The media news section in the latest Private Eye has a piece on the much-ballyhooed DW film and the BBC’s money-grubbing…oops I mean first official convention.

The BBC’s efforts to exterminate any goodwill surrounding its most-loved property and biggest banker, Doctor Who, continue with last week’s news that David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter films, has been brought in by Jane Tranter, head of BBC Worldwide Productions, to develop ideas for a big-screen version.

Yates’s interview with Variety – heavily hyped across the BBC’s own news outlets on 14 November – was the first showrunner Steven Moffat had heard that negotiations had reached such a stage. A sticking point in Moffat’s negotiations over his hiring as Who supremo back in 2008 had been his concern about a mooted movie overshadowing his work on the TV series. So failing to give him any advance warning – not least because Yates spoke of the need for “quite a radical transformation” which would “start from scratch” – was, at the least, tactless. But then since very senior people at the BBC openly describe Moffat as “a problem”, this may have been the idea.

Meanwhile, BBC Worldwide has been making good on its stated aim of “exploiting media content and brands around the world” with the announcement in the same week of the “first official Doctor Who convention”, to be held in Cardiff next March. While the many long-running unofficial conventions, featuring appearances by various stars of the programme past and present, tend to charge around £40 a day or, in one case, £85 for an entire weekend, with autographs and photo opportunities included, 2012’s official effort will set fans back £99 per person for a single day.

Anyone wishing to purchase an autograph from Moffat or the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, was required to fork out £20 or £25, although following an outraged reaction from fans it was announced last week that “after consultation with Steven Moffat, we have agreed that the limited, guaranteed autograph signing and photograph opportunity with him will be offered on a complimentary basis.”

Oh, and the organisers of this particular celebration of Doctor Who recommend that children do not attend.

I’ve whinged before about the appalling absence of self-respect on both sides of the convention table which is involved in queueing to PAY your childhood hero for an autograph. It seems impersonal enough to stand in line for hours til you hear the call “next”. What fulfillment does a fan get from having a hero’s autograph when they know that it was just another of a thousand they’d dashed off on the convention conveyor belt that day?

Having never myself stooped so low as to do this, I’ve no idea what the celebs scrawl on the proffered photos and books but I imagine that it includes something along the lines of “Best Wishes, Steven Moffat”. If you have to fork out £20 before they’re offered to you, those wishes can hardly be the “best”. I do love that line from the BBC announcing that “after consultation with Steven Moffat, we have agreed that the limited, guaranteed autograph signing and photograph opportunity with him will be offered on a complimentary basis.” Bit of a backhanded compliment, if you ask me.

It strikes me as the prostitution of DW celebrity. Isn’t sex preferable with someone who’s doing it because they like you rather than because you’re paying them? I can understand a DW celeb not being prepared to do the convention round free of charge but wouldn’t it be less tacky to pay them entirely up front and stick it on the ticket price?

Posted November 23, 2011 by docwhom in Misc

2 responses to “SIGNING AWAY YOUR SOUL

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  1. I think it’s genuinely about filling the revenue gap. Someone, somewhere – was it you? Was it Private Eye? Was it you reporting Private Eye? – commented that during the year of the Specials, BBC merchandsing revenue dropped quite significantly due, basically, to there being a lack of a new series and the corresponding new plastic collectibles which, ironically enough given the end of the quote from Eye, are usually bought by children. Postponement of the season probably counts for the same thing in the eyes of the BBC and so, to make some money back, it’s cough-up at Cardiff time.

    WIth some celebrities at these things you really do feel like you’re going through the treadmill. With others they certainly do try to make it a more personal experience. At the end of the day this is going to be te height of popularity for them; as a DW cast member they may well be seeing their highest ever viewing figures. Just people making hay while the sun shines. Can you blame them? No different to footballer’s fees really.

  2. Pingback: DIDDLY DUM PODCAST 017 – Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings | diddlydumpodcast

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