It’d be fair to say that the surprise of the summer has been the popularity of Doctor Who on the gaming/streaming platform, Twitch. Across 7 weeks, beginning on 29th May 2018, over 500 episodes of Classic Doctor Who, from An Unearthly Child to Survival, are streaming, alongside pre-show content and live chat with peers. But this month, that comes to an end.
The Curse of Fenric and Survival, two Seventh Doctor stories, will conclude the run on 23rd July. So how can the BBC keep up the publicity generated by the Twitch revolution…?
A repeat of the marathon is unlikely, let’s face it. We don’t know the ins and outs of how this agreement between BC Studios and Twitch came about, but we’re glad it did; nonetheless, it’s doubtful such an experiment will be duplicated any time soon.
One answer, and something we’d be particularly receptive to, is for the BBC to notice that there’s still an audience for older episodes of Doctor Who… and repeat them. A few Christmases ago, BBC1 repeated the festive specials in the afternoons in December, and while they might not have got millions of viewers, they do still strengthen the brand. But when was the last time we saw Classic Who on one of the flagship channels? It was probably 2013, when they replayed An Unearthly Child on BBC4 (and feel free to argue that BBC4 isn’t a flagship channel – heck, I agree with you, but it’s difficult to recall further back than even that).
Now, one issue with that might be the production team’s apparent unwillingness to look backwards. This is purely speculation, of course, but there is the distinct feeling that there’s a break with tradition coming up and that the BBC want focus to be on Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, not any previous incarnation. It’s a fair viewpoint, but equally, you can’t ignore the number of people who have fond memories of those who came before.
Talking to a fellow fan (albeit the other party having lapsed from the show), she sighed and asked when it would actually be back on TV. “Christmas?” she asked before saying she’s just rewatching the episodes with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith. And that’s the issue here: Twitch is great for engaging a certain generation, but the series spans the generations. Let’s not forget that. Twitch has been popular, but it still caters for a minority.
Perhaps more can be made of iPlayer. Series 1 to 10 are available on there, but trailers advertising the fact are few and far between. Crank the publicity machine up a gear, BBC! And while you’re at it, add in some Classic Who too…
Twitch has been all about streaming, but is there an option to exploit physical media? Advertising the serials missing from the Twitch marathon (due to some messy rights reasons largely) could be a solid option, and of course Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 12 is a great jumping-on point.
Does there even need to be follow-up hype? Is Doctor Who Series 11 going to be publicised enough not to warrant anything more following Twitch? Sadly, considering the dearth of news about Jodie Whittaker’s first season, it feels like that’s not going to be enough to sustain interest until October (when Series 11 is expected to begin on BBC1 and BBC America). Indeed, we’re a tad worried that the hype will wane regardless because no one really knows when Doctor Who will actually be back – at this stage, it’s all guesswork.
Still, Twitch at least proves that there’s still excitement for Doctor Who: it just needs to be taken advantage of.
The streaming platform demonstrates that there’s so much potential there – so the BBC should definitely tap that further. How? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below…