Science Fiction Film & Television

The year of the Doctor

Celebrating the 50th, regenerating public value?

Science Fiction Film & Television (2014), 7, (2), 159–178.

Abstract

This article considers how Doctor Who's 50th anniversary was strategically utilised by the BBC. Framed within a neoliberal consumer-cultural context, the programme was extensively merchandised and commodified by BBC Worldwide, with profits going back into BBC public service programming. But at the same time as commercial exploitation threatened to encroach on the BBC's identity as a public service broadcaster - especially via events such as the ExCeL ‘Celebration’ - Who's commemoration was positioned as a matter of public value, providing the ‘social glue’ to unite a nation, if not a global array of fan-viewers, whilst drawing on ‘BBC nostalgia’ (Holdsworth 113). By analysing tensions between commercialism and public service broadcasting, I argue that the contemporary BBC displays a doubled attention to public service television, seeking discursively to separate public value from exchange value (via binaries such as UK-global or past-present), and yet also to legitimate commercial activity as a necessary supplement to licence-fee funding. Doctor Who's 50th, conceptualised and marketed as a ‘media event’, enabled the BBC performatively to align itself with historical value and social unification, but it also unevenly blurred together commercial and public value in a range of ways that were typically left uncontested by neoliberal ‘common sense’.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Arnopp, Jason. ‘The DWM Review of 2013’. Doctor Who Magazine 468 (2013): 30-35. ‘The DWM Review of 2013’ Doctor Who Magazine 468 30 35 Google Scholar

Auslander, Philip. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture. London: Routledge, 1999. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture Google Scholar

Barnett, Steven, and Jean Seaton. ‘Why the BBC Matters: Memo to the New Parliament about a Unique British Institution’. The Political Quarterly 81.3 (2010): 327-32. ‘Why the BBC Matters: Memo to the New Parliament about a Unique British Institution’ The Political Quarterly 81 327 32 Google Scholar

BBC. Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World. 2004. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/policies/pdf/bpv.pdf Google Scholar

BBC. Delivering Quality First. 2011. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/reports/pdf/dqf_detailedproposals.pdf Google Scholar

BBC. Delivering Quality First: Final Conclusions. 2012. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/dqf/final_conclusions.pdf Google Scholar

BBC. Newswatch, BBC News channel. 22 Nov 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03j0tmp Google Scholar

BBC Worldwide. ‘BBC AMERICA's Doctor Who 50th Special Delivers Rating and Social Media Records’. 25 Nov 2013. http://www.bbcwpressroom.com/bbc-america/press/bbc-americas-doctor-who-50th-special-delivers-rating-and-social-media-records Google Scholar

BBC Worldwide. ‘What's New: Celebration’. 2013. http://www.doctorwho.tv/whats-new/video?tag=Celebration Google Scholar

Becker, Christine. ‘From High Culture to Hip Culture: Transforming the BBC into BBC America’. Anglo-American Media Interactions, 1850-2000. Ed. Joel H. Wiener and Mark Hampton. New York: Palgrave, 2007. 275-94. Anglo-American Media Interactions, 1850-2000 275 94 Google Scholar

Benington, John. ‘From Private Choice to Public Value?’ Public Value: Theory and Practice. Ed. John Benington and Mark H. Moore. New York: Palgrave, 2011. 31-51. Public Value: Theory and Practice 31 51 Google Scholar

Benington, John, and Mark H. Moore. ‘Public Value in Complex and Changing Times’. Public Value: Theory and Practice. Ed. John Benington and Mark H. Moore. New York: Palgrave, 2011. 1-30. Public Value: Theory and Practice 1 30 Google Scholar

Bennett, James. Television Personalities: Stardom and the Small Screen. London: Routledge, 2011. Television Personalities: Stardom and the Small Screen Google Scholar

Benson, Glenwyn, and Robin Foster, (eds). The Creative Perspective: The Future Role of Public Service Broadcasting. London: Premium, 2008. The Creative Perspective: The Future Role of Public Service Broadcasting Google Scholar

Binns, John. ‘Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty’. Doctor Who Magazine 468 (2013): 81. ‘Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty’ Doctor Who Magazine 468 81 Google Scholar

Binns, John. ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’. Doctor Who Magazine 468 (2013): 82. ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’ Doctor Who Magazine 468 82 Google Scholar

Binns, John. ‘The Science of Doctor Who’. Doctor Who Magazine 468 (2013): 80. ‘The Science of Doctor Who’ Doctor Who Magazine 468 80 Google Scholar

Bolin, Göran. Value and the Media: Cultural Production and Consumption in Digital Markets. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011. Value and the Media: Cultural Production and Consumption in Digital Markets Google Scholar

Booth, Paul. Digital Fandom: New Media Studies. New York: Peter Lang, 2010. Digital Fandom: New Media Studies Google Scholar

Booy, Miles. Love and Monsters: The Doctor Who Experience, 1979 to the Present. London: I. B. Tauris, 2012. Love and Monsters: The Doctor Who Experience, 1979 to the Present Google Scholar

Bould, Mark. ‘Science Fiction Television in the United Kingdom’. The Essential Science Fiction Television Reader. Ed. J. P. Telotte. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2008. 209-30. The Essential Science Fiction Television Reader 209 30 Google Scholar

Born, Georgina. Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC. London: Secker and Warburg, 2004. Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC Google Scholar

Chapman, James. Inside the TARDIS: The Worlds of Doctor Who - New Revised Edition. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013. Inside the TARDIS: The Worlds of Doctor Who - New Revised Edition Google Scholar

Collins, Richard. ‘The BBC and "Public Value"’. Medien und Kommunikationswissenschaft 55.2 (2007): 164-84. ‘The BBC and "Public Value"’ Medien und Kommunikationswissenschaft 55 164 84 Google Scholar

Couldry, Nick. Media Rituals: A Critical Approach London: Routledge, 2003. Media Rituals: A Critical Approach Google Scholar

Dayan, Daniel, and Elihu Katz. Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History Google Scholar

Doctor Who Tumblr. ‘How big was Doctor Who on Tumblr on Saturday?’ 2013. http://doctorwho.tumblr.com/post/68215441488/how-big-was-doctor-who-on-tumblr-on-saturday Google Scholar

Duffett, Mark. Understanding Fandom. London: Bloomsbury, 2013. Understanding Fandom Google Scholar

Farley, Jordan. ‘View Screen.’ SFX 243 (2013): 124. ‘View Screen’ SFX 243 124 Google Scholar

Geraghty, Lincoln. ‘Aging Toys and Players: Fan Identity and Cultural Capital’. Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise and Critics. Ed. Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and John Shelton Lawrence. New York: Peter Lang, 2006. 209-23. Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise and Critics 209 23 Google Scholar

Geraghty, Lincoln. Cult Collectors. London: Routledge, 2014. Cult Collectors Google Scholar

Gilbert, Jeremy. ‘What Kind of Thing Is "Neoliberalism"?’ New Formations 80-1 (2013): 7-22. ‘What Kind of Thing Is "Neoliberalism"?’ New Formations 80-1 7 22 Google Scholar

Gray, Ann, and Erin Bell. History on Television. London: Routledge, 2013. History on Television Google Scholar

Gray, Jonathan. Show Sold Separately. New York: New York UP, 2010. Show Sold Separately Google Scholar

Hall, Stuart, and Alan O'Shea. ‘Common-sense Neoliberalism’. http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/soundings/pdfs/Manifesto_commonsense_neoliberalism.pdf Google Scholar

Hall, Tony. ‘The Man in Charge’. Radio Times (23-9 November 2013): 28-9. ‘The Man in Charge’ Radio Times 28 9 Google Scholar

Harvie, Jen. Fair Play: Art, Performance and Neoliberalism. New York: Palgrave, 2013. Fair Play: Art, Performance and Neoliberalism Google Scholar

Hendy, David. Public Service Broadcasting. New York: Palgrave, 2013. Public Service Broadcasting Google Scholar

Hepp, Andreas. Cultures of Mediatization. Cambridge: Polity, 2013. Cultures of Mediatization Google Scholar

Hepp, Andreas, and Nick Couldry, Nick. ‘Introduction: Media Events in Globalized Media Culture’. Media Events in a Global Age. Ed. Nick Couldry, Andreas Hepp and Friedrich Krotz. London: Routledge, 2010. 1-20. Media Events in a Global Age 1 20 Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. Fan Cultures. London: Routledge, 2002. Fan Cultures Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. Triumph of a Time Lord: Regenerating Doctor Who in the Twenty-first Century. London: I. B. Tauris, 2010. Triumph of a Time Lord: Regenerating Doctor Who in the Twenty-first Century Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. ‘Anniversary Adventures in Space and Time: The Changing Faces of Doctor Who's Commemoration.’ New Dimensions of Doctor Who. Ed. Matt Hills. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013. 216-34. New Dimensions of Doctor Who 216 34 Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. ‘Doctor Who Official 50th Celebration’. 25 Nov 2013. http://reviews.doctorwhonews.net/2013/11/celebration-review-251113203022.html Google Scholar

Hills, Matt. ‘The Hype of the Doctor’. Antenna, 17 Dec 2013. http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/12/17/the-cultural-lives-of-doctor-who-the-hype-of-the-doctor Google Scholar

Holdsworth, Amy. Television, Memory and Nostalgia. New York: Palgrave, 2011. Television, Memory and Nostalgia Google Scholar

Jenkins, Henry, Sam Ford and Joshua Green. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. New York: New York UP, 2013. Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture Google Scholar

Johnson, Catherine. Branding Television. New York: Routledge, 2012. Branding Television Google Scholar

Johnson, Catherine. ‘Doctor Who as Programme Brand’. New Dimensions of Doctor Who. Ed. Matt Hills. London: I. B. Tauris, 2013. 95-112. New Dimensions of Doctor Who 95 112 Google Scholar

Johnson, Catherine. ‘From Brand Congruence to the "Virtuous Circle": Branding and the Commercialization of Public Service Broadcasting’. Media, Culture & Society 35.3 (2013): 314-31. ‘From Brand Congruence to the "Virtuous Circle": Branding and the Commercialization of Public Service Broadcasting’ Media, Culture & Society 35 314 31 Google Scholar

Kibble-White, Graham. ‘The Night of the Doctor’. Doctor Who Magazine 468 (2013): 77. ‘The Night of the Doctor’ Doctor Who Magazine 468 77 Google Scholar

Lewin, Russell. ‘Doctor Who: Fiftieth Anniversary Special Takes Gold’. SFX 243 (2013): 124-5. ‘Doctor Who: Fiftieth Anniversary Special Takes Gold’ SFX 243 124 5 Google Scholar

Leys, Colin. Market-driven Politics: Neoliberal Democracy and the Public Interest. London: Verso, 2003. Market-driven Politics: Neoliberal Democracy and the Public Interest Google Scholar

Moffat, Steven. ‘Steven Moffat’. Doctor Who Magazine 468 (2013): 6. ‘Steven Moffat’ Doctor Who Magazine 468 6 Google Scholar

Moore, Mark H. Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995. Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government Google Scholar

Moore, Mark H. Recognizing Public Value. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2013. Recognizing Public Value Google Scholar

Moran, Joe. Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in front of the TV. London: Profile, 2013. Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in front of the TV Google Scholar

Nelson, Robin. State of Play: Contemporary "High-end" TV Drama. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2007. State of Play: Contemporary "High-end" TV Drama Google Scholar

Oldham, Joseph. ‘Doctor Who in the Twenty-First Century: Public Service, National Address and Nostalgia’. 2013. http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/culture/doctor-who-in-the-twenty-first-century-public-service-national-address-and-nostalgia Google Scholar

Rojek, Chris. Event Power: How Global Events Manage and Manipulate. London: Sage, 2013. Event Power: How Global Events Manage and Manipulate Google Scholar

Sherwin, Adam. ‘Doctor Who: Lost Episodes Enemy of the World and Web of Fear Discovered’. The Independent, 11 Oct 2013. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/doctor-who-lost-episodes-enemy-of-the-world-and-web-of-fear-discovered-8872220.html Accessed 25 Dec 2013. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/doctor-who-lost-episodes-enemy-of-the-world-and-web-of-fear-discovered-8872220.html ‘Doctor Who: Lost Episodes Enemy of the World and Web of Fear Discovered’ The Independent Google Scholar

Steemers, Jeanette. ‘Between Culture and Commerce: The Problem of Redefining Public Service Broadcasting for the Digital Age’. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 5.3 (1999): 44-66. ‘Between Culture and Commerce: The Problem of Redefining Public Service Broadcasting for the Digital Age’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 5 44 66 Google Scholar

Sumiala, Johanna. Media and Ritual: Death, Community and Everyday Life. London: Routledge, 2013. Media and Ritual: Death, Community and Everyday Life Google Scholar

Tostevin, Dan. ‘Anniversary Fever!’ Doctor Who Magazine 456 (2013): 26-31. ‘Anniversary Fever!’ Doctor Who Magazine 456 26 31 Google Scholar

Tracey, Michael. The Decline and Fall of Public Service Broadcasting. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. The Decline and Fall of Public Service Broadcasting Google Scholar

Ventura, Patricia. Neoliberal Culture: Living with American Neoliberalism. Farnham: Ashgate, 2012. Neoliberal Culture: Living with American Neoliberalism Google Scholar

Williams, Kevin. ‘The Unbearable Light of the Market: Broadcasting in the Nations and Regions of Britain post-Peacock’. The Peacock Committee and UK Broadcasting Policy. Ed. Tom O'Malley and Janet Jones. New York: Palgrave, 2009. 165-86. The Peacock Committee and UK Broadcasting Policy 165 86 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Hills, Matt