The latest Private Eye carries more reports (or disgraceful tittle-tattle if you prefer) of behind-the-scenes rumblings in Cardiff.
So. Farewell then to another executive producer at Doctor Who, with Beth Willis following Piers Wenger out the door to return to her former employer, independent producer Kudos.
This time, following the PR storm which followed the Eye’s revelations of behind-the-scenes calamity under the leadership of the gruesome twosome and the reduced number of episodes that will air next year (see Eye 1290), the corporation was taking no chances.
BBC Drama controller Ben Stephenson and showrunner Steven Moffat lined up to offer fulsome praise (and there’s a phrase that’s often misused), while more lowly staff at BBC Wales – uncowed by a threat of punishment “in the strongest possible way” should they be proved to have leaked any information to Private Eye – tell us that “we are planning a party for the day they leave Wales, and we will buying a cake for your informant when we discover who it was.”
Production on Doctor Who is meanwhile running several months behind the usual schedule. The Christmas special – hitherto filmed in June or July each year – will not see cameras roll until September. Filming on the next series customarily starts shortly afterwards: this time the Tardis is unlikely to take flight before February next year.
The corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, meanwhile, has had a good look at the figures for 2009, the last year when a smaller number of episodes than usual aired. and has noted that sales of its flagship kids’ title Doctor Who Adventures dropped by nearly two-thirds. It has now reconsidered plans for a massive magazine partwork it was to release in the run-up to the programme’s 50th anniversary in 2013. It has, to use a technical publishing term, been “shitcanned”.
“Out the door”??? Is Private Eye now following the DW lead and pandering to the US market? Cardiff doesn’t sound entirely the harmonious family it always seemed to be under the original Three Who Ruled, does it? Distressing as it may be to hear of the clouds louring on Cardiff, there seems to be one silver lining. It’s been suggested here and there within fandom lately that, if the BBC finds that it can make just as much money from a reduced season as from a full 13-episode season, it may decide that it’s cheaper to only produce half as much DW each year. If, as Private Eye reports, the Specials year hit DW merchandising hard enough for the BBC to notice, this may discourage any such ideas.