Since 1989 Doctor Who fans have been campaigning to get the series brought back. Letter campaigns, websites and support for merchandise are just some of the ways fans have shown support for ‘their’ show.
The news in late 2003 of the return of the show generated much optimism and excitement amongst online and offline fandom. Speculation about casting, costumes, themes and the look of the show meant that discussion forums and newsgroups saw a huge rise in traffic.
However as announcements and decisions entered the public domain a subset of fans have done little but complain, whinge and condemn. They “hate the jacket”, claim the vibrant new logo only took “5 minutes in Photoshop” and attack the acting skills of Billie Piper.
Anyone who saw Piper in Canterbury Tales will know that she is an exciting and robust performer. Combining her talent with her obvious place in the legion of the “beautiful people” means she is guaranteed to bring in viewers who might otherwise ignore the show.
The behaviour of some fans led to the BBC axing their Doctor Who discussion forum. Seemingly they finally tired of the homophobic and abusive content a few irresponsible “fans” filled the board with. Combined with a lax moderation regime this behaviour ensured the board rapidly descended into chaos and that any meaningful discussion was impossible.
Meanwhile on fans forums a number of posters have responded with the hysteria of stereotypical mouth-frothing fan that the media so enjoy lampooning. On seeing the new logo, one fan commented how he’d spent “2 hours in the toilet crying”. Others are apparently unable to enjoy the series because the Tardis prop is “too large”.
Such outpourings led to one freelance reporter mining forums as the basis of a story. In true tabloid fashion, only the most depraved and mad of comments were reported. The article led to a number of attacks against the reporter. Those wiser heads who had warned of such a prospect and took the opportunity to say “I told you so” were shouted down once more.
On a number of forums and groups self-proclaimed design experts have talked of how the new logo breaks the “rules of design”. What they really mean is it’s not the tired fan-produced rehash of the Pertwee/McGann logo which they’ve been carrying around in their heads for so long.
From the nature, ferocity and tone of some comments it is clear that a number of online fans have some interpersonal issues which they need to work through.With others it seems that jealousy at not being chose to build a specific prop, or compose the music, informs much of their petty sniping.
In all cases there is the common thread of resentment and realisation that this show is being made for the masses and not for the few thousand who buy DWM or the BBC Novels.
Many of the more grounded members of fandom are now preparing to avoid online forums for a period after the first UK transmission so as to avoid the mouth-frothing inanity which will surely be forthcoming.
As for the production team, if I were them I’d be booking a stay in Osama’s hideaway cave.