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The First Rule is…

June 16th, 2005 · No Comments

If you are at all interested in Doctor Who and would rather not know any plot details of the last episode, do not read any stories about Doctor Who on the internet from now on. You might think that you can rely on places like the BBC and the Guardian not to spoil the ending, since they haven’t done so in the past, but that isn’t the case now. The BBC conducted an unembargoed press screening of the final episode recently, and all of the papers and news outlets are happily spoiling everything.

I fell afoul of this today, when I read a seemingly innocuous article in the Guardian Media Online about the show being renewed for a third season. “Why,” I asked myself blithely, “would anyone put spoilers in such an article?” Anyway, about halfway through the article was a huge plot spoiler. I could hardly believe my eyes, and immediately closed the window in fear of further infection. Within minutes, I dispatched an angry email to the editor of the Guardian Media section, Janine Gibson, complaining about it.

To her credit she replied extremely rapidly and apologised for it. Shortly afterwards, the author of the article himself, Matt Wells, also replied and pointed out that there was a spoiler warning in the fourth para of the article. True enough, but I tend to speed read stuff on the internet (like many others, I suspect), and just zipped past it. The offending paragraph with spoilers was already on my screen without any scrolling at that point, so it was too late.

Luckily it wasn’t all spoiled for me, but damage has been done. I’ll just have to be more careful from now on…

Here is the correspondence of this story:

Date: 10:55:37 BST
From: Adrian Hon
To: Janine Gibson

Dear Ms. Gibson,

I’m a regular reader of Media Guardian and often find it gives the best reporting on UK Media issues. However, I was severely disappointed when I read ‘Doctor Who fights on… and on’ by Matt Wells today. Is it really necessary for him to spoil parts (if not all) of the ending of this season in a discussion about the third season renewal?

Surely it hasn’t escaped the Guardian’s notice that a good percentage of the population of this country are looking forward to the final episode and really would rather not know the ending? Even people who work in media don’t always want to know all the details.

Yours,

Adrian Hon

Date: 11:04:17 BST
From: Janine Gibson
To: Adrian Hon

Thank you for your email. I too was absolutely furious at the number of spoilers in the national press this morning and we have already shouted at matt. To be fair to him, he was filing late for the paper which was automatically uploaded onto the site. I think he has an excuse because he tried to warn fans not to read on.

I sympathise though. Everyone does it and it drives lots of readers nuts. He swears there are still secrets and the times was much worse…

Janine Gibson
The Guardian

Date: 11:14:56 BST
From: Matt Wells
To: Adrian Hon

Hi Adrian

Thanks very much for your email. We faced a tricky decision last night. The BBC held a screening for several hundred invited guests at Bafta for the last episode. Many were journalists, and many were Who fans who run fanzines and websites. The BBC did not place the event under embargo, which it could have chosen to do. Indeed, it released a load of pictures to the press of the final epsiode.

My feeling was that, given the number of people present and the likelihood of leaks, the Guardian had to run a story of some kind – leading on the line that the BBC had commissioned a third series. We then thought it would be fine to drop in a couple of teasers for Saturday night’s episode, without revealing the plot entirely. And given that it has already been revealed that Christopher Eccleston is not returning as the Doctor – and, for goodness sake, the BBC’s own Doctor Who site says the episode is called Parting of the Ways – we thought it wasn’t too much of a revelation to say that (removed because this is a great big spoiler).

We didn’t go as far as the Times, which has revealed a great deal more. In any case I can assure you there is LOADS more in the final episode, and your enjoyment has not been spoiled. It’s a cracker.

Beyond all of that, I wrote a warning in the fourth paragraph that some plot details would be revealed in the rest of the story. More fool you for reading on!

Best wishes,
Matt

Tags: doctorwho · newspaper

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