One of the most noticable signs of the recent pressures facing the BBC has been the announcement by the Guardian that Doctor Who making-of show, Doctor Who Confidential is to be scrapped. BBC Controller, Zai Bennett has cited a concerted focus on producing shows for peak evening slots. With a great swathe of cuts made at the BBC, it appears that its channels are under greater pressure to produce fresh, new programming.
Over the last seven years, Doctor Who Confidential often followed the most recent broadcast episode. With voice overs from British actors Simon Pegg, Alex Price, Anthony Stewart Head and Russell Tovey, the show covered the complete production from the performances of the actors to what they had for breakfast. Almost no stone was left unturned in the making of Doctor Who since it’s return in 2005, and would occasionally feature some asides to the original series too.
While Doctor Who Confidential went from a tidy 25 minutes to a rather longer format of 40-odd minutes (mirroring the length of its parent programme), it became clear there was very little more that could be added. But what if it’s not just about us fans that had seen it all already? Confidential served a couple of purposes; for one, parents could show their children that the monsters weren’t real, allowing them to go to bed without thinking that Weeping Angels (probably) weren’t going to appear out of nowhere.
The other thing is its educational value. So what if the grown ups and older kids had seen Confidential from the beginning? The programme gave a fresh insight to the making of a television show, allowing children to gain an understanding of not just the making of Doctor Who, but give an extra insight into the themes of a particular episode.
There is an arguement that reducing the time slot could cut costs, but this is also a false perspective. To quote Doctor Who Magazine editor, @tomspilsbury on Twitter, “I think those saying ‘can’t they just make the 15-minute versions’ are missing the point. That would still cost the same as the 45-min eps!” – You’d still be covering all the costs of the programme’s crew and time.
While I had began to drift away from Doctor Who Confidential, it certainly had a place as a sideline to Doctor Who’s output, particularly when the show concentrated on the strengths of its crew. It covered montages, great interviews and some rather insightful travelogue/historical pieces.
It is unsurprising that its days were numbered, and to perhaps go back on what I said before, it had run its course. Afterall, kids can still watch the Cut-Downs on DVD. But it did what it did with love for its subject. So long, Doctor Who Confidential!