The Great Doctor Who Incident of 2010

Everyone hates advertisments during their favorite television programs. Most people just record their shows in order to watch them at a later time and also to be able to skip through all of the 20 or more minutes of advertising. Companies and television broadcasting corporations alike realized this so it has become a fairly common trend over time to just place on-screen advertisements not during one of the many breaks but during the show itself.

This past saturday, BBC executives had seen over the past month that they lost an average of 2 million viewers from their network as soon as the new episode of Doctor Who had been broadcast. One way of fixing this problem, they thought, was by placing one of these on-screen advertisments during the last few minutes of the show. So, just this past saturday night, on BBC1, during the last few moments of the Doctor Who episode entitled ‘The Time of Angels’, a large, bright advertisment for the show ‘Over the Rainbow’ appeared in an attempt to keep 2 million people from turning their televisions off after the credits rolled.

Suffice to say, the plan failed horribly. The BBC executives placed this advertisment without consulting any of the show’s producers and they apparently didn’t realize that the advertisment they placed would appear during the cliffhanger of the first two-part story in the newest Doctor Who series. These executives obviously don’t watch Doctor Who. Anyone who does clearly understands that Doctor Who has been notorious for its excellent cliffhangers since 1963. The ending of ‘The Time of Angels’ is no exception.

Featuring the return of the Weeping Angel creatures last seen in the popular 2007 episode ‘Blink’ as well as the return of the mysterious companion River Song last seen in the 2008 ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’ two part story, the episode was sure to be fantastic edge-of-your-seat entertainment.  Immediately after the episode aired, the BBC received thousands of complains from infuriated fans across the nation through email and telephone. Even Simon Pegg (of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead fame) wrote on his twitter about how angry and suprised he was that the BBC would try such an offensive advertising manuever on their flagship program. A picture of the advertisment is shown above and it is clear just from the photo that the caption was not only totally distracting but also placed during the Doctor’s dramatic speech which concluded the episode.

The BBC has issued a formal apology for the incident:

“The Over the Rainbow trail in Doctor Who should not have played out on Saturday and we apologise to all Doctor Who fans whose enjoyment of the show was disrupted. We recognise the strength of feeling that has been expressed and are taking steps to ensure that this mistake will not happen again.”

The incident has also been dubbed ‘Nortongate’ since the person being portrayed on the bottom of the screen is a cartoon version of Graham Norton, host of the popular comedy show of the same name.

Someone must have been fired over this incident due to the fact that the choice to run the advertisment was made by BBC One management and was made without consulting the producer’s of Doctor Who or the senior management of BBC Wales. According to the viewing numbers, even with the contorversial caption, the BBC was still unable to keep 2 million people from changing the channel or turning off their television after Doctor Who aired. Part two of the story, called ‘Flesh and Stone’, is set to air in England this saturday. BBC America is a few weeks behind and will be airing the ‘Victory of the Daleks’ episode this saturday stateside.


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