Matt's Mouthpiece: #keepmespoilerfree

  • In Feature
  • 15:32 on 8th Jul 2014
  • By Matthew Charlton

I'm becoming a lapsed Doctor Who fan. I somehow thought that the 23rd August was actually a lot further away than it actually is. Plus, I'm quite happy to remain in blissful ignorance of where Peter Capaldi's Doctor will take us in Doctor Who's eighth series, screening on BBC One later in the summer.

Yet, the news that a batch of scripts from the upcoming eighth series has piqued my interest. And also disappointed me. Just think, in two months from now, we'll eagerly be awaiting the Twelfth Doctor's fourth episode. Only, all of that has been ruined now by this script leak.

Trying to stay spoiler-free for something as monolithic as Doctor Who is always going to be something of a trial. Even if you can avoid the extensive coverage that the series receives in the papers, there's still TV trailers, covers of magazines and of course, the irresistible lure of Twitter and Facebook to spoil you.

I had managed to dodge last week's press coverage covering location filming in Cardiff until casually flicking open the Metro on the way home from work. And there, bold as brass, were pictures and storyline details. Now, whilst it wasn't totally specific as to what happens, there's still enough detail to spoil surprises from that particular episode.

I didn't watch a trailer, or read a preview of the 50th anniversary episode "The Day of the Doctor". As such, I hadn't joined the dots between many of the filming sequences that had been widely publicised. Nor did I know of Tom Baker's surprise appearance as The Curator. This resulted in a much more satisfying, surprising and emotional watch for me.

Doctor Who does seem to be one show though that breeds a certain type of fan who has to know everything - or feels an entitlement to know everything. Whether or not these turn out to be the finished scripts, or draft copies, many Doctor Who fans will likely exercise bragging rights whilst devouring the scripts.

Already amongst friends and acquaintances of mine there have been sly winks and fractious arguments. Whether or not they have downloaded and read the scripts remains to be seen, but for the next two months it's going to be a jaw-grinding summer of one-upmanship.

In recent memory, John Hurt's surprise appearance was very nearly blown when copies of the seventh series finale, "The Name of the Doctor" were erroneously sent out early. Head writer Steven Moffat pleaded with fans not to spoil any surprises. Somewhat shockingly, not one of the recipients of the discs actually leaked the episode, or it's content. A move that even Moffat appeared 'humbled' and surprised with when he posted a preview of the 50th anniversary episode as a thank you.

One of my current jobs is as a tour guide for the Coronation Street Tour around it's old Granada Studios set. Whilst not a requirement of the job, it helps to keep abreast of plotlines and upcoming stories. Soaps are well known for trailing stories in the press and announcing big plot twists well in advance of transmission.

But more recently, Coronation Street and Eastenders have managed to pull off some surprises to viewers: Tina McIntyre surviving the fall that was supposed to have killed her for a last confrontation with killer Rob and the unexpected appearance of Rainie Cross, who is currently blackmailing Ian Beale in Eastenders.

Such surprises get people talking - much in the same way that in pre-Internet days, Den and Angie's shock divorce would have done. Many of the visitors to the tour are, naturally, curious as to upcoming storylines and anything we might be able to divulge, but they only want teasing, not spoiling.

Knowing what comes next isn't a god-given right, but is sadly a reflection on the information driven world we live in. Sometimes though it is just nicer not to know what's going to happen next.

The intense scrutiny given to David Tennant's final Doctor Who episodes meant that Ood Sigma appearing in the snow, Rose Tyler's final appearance and all other manner of scenes were plastered over the papers. The best shock delivered during this period was David Tennant's resignation delivered live at the National Television Awards. Russell T. Davies recounts in his book The Writer's Tale how irritated the papers were that the Who crew had beaten them at their own game. I applauded wildly once I had picked my jaw off the ground at the sheer audacity of what the Who team had managed to pull off.

Not knowing where the ride will take you is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a fan of something. And although you get snippets and hints along the way, you wouldn't want to rip open your presents in the middle of the summer would you? I'm looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the Doctor without knowing when or where the TARDIS will land in August.

We are most definitely supporting #keepmespoilerfree - we sincerely hope you are as well.

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