And another. And I even went on to correctly predict why she acquired those attributes.
  6. The Silence are interested in the little girl because of her Time Lord abilities.
    No, not really. The Silence were interested in Melody mainly because they wanted her to kill the Doctor. And I don’t think any of that hinged on her Time Lord abilities.
  7. It was River in the spacesuit at the beginning of The Impossible Astronaut.
    Yes yes yes. In the middle of the series I thought I’d got this wrong. I thought that it would be young Melody in the spacesuit. That would still give me the point on a technicality, but I was glad to see that it really was the older River.
  8. The little girl will grow up to be River Song.
    Really quite proud of myself for getting that one.
  9. Idris is one of River’s earlier regenerations. And that’s when River and the Doctor marry.
    Completely and utterly wrong on all counts. Of course, I would never have made the second part of that prediction if I had known the title of episode 13 at the time.

So six out of nine. Not at all bad. Maybe I should apply for a job as a writer on the show.

What did you think of the seires finale? I enjoyed it very much as I was watching it, but having slept on it I’m not sure how much I liked the resolution with the Teselecta. I think it leads to, at least, three plot holes.

  1. I’m unconvinced that the Teselecta could fake the regeneration energy that we saw surrounding the Doctor as he died.
  2. If the Doctor who met River in the Pyramid was the Teselecta, then why does time start to move again when they touch? It’s not the Doctor and River touching.
  3. As the Doctor didn’t realyl die at Lake Silencio, why did time start moving correctly? Surely time can’t be fooled by a simple trick like that.

Of course, it really doesn’t pay to look at most science fiction as closely as that. Probably best to just site back and let the story wash over you.

I’m now looking forward to the next seires, with the Doctor working underground.


Some Doctor Who Theories

We’re two episodes into the new series of Doctor Who and from what we’ve seen so far the arc plot is going to be even more complex than last year. Here are a few theories that have occurred to me over the last couple of days. They aren’t spoilers in any meaningful way as I don’t know any more than anyone who has seen the first two episodes of the series and has spend an unreasonable number of waking hours trawling the internet for clues about what is going on.

However, you might still want to avoid the rest of the post on the off-chance that I get something right.

Let’s start with a few obvious things:

  1. The eye-patch lady is going to be important. It’s possible, of course, that she just appears in Day of the Moon as an expression of Amy’s confusion in the children’s home. But if that was the case, I’m pretty sure that Frances Barber wouldn’t have taken the job. She might be keen to be in Doctor Who, but she wouldn’t do it for a single ten second appearance. She’ll definitely be back. And she’ll be important.
  2. Craig Owens will be back. Ok, we already know that James Corden will be returning but it’s now almost certain that the abandoned spaceship upstairs from his flat was a Silence vessel so I think that he’ll be playing Craig again.
  3. Amy is having some kind of “Schroedinger pregnancy”. Whether or not she is pregnant won’t be resolved until the probabilities are collapsed by some action that the TARDIS crew take later on in the season. And my suspicion is that she will will be pregnant – for reasons that will be clearer after my next few points.

Then, a few theories that are a bit more out there, but still supported by some evidence:

  1. Amy’s daughter is the little girl from the spacesuit. We’ve seen photos that strongly imply that.
  2. The little girl either is a Time Lord or has somehow acquired some Time Lord attributes (like the ability to regenerate). This will be due to Amy and Rory travelling in the TARDIS for so long. Amy’s fears about the baby having a “time head” will prove to be prophetic.
  3. The Silence are interested in the little girl because of her Time Lord abilities. Remember what River said about Time Lord bodies at the start of The Impossible Astronaut.
  4. It was River in the spacesuit at the beginning of The Impossible Astronaut. This ties in with what she said about killing the best man she ever knew. Not sure about this. There were no surviving witnesses who knew who it was – so how would she be convicted and imprisoned?

And some stuff that is pretty much guesswork:

  1. The little girl will grow up to be River Song. But would that invalidate the ending of Forest of the Dead?
  2. There’s an upcoming episode called “The Doctor’s Wife”. And there’s a character in that called Idris, who is described as an old friend with a new face. That’ll be one of River’s earlier regenerations. And, given the title of the episode, I’m going to guess that this is when The Doctor and River marry (or, at least, come as close as they ever do to marrying).

That’s nine predictions. It’ll be interesting to come back after the end of the series how close I got.

What do you think? Any alternative theories?


Neil Gaiman Explains Doctor Who

Neil Gaiman was asked whether people need to know about the show’s previous history before watching the new series of Doctor Who. This was his reply:

No, look, there’s a blue box. It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can go anywhere in time and space and sometimes even where it’s meant to go. And when it turns up, there’s a bloke in it called The Doctor and there will be stuff wrong and he will do his best to sort it out and he will probably succeed ’cause he’s awesome. Now sit down, shut up, and watch ‘Blink’.

Watch the video of the panel where he says it.


Doctor Who Experience

Series 6 of Doctor Who starts on Saturday 23rd April. So I think that’s a perfect day to visit the Doctor Who Experience at Olympia.

Yes, it’s expensive (adult tickets are £20) and, if previous Dr Who exhibitions are any guide) it won’t be worth the money. But if we get a large enough group together then I’m sure we can make it fun.

I’ve bought a ticket for 10:30. Why not buy a ticket and join me. Later on, we’ll retire to the Hand & Flower for lunch.

See for more details. I’ve set up a Facebook event which you could RSVP to. Or just let me know you’re coming by commenting here. Or just buy a ticket and turn up on the day.

Obviously, feel free to pass this on to anyone else who might be interested.


Matt Smith: The Eleventh Doctor

It’s been a day since the announcement, so I thought I’d bore you all with my thoughts on Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor.

When I first heard the news I though “who?”, like most people, but then I looked him up on the web and realised that I knew who he was.

Yes, he’s young. But I don’t see that as an insurmountable obstacle. His work in things like “Party Animals” and the Sally Lockhart dramas prove that he’s a capable young actor. And I trust Stephen Moffat to do the right thing. So, all in all, my response is “This could work. Let’s wait and see”.

One of the interesting things about this announcement is how far in advance it has been made. I know it made sense for David Tennant to announce that he was leaving the show along with Russell T Davies, but did we really need to know who was going to be the next Doctor a year before he appears on screen? And that appearance is likely to be no more than thirty seconds of blinking and gurning. It’s likely to be fifteen months before we really see how he works in the part.

I can remember all of the new Doctor announcements back to Tom Baker. And I’m sure we’ve never known who the new Doctor is so far in advance. Usually, I think it’s more like four or six months. David Tennant was announced in April 2005 and appeared on screen briefly in July. His first full episode was in December – eight months after the announcement. With Smith, we’ll have to wait almost twice as long. I realise that the production team wanted to put and end to all of the speculation and that they really didn’t want to keep the secret once filming starts later this year, but surely building up the anticipation for this long has a high chance of backfiring on them. It also has a chance of rather overshadowing David Tennant’s last appearances as the Doctor – which would be a shame.

Of course, this is pretty much all guesswork. Anything could happen in the next fifteen months. As I said above – the best approach is just to wait and see and to not engage in pointless speculation.


What I Did At Mashed 08

I was at Mashed 08 at Alexandra Palace yesterday. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go back today, but I’ve made some progress on my project from home.

It was a successful day all in all though. Here’s what I did.

  • Watched Jonathan Tweed talk about the BBC /programmes api. If I hadn’t already had an idea of what I was going to do I would have been very tempted to play with this. A year ago, I was working for the BBC on one of the projects that underlies /programmes, so it’s great to see it being given a public airing.
  • Watched the Guardian’s Damian Carrington talk about what the Guardian’s enviroment web team are hoping to inspire people into doing. Well, to be honest, I sat in his talk whilst getting my wireless connection working. Sorry Damian.
  • Met up with a fellow Perl hacker. Last year the venue was full of Perl hackers. Shame there were so few there this year. I suspect many of the cooler kids were at Interesting instead – note to organisers: having two events like this on the same day is all a bit silly.
  • Had an interesting conversation with someone from the BBC who is working on the next version of the Radio iPlayer. It sounds as though following the release of this new version, my BBC streams page will be redundant. Alternatively, it might be easy to make it far more useful. And I’ll be able to retire all the grungy old HTML scraping code.
  • Had an interesting conversation with the O’Reilly UK people. Might be some announcements coming out of that in a couple of months. Oh, and I might have opened myself up to lots of hassle about writing another book.
  • Watched Doctor Who on a huge screen. In the wrong aspect ratio. Honestly, you’d thing that if there was one organisation who understood aspect ratios then it would be the BBC.

And despite socking up most of the day doing all of those things, I also managed to get stuff done on my own project and the first draft of Political Web is now online. It doesn’t do most of the things that I want it to do yet, but it’s a good start. Have a play and let me know how it goes.

Update: I should, of course, reiterate that what I’ve done so far on Political Web is largely just to repackage stuff that’s available from from They Work For You. I have plans to add other stuff soon(ish).

Update: Having just got to a Windows PC for the first time for days and tried using Political Web in IE6, I see that it doesn’t work for some reason. Probably some Javascript glitch. I’ll try to look at it in more detail later on. But in the meantime, use Firefox – you know it makes sense.


Russell T Davies to Leave Doctor Who

We all knew it would happen sometime (not even John Nathan-Turner went on forever) and there have been rumours flying around for a while, but yesterday the BBC confirmed that Russell T Davies will be stepping down as executive producer of Doctor Who. He’ll stay on for the four specials to be broadcast next year but will be gone before the show’s fifth series in 2010.

I don’t think anyone can deny that Davies’ run of the show has been phenomenally successful. Ok, actually, I know that people can (and do) deny that, but a moment’s reflection will hopefully demonstrate the stupidity of that opinion. Over the last four years Davies has resurrected Doctor Who and turned it into one of the most successful BBC programmes of all time. People have warm nostalgic feelings for the “old Doctor Who”, but it was never anywhere near as successful as this new version. Of course there have been some dodgy new episodes (quite often in the episodes written by Davies himself) but no-one can doubt that it was largely Davies’ vision of the show that has made it the success it is today.

I’m not as in tune with Doctor Who fandom as I used to be. But from what I’ve seen there seem to be two main objections to Davies tenure on the programme:

1/ It’s not as good as it used to be

This is, to put it plainly, bollocks. Certainly the old series produced more than it’s fair share of top quality TV, but if you actually sit down and watch the old series (and I mean a whole series, not just your favourite stories) you’ll quickly realise that there was a lot of rubbish there too.

A related complaint is that too much has changed – from the format of the shows (largely single 45 minute episodes as opposed to four 25 minute episodes) to the emphasis on London (or, rather, Cardiff pretending to be London) or the “soap opera” aspects of bringing in the companions’ families. Well, yes, things have changed. But the audience has changed too and people want different things from their Saturday evening drama. Yes, it might annoy the die-hard Who fans or the science fiction audience. But it’s not made for them. If the BBC relied on pleasing those people then there’s no way the show would have been as successful as it has been.

2/ Davies is gay, and therefore the spawn of the devil

Amazing as it seems in the twenty-first century, this is the second most common complaint about the new series that I’ve heard. Yes, Davies is gay. People are. And they don’t hide it any more. And it’s a perfectly normal part of society. Deal with it.

Davies is handing over Stephen Moffat. Fans of the show should be pleased with this as Moffat has written some of the most popular recent episodes – The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace and Blink (surely forty-five of the best minutes of TV ever broadcast). Older TV fans will also remember his earlier work like Press Gang and Joking Apart. And, in common with Davies, he seems to be a long-time fan of Doctor Who. The BBC story quotes him as saying:

I applied before but I got knocked back ‘cos the BBC wanted someone else. Also I was seven.

Interesting times ahead for Doctor Who. Moffat has a big task ahead of him following in Davies’ footsteps. But I can’t think of anyone else who I’d rather see taking over.

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