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article imageSteven Moffat blasts BBC decision to axe Doctor Who Confidential

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 24, 2011 in Entertainment
Steven Moffat, the executive producer and head writer of Doctor Who, has criticised the BBC for cancelling the documentary series that has accompanied the science-fiction drama since its return to TV screens in 2005.
Writing in his monthly “Production Notes” column for Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat said, of the decision to axe Doctor Who Confidential (DWC): “[It] seems hard to grasp. All shows have their time, and all shows end, but not, in all sanity, while people still watch and love them […] I’m not supposed to say it, but I’m going to anyway: bad day, bad decision.”
The decision was taken earlier this month by the controller of BBC3, Zai Bennett, who has remained tightlipped since the announcement. Following the outcry, a BBC spokesperson was quoted by the Guardian, saying, “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.”
Many of those commissions have been reality-type programmes such as Hotter Than My Daughter, Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum and Hot Couples. It’s currently unclear whether this is the type of commission the spokesperson is referring to, or whether resources are to be directed towards new drama such as The Fades, which comes to the end of its first-series six-episode run this week, but which the BBC have so far not publicly committed to continuing with.
Doctor Who Confidential is one of BBC3’s most-watched programmes, consistently receiving in excess of 500,000 viewers. It is also one of the most-requested programmes on BBC iPlayer. Many of those criticising the decision have done so citing the educational side of the show and its place in encouraging young people to get involved in all aspects of television programming.
Within hours of the BBC’s decision, an online petition was set up by the SaveDWC campaign, which, to date, has garnered in excess of 47,000 signatures.
Industry support
Those supporting the SaveDWC campaign include the writers Neil Gaiman (Stardust) and Tom Macrae (Mile High) and the actor and presenter Russell Tovey (Being Human) – who also plays Alonso Frame in Doctor Who and narrated of the most recent series of Doctor Who Confidential.
Moffat points out in his article the importance of DWC and praises the “inspired and visionary leadership” of its executive producer, Gillane Seaborne. In particular, he highlights the recent “Script to Screen” project run by the show to encourage schoolchildren to get involved in television writing. The result of this UK nation-wide competition was a Doctor Who mini-episode, Death is the Only Answer, which was written by pupils of Oakley CE Junior School and broadcast as part of the most recent series.
He says that Doctor Who Confidential provided a “magic moment when television opened up and told so many children ‘Yes, you can do it now.’”
Moffat describes the day that he, Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and Doctor Who producer Marcus Wilson visited the winners of DWC’s writing competition: “[F]or once we weren’t visitors from the impossible unattainable world of television – because they’d been told they could be part of it too, and they’d even seen it happen […] among all those children who took part in ‘Script to Screen’, possibilities opened and futures changed. Tell me what is more important than that.”
He also points to Doctor Who specifically as being the reason why he and others entered their television professions. “When I was a kid, Doctor Who made me want to see behind the scenes. Seeing behind the scenes made me never want to leave, and one day, incredibly, got me the job of a lifetime. It did the same for [former Doctor Who showrunner] Russell [T Davies] and [Tenth Doctor] David [Tennant].”
Moffat – who co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s new [i]Tintin[/i] movie – and Davies (Queer as Folk, Torchwood) are two of the most sought-after writers in the industry. Gaiman – another writer who cites his career to the influence of the long-running science-fiction drama series – recently fulfilled a lifelong ambition by writing an episode of Doctor Who, entitled The Doctor’s Wife.
Smith is currently filming the Moffat-penned 2011 Doctor Who Christmas special, which will be followed by a further 13 episodes to be broadcast later in 2012. Moffat is also working on plans for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, which will take place in 2013.
More about Steven moffat, Doctor Who, doctor who confidential bbc, zai bennett, Doctor who magazine
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