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article imageBBC confusion over Christmas episode of Doctor Who Confidential

By Mathew Wace Peck     Nov 30, 2011 in Entertainment
The BBC has caused confusion after contradicting claims from one of its producers that there is an unaired edition of its recently cancelled documentary series Doctor Who Confidential.
In October, Doctor Who Confidential (DWC) – which has been broadcast on BBC3 since 2005, and has accompanied nearly every new episode of Doctor Who since then – was cancelled by Zai Bennett, the channel’s controller, who said he wanted to concentrate on new original commissions.
The final episode of Doctor Who Confidential – titled Script to Screen – was broadcast on BBC3 on 1 October 2011, immediately following The Wedding of River Song, which ended the most recent series of Doctor Who on BBC1.
At the time, it was thought that no further episodes of the documentary series had been produced, meaning that there was no episode to accompany this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.
However, that belief has been put in doubt by an article published in the new issue of Doctor Who Magazine (DWM), Confidential’s executive producer, Gillane Seaborne, says that her team had filmed a Christmas documentary to accompany the Christmas day episode. She said: “The biggest regret is the episode of Confidential we’ve filmed for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, which now won’t be shown.”
The story has been picked up by the UK tabloid Sun, which claims that the scrapped episode was produced “at the predicted cost of £50,000”.
Further confusion over the “missing episode” has been generated by the Sun’s claim that the BBC knows nothing of Seaborne’s Christmas edition of the making-of documentary series, but that it would be broadcasting all remaining episodes. A spokesperson said: “While Doctor Who Confidential has been decommissioned, all existing episodes will be shown. But there is no Christmas special.”
Immediately following the news of the cancellation of DWC, an online petition, SaveDWC, was started in the hope of persuading the BBC to change its mind. To date, close to 56,000 people have added their signatures. The petition has been sent to the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust, and organisers have been told that they will receive a reply later this week.
Since 2004, Doctor Who Confidential has had unequalled access to Doctor Who, with its team always on hand to film the behind-the-scenes making of the science-fiction series. Within the UK, Confidential has gained a reputation for encouraging people to enter a careers in TV, radio and film production. One BBC producer, Marcus Wilson, confirmed this recently when he revealed: “My cousin wants to work in radio now, because he got really excited about an episode of Confidential where they looked at sound post-production.”
Writers of tomorrow
Earlier this year, Confidential ran a competition, aimed at British schoolchildren, to write a Doctor Who episode. The winning team of writers – from Oakley CE Junior School – had their story produced in Cardiff. The mini-episode, Death is the Only Answer – which featured Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, Nickolas Grace as Albert Einstein and an Ood – was broadcast as part of Confidential’s final episode. Seaborne told DWM that the competition had been such a huge success that they’d intended to repeat it next year.
Many people in the television industry have also made known their unhappiness at Bennett’s decision, including writer Neil Gaiman, actor Russell Tovey and senior production staff working on Doctor Who itself.
As reported by Digital Journal in October, the show’s head writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat said: “[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.”
Doctor Who’s current series producer, Marcus Wilson added: “It seems a shame to throw out a show that does so well. It gave people an idea of what working in the industry was like.”
Yesterday, organisers of the SaveDWC petition revealed: “The BBC Trust have acknowledged that they have received our letter [and] are now due to get in touch with us by this Friday.”
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