When Being A Doctor Who Fan Makes You Money… But Steals Your Soul

Missing episodes. That’s a topic that always causes laughter, isn’t it? Over the past few weeks, The Mirror has been publishing “amusing” content, one of which you might have seen: the spoof history of top Doctor Who episodes. It was quite amusing, but easily forgotten; a problem with online content, a medium where ideas are transient, except in extremely rare circumstances.

What you may not have seen – and we won’t link to it for your sanity – is the insulting diatribe against ten new series era episodes that The Mirror “would be happy if the BBC wiped and deleted.”

It isn’t enough that people have sweated blood and tears and travelled to danger spots around the world in search for genuinely lost episodes, apparently. No, now the BBC is being encouraged, in an act of cultural vandalism, to intentionall wipe episodes that the paper – in the shape of the post’s writer, Martin Belam – has a dislike for. A dislike. Of episodes of a TV show.

As a newspaper with an online presence, The Mirror has a need – nay, a desperation – to maintain its audience, hence this horrendous piece of clickbait, its full title: “The 10 episodes of new Doctor Who that we would be happy if the BBC wiped and deleted.” Oh, and it has a subtitle, too: “We need to face facts. There are some episodes of Doctor Who that deserve to be destroyed.” You know what? There are newspapers that deserve to be destroyed too. The Mirror is quickly turning into one of them.

It lacks integrity. Perhaps Martin Belam would like to remind himself of the meaning of that word.

But I digress. Traditional newspapers are dying, you see. This is why their online presence has to be strengthed with regular visits, in order to generate advertising revenue. Strengthening can be anything from publishing compelling, original content, or knocking out crap like “if I wanted a Doctor Who musical, I’d like it to be like the Buffy musical episode, not an extended choral performance.” It’s trite, shallow and intended not for fans, but for the coffee swilling hangover merchants to chuckly over during their morning skive in the middle cubicle. In short, the article isn’t for the likes of us, instead aiming a childish (perhaps someone pitched it as “a sideways look”) swipe at the show, all hung on that emotive topic, the Omnirumour.

Interestingly, Martin Belam claims to be an “online news veteran”, although we really can’t find anything that backs this up with any solidity, other than his expertise in cynical article writing. You could find out more about him via his blog, martinbelam.com, for instance, although he seems to ooze smug, so it may prove icky, of not a waste of time. He’s also on Twitter, @martinbelam – be polite, though, should you find yourself asking about the meaning of that article on The Mirror, and whether he really thinks that Curse of the Black Spot, The Time of the Doctor, Fear Her, The Idiot’s Lantern, In the Forest of the Night, Kill the Moon, Closing Time, Robot of Sherwood, The Rings of Akhaten and Aliens of London/World War Three should really be deleted, and what he thinks that says about his appreciation of culture, or his own relationship with Doctor Who.

Just remember: somewhere, there’s a fan for whom one or more of these episodes are among their favourites.

Belam isn’t the only one engaged in this nonsense, however. One look at Metro and What Culture! reveals Doctor Who-related articles written by people… well, people who really should know better, fans with their own sites and heavy Twitter presences. But these guys – who are presumably making some useful extra cash and raising their profiles as fans (and good luck to them) – know where the line is.

Aliens of London - Slitheen

For all of our attempts to generate not-very-much-money, like the majority of Doctor Who sites we’ve never sold out. There have been a handful of controversial posts on our own site over the years, but never have we sunk so low as to attack Doctor Who. For a supposed fan (identified by the details shared in The Mirror article) to mock the missing episodes in a drawn out, pointless rant “listicle” is bad enough; that it appears on the online site of a major national newspaper is frankly insulting. While I’m not writing and editing this site, I’m responsible for content in the online security and Linux sections at www.makeuseof.com, the web’s largest independent technology site (a description that really doesn’t do it justice). At no point would I (or any colleague there) dare to insult either the readership or any community in such a way.

It lacks integrity. Perhaps Martin Belam would like to remind himself of the meaning of that word. It certainly doesn’t apply to selling out on your favourite TV show (his Twitter account page loves the soulless Cybermen) for a few quid.

Oh, and why are we not linking to the post? Well, it doesn’t deserve to be read by the esteemed readership of Kasterborous. Labelling a series of insults as “fun” or “satirical” doesn’t cut it, frankly. It’s horrendous clickbait, and those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.

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  1. Martin Belam says:

    I would have thought the fact that I finished the article with a poll asking the reader whether they’d rather delete me than the episodes indicated the spirit the article was intended with, but obviously YMMV.

    • Dr Moo says:

      The choice is obvious…

    • K Doctor Who News says:

      🙂 Mileage always varies. But the issue isn’t with the tone of the article, it is who will read it. Doctor Who fans might, sure, and see the funny side. Non-fans will see the modern “wobbly sets”, namely poor CGI or bad stories. As a fan, and writer, you seem to have overlooked offering a positive representation of the show on a mainstream media outlet, and that is worrying.

      • Martin Belam says:

        “As a fan, and writer, you seem to have overlooked offering a positive representation of the show on a mainstream media outlet, and that is worrying.”

        Well we published this the same week so http://www.mirror.co.uk/usvsth3m/heres-everything-first-new-doctor-5390536


        • K Doctor Who News says:

          Oh, well that makes it alright then!

          Seriously, I think you’re willfully missing the point. Your about page (http://martinbelam.com/about-martin-belam/) indicates you’re a smart chap. So you leave me puzzled.

          • Smithereens says:

            When you’re puzzled about who the stupid one is in the argument, it’s quite possible that it might be you.

          • K Doctor Who News says:

            Actually I was giving Martin the benefit of the doubt. Professional courtesy.

            But please, feel free to outline exactly how I’m being stupid (a word you introduced into this discussion). I’ll read it with amusement.

          • Smithereens says:

            I’m sure you will. The smug amusement of a tribe so commonly afflicted with Dunning Kruger vision; the entitled fan.

            The fact you think you’re in any position to give a journalist of Martin Belam’s stature “the benefit of the doubt” (to even dare to patronise him) says it all really.

          • K Doctor Who News says:

            Hmm. Who are you, exactly, hiding behind your fake name and grey man icon, instructing me on how I should or should not address someone on this site?

            That I “dare to patronise him”? Should I doff my cap instead? Tug my forelock? Gobble him off?

            You address me as an “entitled fan”; your disdain is plain to see. Yet you don’t know me, and no one has made such judgements about you. All I’ve done is attempt to defend my favourite show, make a point about how it can be perceived by non fans when it is misrepresented. Oh, but I’m an “entitled fan”, right, so I’m not allowed to do that.

            News: I am allowed to do that. I am allowed to open a discussion on this topic, and I am allowed to address “a journalist of Martin Belam’s stature” in whatever way I see fit.

            So: why are you here, exactly? What do you think you add to this discussion? Because I’ll tell you something, it’s far less than you think.

          • کثافت سگ says:

            You’re taking this to heart and you shouldn’t. It’s not worth getting angry over mate, especially in the manner in which you’re lashing out, which is undignified, especially when you start attacking other fans because they aren’t agreeing with you (if you want an echo chamber, probably best not to add a talkback to your site).

            I appreciate that you’re not happy with the article, but Mr. Belam has indicated that he wasn’t trying to cause offense so why is it so important to win this one? Just move on. It’s only tabloid schlock. Not worth the energy.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            You speak a lot of sense, sir.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            It’s not good to place people on pedestals: they get giddy and their nose starts to bleed. But then, this isn’t about Martin Belam, is it?
            Journalists write with the intent that their articles are read. This supposes that the reader is entitled to react and even to respond. That is not patronising; it is fair comment.
            This is a site that comments on items concerning (sometimes tangentially) the world of Doctor Who. For the most part, this is done with respect and restraint. It is a fun place to air one’s views.
            But even on those (thankfully rare) occasions when it is not like that, such a personal attack on anyone- and especially the owner of the site- is ill-advised at best. At worst it is unacceptable. Disagree, by all means, but don’t let it get personal.

    • TheLazyWomble says:

      “the spirit the article was intended with”? Seriously?

  2. Smithereens says:

    Under the old comment system, Christian banned me for complaining about a massive spoiler in a headline. See he’s yet to acquire an appropriate sense of proportion.

  3. Dr Moo says:

    How dare anyone suggest the deletion of The Time of the Doctor! He should be ashamed of himself!

    • Exactly what I thought. Love & Monsters would have been right at the top for me.

      • Martin Belam says:

        Nah, Love & Monsters is alright – if for nothing else that it was a flawed attempt to do Doctor Lite and not burn the lead team out on a 13 episode season which basically leads to “Blink” existing. It was actually “Planet Of The Dead” that was #11 on the list that didn’t make the final cut.

        • James Lomond says:

          Agree with pretty much everything you said in the article (except I’d rather flay the authors than wipe the eps) but here, sir, you cross a line…

          Can we please be clear that, whilst there are what would otherwise be *redeeming features*, Love & Monsters is in ABSOLUTELY NO WAY “alright”.

          The monologue to camera is fine, sweet even. Telling the story from the perspective of metaphor-fans is fine, possibly even intriguing e.g. if they’d kept the Tom Baker scarf flash-back with his mother’s death etc. The idea of a monster that absorbs people and keeps them prisoner is horrific and potentially perfect Doctor Who material. But- adults putting on children’s voices and Peter Kay, taking the mick out of Doctor Who by ramping up the panto-camp in a GREEN FAT SUIT *AND* NAPPY is less like actual Doctor Who than the Curse of Fatal Death.

          And it was quite clear from the Blue Peter competition winner’s illustration of the Absorbaloff that it was supposed to be the size of a bus so you could see whole people floating around inside.

          Planet of the Dead is also terrible but while it suffers heavily from the implicit Carry On wink-to-the-audience that dogged the show until Moffat took over, no one *actually* thinks they’re in a pantomime.

          • I heard that Ian Levine inspired the abzorbaloff, with the episode being Russell T Davies taking a stab at the bad side of fandom but for me, like on many occasions, he ends up getting too absorbed (no pun intended) in his own feelings. I think that’s the problem with both Davies and Moffat for me – they can be great, and I love most of Moffat’s stuff, but sometimes they get so lost in their own world, they end up doing the stuff they want to regardless if it will work or make sense. They can be very self indulgent

        • Dr Moo says:

          Love & Monsters is ( in over fifty years and more than 800 episodes to choose from) the single worst episode ever. It has a lot going for it perhaps but so much of it doesn’t work so that it crosses the line and the result is just plain insulting to the show at best and a crime against television at worst. It’s only made worse by the fact that (as James Lomond has pointed out) it has everything it needs so that it could have been great.

          But I’ve had a conversation along these lines before and have no desire to have it again so I’ll leave the matter of this episode here. Let us never speak of the abomination that is Love & Monsters ever again.

        • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

          Love and Monsters starts as a strong episode, but descends quickly into garbage. I think I really had my own philosophy best outlined by James on the Podkast. A story can have a bad beginning, a bad middle, but it can not have a bad ending.
          The fact that the deaths of some very lovable characters were treated as comedy and not tragedy (someone being a face on an ass) was one strike. Also, floor-face was another. It was the same crime as the pig-person romance in The Daleks Take Manhattan. Sorry, but the ugly truth is that people have a certain amount of vanity, and sexual appeal is a factor (it varies how much it matters person to person), but exceeding few people are going to make love to pig-people and slabs of face (those that would, wouldn’t have been interested in those people in their prior normal states). And it also suggests that those victims’s lives continued on happily because their romantic interests proclaimed continued interest in sex. Admittedly, I just stated that a sex life is an important (not the most important necessarily) factor in human psychology (well, all animals really), but that alone doesn’t fix everything. Being a slab of face is depressing. It’s not a normal human handicap to triumph over.

  4. Random Comments says:

    I love KTM and RoA, and quite enjoy CT, RoS, and AOL/WWIII. And I certainly wouldn’t want to get rid of (most of) the others.

  5. The best part of @MartinBelam:disqus’s article is clearly the poll at the end.

  6. کثافت سگ says:

    I fear the writer of this article is taking things a little too personally. It’s just a TV show and people have a right to poke fun at it when they choose. Satire is an important cornerstone of a free press, irrespective of the nature if the publication in which it appears.

  7. itsonlythesoaps says:

    I think the idea of deleting any episodes can be triggering due to the history of wiping in television. So much classic television has been lost (radio too) as it wasn’t recorded as it was a live broadcast. In other cases, the original recordings were lost or they were destroyed. One famous story is how the defunct Dumont network had all their master tapes thrown in the East River, so nearly everything that aired on that earlier station group is gone for good. It isn’t funny for some fans who love particular shows (whether Who or other programs) that can never be seen again or for the first time. DW fans are lucky that only so few episodes are gone, and there is hope some more could reappear. Other viewers will never be able to see particular episodes ever and have to rely on memories of fans who were watching back then or secondary sources.

    • Smithereens says:

      ” think the idea of deleting any episodes can be triggering…”

      Finally. political correctness has actually gone mad.

      • TheLazyWomble says:

        In what way?

        • Smithereens says:

          The use of the term “triggering” – usually a warning for people who have experienced extreme trauma like rape or domestic violence – now applied to the idea the whimsical idea that episodes of Doctor Who should be wiped.

          • Dr Moo says:

            It’s supposed to be a reference to the lost episodes of the show dating back to the sixties, something upsetting to us fans. It’s maybe a little strong but it gets the point across. Don’t read too much into it.

          • Smithereens says:

            I know exactly what it’s meant to refer to.

          • Dr Moo says:

            Then what’s the problem???

          • Smithereens says:

            The serious use of the term in trivial circumstances.

          • Dr Moo says:

            I think I’ve covered that in my earlier comment saying of the word that “it’s maybe a little strong but it gets the point across”.

          • Smithereens says:

            A point without validity.

          • Dr Moo says:

            The point is fine. There are missing episodes, many beyond hope of recovery, and so to joke about repeating the process today is inappropriate. How is that even remotely “without validity”?

          • کثافت سگ says:

            A sense of perspective is needed perhaps. I know many (well, most) fans would love to see the old episodes back. But let’s remember that we’re talking about a TV show here. It’s not that important enough that people should be taking offense at this sort of thing.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            I didn’t know that “triggering” had that connotation. Thank you for educating me.

          • itsonlythesoaps says:

            When I refer to real trauma, I use the term “trauma triggering” not just triggering. I just meant that the concept sets people off, provokes, or can upset. It wasn’t meant to be overly “politically correct”. So Dr Moo you did explain what I was trying to get across.

          • Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

            ‘Triggering’ is a world synonymous to ‘initiating’. Dictionaries are available online. Try looking up ‘pretentious’ and ‘troll’. I’m aware of the idea of ‘trigger words’. But the word trigger on its own does not equate “rape flashback”.

      • Dr Moo says:

        Political correctness has already gone mad in Dr Who via the latest incarnation of the Master.

      • Philip says:

        That’s not political correctness gone mad in the slightest, Smithereens. I really don’t understand any point you’re trying to make here. And for someone who thinks all this is trivial, you seem to be taking it very seriously.

  8. TheLazyWomble says:

    I may be wrong, Christian, but you’re not entirely happy, are you?

  9. KevC says:

    I’m sure Martin had tongue firmly in cheek. Some episodes such as Fear Her and In The Forest of the Night didn’t really hit the mark.Kill the Moon was just silly but love them spider (bacteria) things. Still not sure how them acorns grew into oaks overnight in Forest and frankly haven’t bothered thinking about it. I’m sure Martin would agree that some episodes such as Vincent and the Doctor, Blink (obviously) and Night of the Doctor to name but three have been pure class episodes(or mini episode). Anyway nobody gonna wipe them as I have all the DVD’S hidden securely up in Highgate. Now gonna watch ‘The Expedition’. Nice grainy black and white. CLASSIC STUFF!

  10. Janice Thorn says:

    urg. mean, spiteful people are so pitiable. I feel sorry for them. both of you should have just kept your mouths shut.

  11. Semi-Evil Semi-Genius says:

    I’m a bit torn on this issue.
    It is true that a lot of desperate newspapers have basically changed their business model to clickbait, which is pathetic. And an article that focuses on the idea of deleting episodes is in that realm to a degree. Also, there’s always someone who likes what I perceive to be a terrible episode. And in fact, a lot of my least favorite episodes have some good stuff to them; they just need just rewrites by someone with a clear head.
    On the other hand, the article isn’t that serious. And there are some terrible episodes I wish Who didn’t acknowledge; if they didn’t exist, I’d be happier. Particularly, episodes that rewrite canon or change a major aspect of the show. I think Rose is a rather lackluster story, but I’d keep it because it doesn’t harm Who in my opinion (and it’s not awful). I generally dislike the Slitheen, but I wouldn’t delete it; in fact, changing the title on the “World War III” episode would pacify my biggest gripe (it’s an inaccurate moniker, and I feel that title would better serve in the case that a future writer actually creates a story about the hypothetical conflict).
    Things I would delete: the War Doctor (not an entirely bad concept, but not necessary, and the fact that it offsets the history of the Doctor from what was established – had that Karn potion granted him a single extra incarnation and that one change would have made me immensely happy), the premature regeneration cycle renewal (War Doctor and Metacrisis Doctor counting as two), and the overabundance of River Song. But these destroying these things would take legions of episodes, and wouldn’t be worth it. I love Day of the Doctor, and William Hurt’s performance; I just feel Eccleston or even McGann should’ve had that part. River Song could’ve been great too. She should have made less appearances or more; with less time, downplay her “better than every character ever” attitude, and with more time, develop her more fully into a well-realized character. And Rose’s clinginess; that tragic farewell just kinda shat upon every other companion ever. I just feel that if the Doctor misses any one person than any other, it should be Susan.

  12. Robert Lythgoe says:

    Aliens Of London/World War Three was pretty good if you remove the embarrassing farting.
    Love And Monsters, Rings Of Akhaten and Kill The Moon are more divisive than negatively received, and to be honest, I fall on the positive side for all of them, especially Kill The Moon. Most of the other episodes this guy mentions in this rant aren’t even all that bad either. Closing Time? Time Of The Doctor? Eh? I didn’t notice anything majorly wrong with them except for the Cybermen being killed with love and TOTD being a bit overblown.
    To say I disagree with this guy is putting it mildly.

    Just my opinion, though.

  13. Kamelo says:

    The Robot Of Sherwood. On that one, I couldn’t say I’d be that bothered if it was trashed. It’s garbage. Complete and utter.

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