In a move oddly reminiscent of the infamous postponement of Season 23 back in the mid-1980s, the BBC announced today that Doctor Who Confidential, its BBC Three prime-time behind-the-scenes show, will cease production, effective immediately. This Saturday (1st October)’s edition will be the final episode.
The move appears to have been imposed upon the digital channel by BBC controller Zai Bennett, who said, “It's about focusing my budget on 9pm and 10.30pm; those are the time slots that count. Budgets are tight, so we have to be sensible with the money we have.” The loss of Doctor Who Confidential is part of a programme of cuts across 20% of the BBC’s services, but it is important to note that this should not affect the budget or broadcasting of the parent programme in any way. Confidential is paid for and produced entirely independently of Doctor Who.
While there are some who believe that Confidential lost its relevancy some while ago (particularly with its struggle to fill a running time that was expanded to match that of the parent programme), it is also notable that the BBC has lost an important resource for future generations of fans of its flagship television show, Doctor Who. Without the cut-down editions to include (which cost roughly the same to produce as the full-length editions, and so are not an alternative option for broadcast), there is also a question of how 2|entertain might seek to fill its Value Added Material quota on future DVD editions of the programme.
With Doctor Who Confidential having frequently been amongst BBC Three’s most-viewed programmes (regularly topping the channel’s viewing figures upon its launch in 2005, and even moving to BBC1 on special occasions, such as the announcement of David Tennant’s successor in the role of the Doctor in January 2009), the decision to axe the show might seem an unusual one, but it is thought that the 7pm – 9pm slot on BBC Three will be taken up with repeats (often of shows that debuted on BBC1), freeing up the post-watershed slots for new programming. Already there is a Twitter campaign (http://twitter.com/#!/SaveDWC) seeking to save the show.
Doctor Who Confidential bows out this Saturday at 8.35pm on BBC Three, with an edition that includes a brand new three-minute ‘episode’ of Doctor Who, Death is the Only Answer, written by four children from Oakley CE Junior School in Hampshire as a BBC competition entry.
Will you miss Doctor Who Confidential, or was the programme past its prime? Let us know in our Comments section or on Twitter @Starburst_Mag