I was casually browsing through a forum for Doctor Who as I do every couple of days. I usually just see what the most recent threads are, occasionally look at a few filming spoilers and then carry on with the rest of my internet browsing. Yesterday I noticed a thread about a ‘University Study on Sexism in Doctor Who‘ and clicked on it to read the posts and the original article itself. As someone who has studied Doctor Who academically and written essays/a dissertation on the programme, I was interested in reading another young researcher’s work and to see how they approached it. After reading the research project, I read some of the posts on the thread and was appalled by some fans’ responses. Some questioned the topic, others targeted the researcher. I’m not going to specifically address my ideas about whether Doctor Who is sexist or not as a lot of others already have (including The Guardian). This post is more about fan responses to research.
…accepted the How I Met Your Mother finale.
How I Met Your Mother is a sitcom which started in 2005 and finished in 2014. Set in New York, the sitcom followed the adventures of Ted Mosby (and his friends) as he searched for love. These stories are told by an older Ted to his children in 2030. Over the last 9 years, we have watched Ted’s quest to find “the one“. We have witnessed the ups and downs of his dating experiences amongst stories of his friends and their lives. At the end of series 8, the Mother is introduced to the audience as she buys a train ticket. We learn more about her as series 9 progresses and in the finale, Ted meets her.
At the start of March this year, it was announced that BBC3 may cease to exist as a television channel. The channel is currently a 9 hour broadcaster (it is on air from 7pm until about 4am) and is aimed at an audience aged between 16 and 34.
The plans to move the channel’s content online come as the BBC must reduce its spending amongst nationwide cuts. The BBC decided to prioritise its other television channels: BBC One as it is the channel that appeals to a mass audience and BBC Two/Four as part of a plan to increase arts programming. This suggests that by prioritising these channels the BBC as a public service broadcaster is fulfilling its ideals of entertainment (BBC One), education (BBC Two/Four) and information (BBC One/Two/Four).On a basic level, this move seems logical: BBC Three’s programming is not beneficial to audiences with regards to the Reithian ideals. There are examples of programmes that are counterarguments to the statement I have just made but then again, what does Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents really contribute to society apart from a voyeuristic insight into teenage hedonism?
The move has to be approved by the BBC Trust and will not happen until at least Autumn 2015. However, the announcement provoked an outcry on Twitter (mostly from those stars who’d benefitted from the channel) and a petition has been created to #savebbc3.
Whilst watching youtube videos post-2014 Television BAFTAS, I came across the Radio Times Audience Award Winners one. Doctor Who won for the 50th Anniversary special The Day of the Doctor. In the video, producer Marcus Wilson states “The show is now being made by fans”.
This sits awkwardly with me. I do consider myself a fan of the programme. I’ve watched every episode since the programme was brought back in 2005 except for the Series 6 episode Closing Time which I missed and never caught up on (mainly due to my dislike of James Corden and Matt Smith being my least favourite “new” Doctor). I’ve started watching episodes from the classic era of Doctor Who. I read threads on the Doctor Who forum on Digital Spy, I reblog Doctor Who related things on tumblr, I buy Doctor Who merchandise whilst meeting the actors at Cardiff Comic Con and so on.
However, through my university course, I have also approached the programme as a researcher. I have written assignments on the representation and production of the programme as well as dedicating my dissertation to it! Assuming an unbiased, academic perspective towards my work has made me realise the extent to which the fan is involved. I have been able to view the fandom from a distance and have felt that, at times, the fandom can be understood as a problematic concept.
…but I didn’t find Monica Dolan’s Welsh accent in W1A that offensive!
W1A is a mockumentary of the workings of the BBC which was broadcast on BBC Two in March 2014. It’s a comedy programme that is a sequel to the Olympics mockumentary Twenty Twelve. The programme revolves around various heads of departments who have to deal with production disasters, representation issues and how to prove the BBC’s value to audiences as a public service broadcaster. One of these heads of department is Senior Communications Officer Tracey Pritchard played by Monica Dolan.