BBC Books has withdrawn Gareth Roberts’ short story from the upcoming Doctor Who anthology, The Target Storybook after pressure from some fans and fellow authors over controversial opinions Roberts expressed on Twitter.
The Target Storybook is comprised of short stories intended to expand on Doctor Who episodes in the same way as classic Target Books. We can only presume Roberts’ contribution was an extension of either The Lodger or Closing Time, both featuring the popular character, Craig Owens, played by James Corden (although Gareth’s TV serials include a number of favourites like The Shakespeare Code and The Unicorn and the Wasp).
Information about the anthology title leaked early, and Roberts writes:
“At this point a section of the Dr Who fandom agitated for my removal. Also, some of the other contributing authors to the book (I don’t know who) threatened to withdraw if I was involved. BBC Books immediately folded to these demands, and I was informed that although I would be paid my story would not be published, as they judged – wrongly, in my opinion – that a potential boycott would make the book ‘economically unviable’… I don’t believe my view should be protected either. People must be protected, ideas must never be. I would ask the writers who objected to my inclusion in the same book as them to reflect on that.”
Naturally, this being the Doctor Who fandom, it’s caused something of a stir on Twitter, and for various reasons, we’re not electing to plough into that particular minefield.
Nonetheless, it raises lots of questions which we might reevaluate in the future, first and foremost of which is: can we separate a writer’s opinions from their work? Can you enjoy one without accepting the other?
We leave this for DWC readers to mull over, but please be kind and understanding of each other (as you invariably are). The world is far too complex for abstractions like “tolerance” (and arguably “kindness” because intentions are easily muddied), but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for it.