Steven Moffat on the people who spoil Doctor Who

With the world awash with potential Doctor Who spoilers, Steven Moffat has something to say to those who seek out to ruin the show's surprises...

Steven Moffat has come out all guns blazing this morning, in an attack on those people who spoil the plot lines for Doctor Who. You might, by the end of reading this, want to warmly shake him by the hand.

His particular ire was reserved for those who attended the press launch for the new series earlier this year, and then proceeded to post the plot of the first two episodes online.

Talking to BBC Radio 5 Live, he said, “You can imagine how much I hate them. It’s only fans who do this, or they call themselves fans. I wish they could go and be fans of something else.”

I don’t think many of us would disagree with that.

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He continued, in specific relation to the example outlined above, saying, “It’s heartbreaking in a way, because you’re trying to tell stories, and stories depend on surprise. So to have some twit who came to a press launch, write up a story in the worst, most ham-fisted English you can imagine and put it on the Internet. I just hope that guy never watched my show again, because that’s a horrific thing to do.”

Again, it’s hard to disagree with. Just to be clear, too: we may be guilty of ham-fisted English, but not of posting such spoilers.

It’s a cultural problem, though, that Moffat and most TV shows are fighting against. And I can’t help but wonder if it’s the soap opera model that started it. Because soaps now have to work so hard to keep people interested that it’s second nature to spill major plot developments months ahead, to ensure people remain hooked. Cross that with the Internet, though, where it only takes one idiot to spoil everything, and it’s borderline impossible to keep things under wraps.

As Moffat himself told 5 Live, “The tragedy is you have to work hard at that now.” He added, “Stories depend on shocking people. Stories are the moments that you didn’t see coming, that are what live in you and burn forever. If you are denied those, it’s vandalism.”

Again, he’s bang on the money.

Perhaps the only benefit of a culture of knowing so much in advance of a TV show’s transmission is that it can sometimes be playing to a show’s advantage. So, by unleashing so many possible theories, it means that the real story points get lost in the midst of so many possibilities. Ashes To Ashes played that card terrifically well, for example.

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Yet, it’s hard to combat when someone who has seen an episode in advance, a massively privileged position to be in, then abuses that. And with that in mind, if anything, Steven Moffat has been too soft on the people involved. Vandals only begins to cover it.

You can read more on this at BBC News, here.