Let’s first of all make something clear: we’re intrigued about the casting of Matt Smith as Doctor Who, and wish the bloke all the best in the role. By many accounts, he’s a good actor, and we won’t be judging him until he’s got a few episodes under his belt. That’s fair.
With that caveat in place, we can’t hide the fact that many have been speculating that having a young Doctor Who may have been influenced by the BBC’s need to keep one of its most lucrative merchandising streams live and kicking. After all, could you really have seen five year olds going to school with a picture of Bill Nighy on the side of their lunch box?
It also, we suspect, fans the flames in some quarters when the BBC punts out an announcement like this:
”Following the announcement that Matt Smith will fill the shoes of one of British TV’s most coveted roles, BBC Worldwide today confirmed Doctor Who as one of its priority licensing brands through 2009, Series 5 in 2010 and beyond.
The BBC’s commercial arm has also today announced the renewal and extension of the Doctor Who master toy licence with Character Options. Character, who has held the licence since the new series launched in 2005, will spearhead the development of new product featuring Matt Smith. BBC Worldwide will develop new style elements for licensees for Series 5 with product expected to hit retail in Summer 2010.”
Neil Ross Russell, the managing director of BBC Worldwide Children’s and Licensing then chipped in with some words of encouragement. “We’re thrilled about the announcement of Matt Smith as the new Doctor,” he chirped, “not least because of the opportunities it gives our creative team and licensees. Doctor Who is a long term priority for us as a commercial business and with Matt on board, we will be looking to develop a new style guide with fresh creative elements to inspire our licensing partners.”
The upshot of this is we can expect an abundance of Matt Smith merchandise, which is no surprise, and that BBC Worldwide will happily milk it as much as possible. Again, fair enough.
It does make you wonder if the days of the 50+ Doctor are gone for good, though?
8 January 2009