Why The Fades and Doctor Who Confidential were cancelled

News Andrew Blair 24 Aug 2012 - 09:31

BBC Three Controller Zai Bennett has been chatting about the reasons The Fades and Doctor Who Confidential are no more…

We know we weren’t alone in wishing that The Fades’  recent BAFTA win would reopen a window for the show’s possible renewal, but according to BBC Three controller Zai Bennett, it’s not to be.

The reason? In addition to the 15% pro rata cuts to the channel’s budget, it’s a question of viewer age.

Speaking at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Bennett explained that his vision for BBC Three is as a home for new talent appealing to 16-34 year olds. The Fades, though popular with an older audience, failed to impress the coveted Young Adult demographic, and so it had to go.

Unless another channel picks it up then, The Fades is not due to return. Being Human, on the other hand, continues to make an impression with the target audience, and will be back on BBC Three for its fifth season early next year.

Pre-watershed content, drama, and sensationalistic factual programming have been phased out on BBC Three, and the search for an identity as a home of novel programming was part of the decision to axe Doctor Who Confidential. After six series, it was also felt that there were few new avenues for the making-of show to explore.

Bennett expressed hope that BBC Three’s breadth of comedy and focus on more serious factual content (such as recent documentary series Our War) will provide critical acclaim and an adjustment of public perception for the channel. 

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I miss Dr Who Confidential. I loved seeing the genuine behind the scenes stuff (less of the actors gurning and being 'funny' for the Confidential cameras though)

Really? A show about paranormal teenagers didn't pull in the 'young adult' demographic? Oh pull the other one. I'm getting sick and tired of my age group (38 years old) getting the shaft by the Beeb recently.

So what if a 16 year old didn't like it. The Fades was one of the best things on telly this year, a decent blood pumping and funny drama. this combined with the recent commandment to the BBC to effectively abandon the 28 to 40 year old bracket from Radio 1 to tinpot local radio just p**ses me off.

I pay a licence fee, provide programmes that I might watch as well.

I will not miss Doctor Who Confidential, too much time wasted with the music videos, and rehashing clips of the episode we had just watched. Plus hardly any interviews with the supporting cast, especially those who had been on the show before such as Lynda Baron, Christopher Benjamin, Pauline Collins, which was also the perfect occasion to show clips of their previous appearances from the classic series, but alas they chose not to. And yes, too much messing around.

What a stupid and patronising reason.

I can see what they mean though about there being few avenues to left to explore regarding the genuine behind the scenes stuff in order for it to fill 45 minutes.

That's probably why we did end up with so much of the gurning actors.

However, it could just be that someone with a bit of imagination couldn't just trim it down to a 15 minute segment or find something of interest within the production of each programme that was worth exploring.

If BBC Three aren't catering for us, and BBC 1 is more populist in general, with BBC 2 being more factual and BBC 4 the more artsy one, where are they spending the license fee for those of us who prefer a bit more imagination in their storytelling than doctors, policemen, lawyers and dysfunctional families?

Yes - DWC had proven to have run out of ideas where they spent the majority of one episode following Karen Gillan round on her driving lessons.

Why on earth is EastEnders shown on BBC Three?

Bullshit

Stalking Karen Gillan... now there's a show title.

16-34yr olds, and they were not interested, what a load of bull. I'm 27 and loved it same with most of my friends who happen to be under 34.

Good riddance.

Evidently they needed the extra money to throw at unfunny teenage comedians.

While I part of me does understand the reasoning behind ditching DWC, I still can't accept the logic behind losing "The Fades"... A BAFTA winning show! So the the target demographic didn't watch as much as they would have liked! What about all the viewers that DID watch? Why not make THEM the target demographic! I fail to see the reasoning behind axing a TV show just because it turns out to be popular with a different audience to the one that was expected!

I still think it's a shame, but a part of me does understand the reasoning behind ditching DWC. However, I
still can't accept the logic behind losing "The Fades"... A BAFTA
winning show! So the the target demographic didn't watch as much as they
would have liked! What about all the viewers that DID watch? Why not
make THEM the target demographic! I fail to see the reasoning behind
axing a TV show just because it turns out to be popular with a different
audience to the one that was expected!

In 21st Century UK, age is not about the number of years you have lived for, but about your state of mind; the BBC needs to catch up with the rest of the country. The craziness of
cancelling the BAFTA award winning Fades because "too many people over 34 liked it" shouldn't need pointing out. As for Being Human - I was one of the viewers that BEGGED the BBC to commission a series and I'm in my 40's. Whoops! WHY, OH WHY, did the BBC listen to me?

Best rename it BBC 16- 34 then

Its all totall crap spouted by a paid BBC Employee to excuse what they have done with YOUR / OUR series and YOUR / OUR Money. I have said this many time. They are trying to appeal to everyone, and in doing so missing the mark. We are getting ripped off in the licence fee. For what I watch on the BBC - Doctor Who and Top Gear, I may as well take my TV out and buy them on DVD cheap. And not have the ability to watch any live Tv in the house, but my wife wont let me! Hehehe she likes the soaps etc. If I was living alone, I would not pay the fee or watch live TV any more. The excuses they come up with are pathetic. Ok fine they need to save money. So just CLOSE BBC3 and BBC4!!!!!! WE DONT NEED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!! Put any shows from there on BBC1 and BBC2 like they did for YEARS! Its just stupid. I cant even begin to imagine how the management thinks. It goes like this - " Ok we have got less money to work with, because we have been stopped by the government...What can we do? I know! NOTHING! Lets keep all the channels and make less programes to spread more thinly over all of them! " Stupid..Stupid...STUPID! Now dont get me wrong, I think the idea of having 4 BBC channels is good enough in theory....but there is not enough budget to produce shows for each of them. If it was just BBC 1 and BBC 2 I bet they could still make another series of the Fades...and do a 15 minute Doctor Who confidential. Its not our BBC, even though WE pay for it..its always going to be theirs...Its like they have decided to have a party, invited 50 friends round, but only have enough money for 1 can of beer. So they put it in a keg and top it up with water to make it go around everyone, but then its so diluted it tastes horrible, and is a waste of time....

I agree completely. Confidential had nothing new to say. A 45 minute making-of show for a 45 minute show was a little ridiculous. We were lucky it didn't get cancelled before now. I also couldn't agree more about actors who had been on the show before....we got nothing from them whatsoever. The best confidential was the one that David Tennant hosted. If he could've hosted all of them, maybe it'd still be on. Realistically, these shows should have been 15 minutes long...max. RIP, Confidential.

Surely specific age and gender demographics should be irrelevant at the BBC because they don't need the advertisers who choose to place their adverts on demographics. I can understand if it wasn't massively popular with young people most of the cultural references are about 20 years out of date. DoG may be disappointed to know that kids aren't still talking about Classic Star Wars like it was yesterday! That said I'm 23 and got the references and love the show.

I will miss Confidential. I loved all the BTS stuff.

Demographic. One of the most disgusting words in the English language.

Good to see corporate media is just as blatantly ignorant on that side of the pond as it is here in America. And yes, I blame Hollywood's influence, as well. Sucks.

Exactly, I am a ridiculously huge DW fan but even I understand the logic for ditching DWC (although cutting it to 15mins would have made more sense). However the Fades was *exactly* the kind of thing the BBC needs to be associated with right now, good production values, good quality story telling and not afraid to take a few risks. I love the BBC, I really do, but they are so scared of taking any risks now that they utterly fail to produce the kind of original content their famous for.

I hope that if we get a documentary or two celebrating the 50th anniversary next year we get a balanced selection of clips. Some of the recent BBC and BBC America behind the scenes productions refuse to acknowledge that Doctor Who started before 2005!

That would be excellent.

So CBeebies is for 0-7 (let's say) BBC1 is for 8-16, BBC3 for 16-34...

Do we get BBC 2? Radio 4?

Nope...Beeb 2 are 16-34, as is Radio 1 and Channel 4 and Channel 5. ITV is 16-34, as is ITV+1 (obviously) ITV3/ITV4 are 50+ for all the repeats of the 60s, as we'd guess is Hallmark. SKY is 16-34, as is MTV, VH1, Sky Movies, Virgin, Nickleodeon, Babestation, LIVE TV, The God Channel, Red Hot Adult, Al Jazeera, NBS, HBO, CNN, News 24...

Do we even have a demographic now? Never mind a channel.

Oh, there's always Psiffy...which shows 2nd rate Wrestling...oh...

Think I'll watch the re-repeated Top Gear marathon on Dave. Again.

I watched half of the first Fades ep and was so bored I gave up. Maybe I should give it another go based on my love of supernatural dramas, and Naomi from Skins.

Arse! The Fades was excellent (38)

I beg to differ. As a 21 year old I can testify that amongst the people I know Classic Star Wars is treated with even more reverence than it is by Tim and Mike in Spaced!

I can understand cancelling Dr Who Confidential, it was basically a dvd making of featurette stretched out to series length. But The Fades was great, would have preferred another series rather than Being Human which has become a pale shadow of its former self

So 35 and overs a dirty word for the BBC,seems like the same bunch of morons are running Radio 1 as well.By my reckoning now i'm 51 i'll have sweet F A to watch or listen to in the future.
These idiots are paid with my license fee,I'd like the majority of it back please,tossers.

I teach 16-24 year olds and have one upstairs in his room. They don't watch TV. They spend their time shooting aliens on the XBox or online. They are out socialising and getting themselves a bad reputation.

The ones who do have the attention span to watch an entire TV program ... Feel patronised by the shows that are made for them (Snog, Marry, Avoid? Please) ... So watch old programmes they have downloaded or programmes that aren't specifically made for them.

HAving an entire channel aimed at a generation who don't watch TV is a fool's errand. Sadly, i concur with the argument to shut the channel down (and News 24 while they're at it - since it does nothing that several other channels don't do already).

The vast cost saving could then be spent on programming for the remaining channels - aimed at whoever feels like watching them.

Then there would be money to put The Fades on BBC2 where it belongs!

Oh please BBC
I'm a 17 year old teen myself and I desperately wished the BAFTA win would also give the show a second season. It was easily the best new british drama of last year. So when I saw the shows that the channel had renewed I was disgusted by the amount of tat including various reality TV shows (although I am a fan of Jack Whitehall's 'Bad Education').
The Fades offered originality, it even earned a BAFTA. The demographic reason is a load of rubbish. I'm deeply saddened and desperately hope that another channel picks up the show. Perhaps Watch, as they seem to be offering some great drama.

That is true and they aren't supposed to be a broad indication of today's young, it is only two of them!

Yes but apparantly we're supposed to go listen to tinpot local radio until we're ready to transfer to Radio 2. This of course means that we will not be allowed to listen to heavy metal, decent rap/hip hop, harder dance music. We must just listen to 2 songs, 5 mins of adverts then another song.

Ozzy it's worse. If we have a TV, we MUST pay a TV licence to watch TV. Most of that goes to the BBC (mainly funded thru the licence), so it pi**es us off when they concentrate on demographics when it should cater multiple programmes to all.

Of for F***s sake! These are great shows with great veiwing figures. Screw the rest!

Radio 1 has always been aimed at a young audience hasn't it? Personally I listen mainly to BBC 6music, Not sure where this "go listen to tinpot local radio" idea comes from? 6 music is a varied & interesting station, the sort of place John Peel would have called home

I'm 32 and loved it. In 2 years time I guess I would be like the Invisible Woman to the BBC - unless I liked tedious dull education programs and repeats of old shows. This is the most ridiculous reason I have ever heard to cancel a show. Dump BBC3 and BBC4 cut out the repeats on BBC1 and BBC2 and then you have room for everything on the two channels. If the BBC really wants to appeal to a younger audience they should focus on internet shows for that target age.

John's son, Tom Ravenscroft is a presenter on BBC6Music, I believe, and presented the first 6Music John Peel Award

Perhaps the real reason was to save money to pay for 30 dedicated Olympic BBC channels? Torchwood, White Van Man, QI and many others moved channels, why not the Fades? Didn't care too much for it myself, but I know a winner when I see one!

I'm amazed that they say their key demographic goes as high as 34. It seems almost entirely geared towards teenagers now, if you compare their output to the sort of shows they used to air when they first started (Monkey Dust, Catterick, etc.). Such a narrow focus is unhealthy. Just make good programmes and trust that an audience will find them eventually.

I'm 21 and absolutely loved The Fades. I'm gutted they cancelled it.

I am sad this was cancelled, It was one of the only original shows on BBC America, and a good one at that

Wading through all the usual boring "Why must I pay this TV tax it's so unfaaaaiiiiir!" whining, the fact of the matter is that DWC had runs its course - it should never have been stretched to 45 minutes, some of the season 5 and 6 episodes were desperately padded.Yes,we get it, Matt Smith, Karen and Arthur get on well and have a laugh. It didn't have to be that way. Regardless of whatever demographic The Fades was aimed at, the real truth is that its viewing figures alone didn't justify a pick-up. It was ultimately a victim of its own uniqueness and didn't have a bg mainstream appeal because it was just too dark and 'out-there'. Anyway, aren't BBC Three doing some sort of zombie mini-series next year?? The BBC ultimately just can't win; they're damned if they do and they're damned if they don't. But people who whinge about paying for the huge raft of services the BBC offer - whether they take advantage of them or not - need a good slap. Everyone in the UK who owns a TV MUST be obliged to pay for a licence just to make sure that the BBC, the last real bastion of culture in this now sport-obsessed, reality-enrgorged country, doesn't get swept away.

But the thing is, it WASN'T a winner!! It had poor viewing figures generally and it didn't appeal to the audience it was created for/aimed at. BAFTA or not, it's tough to justify a second series of show no-one's much interested in.

But they're not!!!!! The facts speaks for themselves; DWC waned badly last year and the Fades barely registered 500,000 viewers. These shows weren't big hitters. It's silly to let personal taste shout down factual evidence. I was gutted when the BBC cancelled the Survivors remake after two sereis but the simple fact was the numbers were badly down in the second year (although that was a fault of the schedulers, imo who started the second series - it rated well - and then rested it for a football match; it never recovered from that break)...but it's really hard to scream and shout when a show you like is performing poorly. That's the way it goes sometimes.

(sigh) But it also wasn't popular enough with that audience. It just wasn't a hit show. It happens.

Ridiculous. I honestly don't see why the age should matter, as long as they're not too young (bearing in mind some scenes may not be suitable for younger viewers). But how cares if they're over 34? I know that at 37 I'm just as interested in the kind of programmes I was at that age. Or 27 for that matter.

The local radio bit was a direct quote on Radio 4 I believe during a discussion after Chris Moyles announced his leaving Radio 1. The discision to go with Grimshaw was to appeal to a younger audience as Moyles attracted people of 28 yrs plus mainly. This decree basically came from the BBC Charter that states Radio 1 should only ever cater for the 16 to 25 yr old bracket. Anyone between 26 - 40 (at least) should be catered for by local radio (Jack FM not withstanding, I hate local radio). Post 40 yrs old can go to Radio 2 or 6Music.

You don't happen to work for the BBC do you. If so, expalin why we have to put up with a repeat of Eastenders on BBC3 when the vast majority of the age group BBC3 aims at can get access to iPlayer. Why not use the timeslot for original drama. Oh and please quote the source for The Fades viewing figures, because I cannot believe 500,000 at all.

Oooooh lemme guess! Pmount voted me down.

Let's's not forget, this is the numpty who also decommissioned Ideal too!

I cant believe it. I really enjoyed Fades and was looking forward to the next series. I had only just come to terms with the fact there wasn't going to be another series of Sirens. Disgusting.

EastEnders is repeated because it gets good figures and gets an audience in the BBC3 demographic (and I'm not keen on the word either!), simple as that. The Fades figures were 870,00, 575,000,582,000 and 654,000 for the first four episodes. Numbers not available for the last two as they didn't figure in the BBC3 Top Ten, the lowest figure for which each of those weeks was around 600,000. You do the math, as they say. The Fades just didn't attract a LARGE enough audience, never mind the RIGHT one. But I agree that the BBC should be honest enough to say it (and other axed shows) didn't do well enough in the ratings, we'd all know where we are then.

I hear you. It's a sad situation you're stuck in. Forced to pay for a service that caters to corporate profit, even without being saddled with the commercially-paid system the US is stuck with. But, that's rampant and unrestrained capitalistic greed for you. No more, no less. :(

I think BBCA just doesn't have the rights to show the Classic clips. Aren't the licenses separate between Classic (1963 - 1996) and Modern (2005 - on) ? I think that's why Big Finish can't use Modern Who stuff. OR it's just the age-old simple marketing technique of "hey kids, look, it's the Doctor YOU know! oooooh! aaaaaah!" {insert Tweenant fans squeeing with corporately-approved lustful thoughts} ;p

Don't know anything about any voting, sorry!! I just posted a couple of comment...

Shame. The two best BBC3 programmes had to go...

No problems with your argument against DWC and to some degree I can get behind your comment about whinging over the TV license as it is an unavoidable tax these days for anyone who consumes some form of entertainment. However, I do think we're right to call out the BBC on how they spend that money.

Take the save 6music campaign. Enough people moaned about it's imminent demise that it survived and seems to be getting a lot more recognition than it used to.

If enough people make a stand about original genre programming on the BBC then perhaps we can sway them. the argument isn't about giving the corporation another Who-sized franchise but aiming more at the TWD/Game of Thrones audience who appreciate proper fantasy drama but with a British sensibility. Admittedly the Fades started out aimed at teens/YA's but with it's second season they could easily have shifted the focus once they knew who was watching. Being Human only really became a hit with it's second series after Word of Mouth was so good on the first. The same could have happened here and instead the BBC have thrown away a talented cast only to start over scratch.

If they can learn from the experience, great! How often do TV executives do that though? We pay our TV tax we're entitled to moan.

That's down to marketing though. The people it was aimed at didn't fancy it and the people who might have enjoyed it didn't watch it because they thought it wasn't for them.

It's only that crossover group who will watch anything genre related that can really speak up for it and judge its merits compared to everything else they've seen.

What they should have done following the Bafta was put it on BBC 2 at 9pm so that those who avoid anything on BBC three as trash would give it a go.

I would argue that 500k is pretty good for BBC three. Look at it's own commissioning bumpf where they quote Pramface, White Van Man and Him & Her as successes with an figures of 469k, 755k and 594k respectively. For a first series that doesn't necessarily have broad appeal then 500k looks pretty damn impressive. This shows that the demographic IS the key factor here and not enough of that audience met the target not that the audience wasn't big enough.

Fades, apart from Dr Who was one of the best things on the BBC!!!.

The Fades was excellent intelligent programming and I am really very annoyed at its being cancelled. I have just about given up on ever watching intelligent drama again. (Peed at the loss of Dirk Gently also.)

The problem with the younger generations is that we don't watch TV in the 'classic' sense of sitting in the sofa and watching it. We use the internet to do that, and tv channel don't measure the amount of people that download theirs shows of even watch them in their website. And also, teenagers don't watch tv more than the most famous shows. Here in Spain, if I talked about The Fades in mi high scholl I would be really surprised if anyone knew the show. They know Dexter, Grey's Anatomy, maybe Downton Abbey (but just 'cause if aired in one of our network channels) but most of them haven't even heard of Mad Men or Breaking Bad, which are shows that attract a lot of attention in the States.
Btw, is funny hearing you complain about BBC. Here we wish we had a channel half as good as BBC.

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