Thousands of people have signed an online petition to save a BBC Three documentary series that accompanies the Corporation’s flagship science-fiction drama.
The petition was set up after it emerged a couple of days ago via Twitter that this week’s episode of Doctor Who Confidential – When Time Froze – would be the last. The show’s producer, Zoe Rushton, tweeted on Wednesday that the show was not being renewed when Doctor Who returns in 2012, saying: “It’s a very sad day for me today.”
The decision was made by the BBC Three controller, Zai Bennett, who told theMediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival recently: “It’s about focusing my budget on 9 p.m. and 10.30 p.m.; those are the time slots that count. Budgets are tight, so we have to be sensible with the money we have”
Speaking to the Guardian, a spokesperson for the BBC said: “Doctor Who Confidential has been a great show for BBC3 over the years but our priority now is to build on original British commissions, unique to the channel.”
At the time of writing the petition has well in excess of 21,000 signatories, and the SaveDWC Twitter campaign already has more than 7,000 followers.
According to Digital Spy, hundreds of people have expressed their regret that the show has been axed, with Pablo Dillon summing up the majority view by saying that the cancellation was “a disgrace of a decision”.
Others who are supporting the campaign include the actor and presenter Russell Tovey – who plays Alonso Frame in Doctor Who and has been the narrator of the most recent series of Doctor Who Confidential – and the writers Neil Gaiman (who wrote The Doctor’s Wife) and Tom Macrae (The Girl Who Waited).
The cancellation is being blamed on the BBC's drive to cut budgets following a six-year freeze in the Corporation's license fee, which was announced by the UK ConDem goverment early this year. Doctor Who Confidentail has accompanied every series of Doctor Who since its return in 2005, and regularly tops the viewing charts for BBc Three. In January 2009, a special edition of the show, The Eleventh Doctor, was broadcast on BBC One, the channel that broadcasts Doctor Who itself. That episode, which announced Matt Smith as the actor who was to take over the role of the Doctor from David Tennant, drew an audience of over 7 million viewers.
This morning, SaveDWC tweeted: “Also spreading the word round about this petition is more crucial that ever today we can do good things today … We can do great stuff for the campaign and really get behind Doctor Who and Doctor Who Confidential today.”
And it's not just fans of Doctor Who who are disappointed at the decision to axe the show, but people wishing to work in the television industry. Ian Redman posted this comment via Facebook: "Doctor Who Confidential is easily the best show that currently airs on BBC Three. As someone who wants to work in the television industry, it's also been a great learning resource for me. I really don't want to see it end!"
Tonight sees the final episode of the current series of Doctor Who. The Wedding of River Song is written by series showrunner, Steven Moffat. It stars Matt Smith as the Doctor, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as Amy and Rory Pond and Alex Kingston as River Song. Tonight’s episode also sees the return of several other characters from Doctor Who’s recent past, including Winston Churchill (Ian McNiece), Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber), Dorium Maldovar (Simon Fisher-Becker) and Charles Dickens (Simon Callow). Callow first appeared in The Unquiet Dead in 2005, when Christopher Eccleston was playing the Doctor. That episode was written by Mark Gatiss, who appears as Gantok in tonight’s episode.
Meanwhile, Doctor Who Confidential will include Death is the Only Answer, the mini episode written by students from Oakley CE Junior School, which stars Matt Smith as the Doctor and Nicholas Grace as Albert Einstein.