Pocket explanations and Stephen Fry

Pocket explanations

If you’ve ever wondered why we’re almost always universally positive about whatever Who throws at us, I think I have a shortened way of explaining it.

Last week, I watched the 1982 story, Time Flight.

How can you complain about the effects or storyline of the new series when you’ve seen things like that?

Incidentally, despite its obvious (and brightly coloured) flaws, I really enjoyed watching it…  I know I have a natural bias towards the vegetable-wearing Edwardian cricketer, but I expected it to be awful.  And it was, I suppose, but nowhere near as bad as I was expecting.  I’ll be more than happy to watch it again.  Anyone else?

Why I don’t hate what Stephen Fry said

We didn’t talk about this on the podcast at the time, so I want to just have a go at tackling this.

Not very long after my birthday (it was very nice, thank you), the hulking great genius Mr Fry said this:

“The only drama the BBC will boast about are Merlin and Doctor Who, which are fine, but they’re children’s programmes. They’re not for adults.  And they’re very good children’s programmes, don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderfully written … but they are not for adults.”

I think he’s kind of right, although I think his comments are slightly tongue-in-cheek and pointing to a completely separate issue which then got almost lost behind the overblown storm that followed him mentioning Doctor Who…

If it is a proper complaint, however, it doesn’t quite follow.  I say that for 2 reasons.

First, Doctor Who and Merlin are not children’s programmes – these days the term for it is “family entertainment” – there’d never be children’s stuff on BBC One that time of day…they have their own channels, and so on that basis I disagree with him respectfully.

But I also think what he’s saying is not a terrible thing.  If it means I’m a fan of a children’s programme, I can live with that.  Especially seeing as how “adult drama” appears to mean Eastenders, Casualty and the like.

Second, his speech complained about two things – too much family entertainment, and also that scheduling is too polarised into specialist areas.  Which is a bit too much of a contradiction to make sense to me…  You want something with more general appeal, but you’re also convinced that we already have too much of that?  Head.  Hurts.

And even besides all that, he’s complaining while desperately ignoring “Kingdom” – the nice, but marvellously mediocre series he starred in on Sunday nights.  Hardly your obvious example of a “grown-up” drama which is made to “…surprise us, to outrage us.”

People in glass houses, Stephen, people in glass houses…

Comments 4

  1. Yeah, his comment is true enough, within the context of what he’s saying.
    Doctor Who may have something to offer viewers of any age, but it’s a far cry from serious adult drama.
    -still though, his comment is not very well composed.
    It doesn’t display the insight, cleverness, or wit which is supposed to be Fry’s claim to fame, which begs the question;
    Who cares what he thinks?

  2. I love Stephen Fry, but totally disagree with his assessment. I believe you are correct, they are family programmes and ones with interesting stories and characters.

  3. I can’t help wondering if The Moff rejected a script or plot or some such thing that Fry submitted. This whole thing smacks of sour grapes to me.

  4. Post
    Author

    Everything I’ve seen says that the reason Fry never actually got to write the episode was that he just ran out of time. It was originally meant for series 2, so David Tennant’s first season (I think – I’m sure there’s someone wonderful out there who can correct me if I’m wrong). There’s no rumour about a script kicking around as far as I know, so it’s unlikely to have got beyond Mr Fry and RTD talking about it.

    That may well be the most geeky comment I’ve ever written…

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