Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Day That Changed Series 6

The news that series 6 is to be split in to two halves seems to have caused a lot of debate amongst the fans, and with the amount of messages I have received so far, I thought it best to address it in a post rather than squeezing all the pro's and cons into 140 characters.

The main concerns people seem to be having is worries that the show may be suffering behind the scenes. We have been assured that the decision was Moffats and that it is part of a larger plan to make Series 6 even bigger and better, but is this really the case?

Doctor Who has handled so many cliffhangers over the years, but putting a 4 month gap between them was never needed. We will no doubt never find out the real reason behind the split, but the news that Moffat just trundled up to the head honcho's over at the BBC and said he wanted to split the series in two for the sake of a cliffhanger just doesnt seem to sit right.

It has been rumoured for a while now that the BBC want to move Doctor Who to an Autumn schedule, and this move could be paving the way and testing the waters, and see how it works in a new slot at a later time of year, but is it really needed? Or for that matter, is it really wanted?

Todays poll is to find out what people think about the split, but so far the comments I have been receiving are not reflecting the votes. It seems most people who have tweeted me are worried about what is going on behind the scenes, and they could have good reason.

After series 5 aired, the press were quick to jump on the show and say it was failing. Ratings took a mid season dip, as they have done every year since the show came back, but what they werent so keen to report on was the record braking HD and iPlayer ratings, which saw episodes of Doctor Who become the highest viewed show on both platforms, evening out the ratings so that they were on par with the rest of the series'.

Most fans were disgruntled with the show constantly jumping around the schedules and felt that that had a detrimental effect on the show. It also faced stiff competition from the Rugby, World Cup and Britains Got Talent. But would moving it to the Autumn mean it is more readily available to a wider audience? Taking into account the BBC usually runs Merlin in its Saturday Autumn slot, with X Factor dominating the ITV weekend schedules, is there room for Doctor Who in the Autumn?

But what about the fans? What do we get out of a split series, Spring/Autumn slot, that we dont already get? The pros to this, as Moffat has stated, is that we never have to wait more than a few months before we get a fix of new Who. The plans so far, as I understand it, are that the show will air April-May, September-October and then at Christmas. We arent losing out on the number of episodes that we get to see overall, and we have less of a wait between episodes. That has to be a good thing.

The worry with this though, is that many people are feeling that this will pave the way for an eventual cut of the series down to 6 episodes. There is so much talk recently of license fee cuts, BBC takeovers and whatever else, that perhaps the integrity of the show and the quality of the episodes can only be maintained in the long run with shorter series runs? Obviously if that happens it wont be until at least 2012, but it is something that fans are worrying that this is being set up for.

Another downside to the split series is that Moffat seems to have a major plot line in mind that will obviously need to be addressed in shorter spaces of time. Does this mean then, that we will lose those great mid season adventure episodes such as Vincent and the Doctor, that don't fit directly into the overall series arc? Is this a compromise worth making? Should Doctor Who become more like Children of Earth in format? Of course there is nothing stopping the team putting in these stand alone episodes, but in a series that will comprise of 7/6 episode slots, would they just stick out like a sore thumb?

But what of the pros? Doctor Who is one of the BBC's flagship shows, and also one of its biggest earners, both domestically and abroad. It is unlikely that they are planning on putting this cash cow out to pasture just yet. Despite the 'official' reasons that have been given, I have every faith that for whatever reason the BBC and Moffat have made this choice, it is to secure the future of the franchise.

An Autumn move could see a considerable rise in figures, and in turn revenue for the show. Darker nights and higher audience shares in the Autumn/Winter slots are common, and if the BBC can avoid a scheduling disaster this could prove to be a winning move for the show which means we get to keep it on our screens for even longer. The BBC dont advertise, so they dont make money off of the number of people who watch, but a higher audience share means that overseas sales and merchandise income is likely to rise along with it. if this is the case, then the BBC will want to keep it going for as long as possible.

Many people have felt that a split series will keep the show fresh. Keeping interest and momentum running for 13 weeks among general viewers is no easy task, but cutting the series in half and showing it twice in a year is an easy way of keeping the fans wanting more. Little and often, as they say.

Whatever the split series means for the show, and whether it will be a one off, happen every year or just there to ease a transition to an Autumn slot, for now I think it is safe to say that the show is in no danger. Tides can turn quickly and circumstances change often, but with production on series 7 already in the pipeline as well as the move to the new BBC Drama Village in 2012, it would seem that in whatever format, the show is here to stay for at least another few series. What format and schedule that may take though is anyones guess. It is worth asking though to those who are unsure or unwelcoming of a move to the Autumn or a split series, if it is worth the hassle if it means that we all get to keep our favourite show on the air that little bit longer into the future.


  1. I don't understand the downside to this split, I think that it is awesome news and will work very well. We will get a big cliffhanger (my bet it's to do with River), then the summer holidays to speculate before returning in the autumn and finishing at Halloween :D

    Doom and gloomers will always find something to moan at thou :(

    X-Factor doesn't start until Nov next year, so that argument isn't worth even discussing, but I am wondering what Merlin will do.

  2. "doom & gloomers will always find something to moan at though"

    No need for that comment IMO.

    Some will embrace it, some will hate it & others will understand there's more to it than a school holiday break, especially as the show isn't just for kids.

    Personally I feel it's partly as Moffat is spreading himself too thinly with this & Sherlock.

    Whether I'm right it wrong is moot, but I REALLY don't want a mid season split.
    This isn't America, we don't have sweeps, so a proper 13 week run, at 7pm is just what the Doctor (and fans) ordered.

  3. I agree with sandi. Sorry, but some fans will moan and they ought to remember that until five years ago, we didn't even have a show to moan about. So, I'm sorry Fifth Doctor, the comment was spot on.

    Be open-minded. And, If for one, can't wait to see what Moffat and team come up with.

  4. Sorry you don't like my comment thefifthdoctor, it wasn't my intention to upset anyone. I'm just a little fed up of some people constantly being down on the show, that is who I am referring to.

    I don't see how Moffat is spreading himself thin I'm afraid. RTD managed 3 shows, thou I feel that S1&2 of TW could have possibly benefited from some more time from him he did a great job. Moffat only has this and Sherlock, which has his wife, mother in law and Gatiss as part of the bts team as well.

    I really don't think he's spreading himself thin at all. Take a look at what Howard Overman is juggling at the moment...I can understand saying he's taken too much on at present, but not Moff.

    I'm so excited by the split, Autumnal Who is an ideal thing imo. What family wants to sit in front of the TV at 6/7pm on a blazing hot June evening for the finale when they could watch it at Halloween. I think it's a great idea :D

  5. I agree with sandi, I can't see a downside with this split either & personally I have no qualms about DW being on around Halloween as it would be a great Birthday treat for me! Selfish I know, but hey! However I AM intrigued about how this scheduling may affect Merlin's time slot; if it means Saturday nights would consist of Merlin followed by Who, I for one would not be complaining!

    Sorry Fifth Doctor,but there will always be fans who moan, because not everyone likes everything all the time, but as me ol' mucker Franz Seabrook says "remember that until five years ago, we didn't even have a show to moan about."

    Personally I can't wait to see what happens, all these changes are keeping the show fresh!

    Go Moffat!

  6. I have no problem with this, especially since shows like Burn Notice and Fringe (here in the States) always have mid-season gaps. Now generally they are only 2-3 months, but still.. I like having it spaced out, that way it seems like it lasts longer.

    Plus they can take their time filming the second half, which is good.

  7. Sorry thefifthdoctor, but there are so many people out there that will complain about any/everything ( the TARDIS is too blue, it's not the right kind of blue. THe way the Doctor holds the sonic screwdriver is wrong, his shoes aren't very Doctor-y.) Seriously, this show is amazing and we're lucky to have it, take the not-so-great with the totally freaking awesome and be happy.
    I'm taking a wait-and-see approach to the split. It certainly sounds interesting. If it means we get a better/ more favorable budget for Who, I'll take it. If the show moves to a fall schedule, I'm fine with that. If it stays in a split schedule, I'll be happy as long as it doesn't affect the show or it's plot too greatly. If we end up with only 6-7 episodes a year... NOT HAPPY.

  8. miss the days when a "season" meant a proper 26 episodes. six is not a season, not by any decent reckoning.

  9. Wow, not been here for a bit & I missed, well, the other folk who bother to comment giving some pretty decent counter arguments - nice to see that for a change, rather than what you usually encounter!

    I fully appreciate what you're all saying (ESPECIALLY DROW!!) - and I 110% agree on the watching Doctor Who on an Autumn evening as a "family" event. Well done on that observation, it's a good one.

    My issue though is, the real reason for the split.
    The BBC is too worried about it's plethora of reality garbage & less about proper family entertainment or drama - just look at how badly The Deep turned out there.

    The cynic in me is seeing this as a reminder of being a kid & being told by my folks that Doctor Who would not be back on. Ever.

    Given the merchandising I think I'm being a bit para, but this split feels off to me.