Friday, 11 November 2011

Cash Cows Go To Cardiff!

As I write this, the BBC (or BBC Worldwide) have dropped a bollock by announcing an official convention, with Matt Smith and Steven Moffat. Great news! Well, not really. To get into the convention, you have to part with £99 which doesn’t include autographs (£20/25 per signature, depending on whichever person you want to sign) and photographs at the same price.  All that is before you have to think about travel to and from Cardiff, food, drink and hotels...it all mounts up. I’m not for one minute saying that you shouldn’t go, as that’s up to you, but surely you can see that this is just a blatant rip-off? Using Doctor Who as a tool to rake in money in the most obscene way possible – by ripping off the very people who love it.

And I’ve not even mentioned the best bit yet – Children aren’t really welcome...

You heard me right, Children and Families - the very people the show is made for, are NOT advised to attend. What does the convention contain? Lapdancers with Cybermen masks on? I’m sorry, I just don’t understand. Doctor Who is supposed to be for EVERYONE, not just those adults fortunate enough to have bags of money at their disposal. Of course the FAQ’s section of the site gives some half-arsed excuses such as ‘it’ll spoil the magic’. Or perhaps the opportunity to fleece adults with cash on the hip, is too good to turn down?

It’s interesting to note that the last official conventions (in Longleat in the 1980’s) were affordable for all (the equivalent of around a tenner today) and children were permitted. Would it not be better to charge a reasonable price? It’s not as if they’ll be making any losses and the promotion it would give Doctor Who, as a franchise (I do despise that word) would mean that it’ll be received warmly and lauded by the public for giving them the opportunity to meet the stars from their favourite telly show. Instead, all they’re doing is alienating people and it really doesn’t help when they’re flogging tickets 6 weeks before Christmas either…

All of this has made me wonder why Doctor Who has become this cash cow that it doesn’t have to be. Success is a great thing, but it shouldn’t come to the extent that it alienates its loyal fans, the very people who keep it going. I’m not going to the official convention because I can’t afford it. Does that make me less of a fan? Am I missing out? Am I bollocks! I just hope that one day the BBC will think ‘Are we damaging our reputation by rolling out these events and charging prices which the normal working person can’t really afford?’ But they won’t, as they’ve got money to make. Expect another record year for the profits of BBC Worldwide in 2012 (and they’ll still be cutting budgets and sacking people!)

Sadly, fans will still pay it, as they are caught up in the corporate machine that tells them YOU’RE MISSING OUT if you don’t go. You don’t know you’re doing it, but you do. It’s like when you walk into a supermarket for some milk and come out with more items than you intended. It’s automatically there, ingrained in peoples minds “Oooh I’ll never get to see these people again”, you’ll think. You will see them again. It’s called waiting. Maybe if people said NO on principle, maybe the BBC might change their minds? But as I said, people will always pay it, desperate to see two people they see on television. It’ll sell out and the organisers will think its okay to continue to fleece Doctor Who fans, as ‘they’ll snap anything up’. Is there anyone that doesn’t think that’s not quite right? People will probably point out the exhibitions, the various demonstrations and Q&A’s make up for the price. Is that really worth £99 though? You could go to the Doctor Who Experience in London for a lot less. And we had Confidential for many years before the short-sighted decision to axe it. And at least kids could watch and learn from it. But did it spoil the magic for them, I wonder?

I’m in a mind to say: shove your convention up your arse BBC Worldwide, I’d much prefer to hand over cash for a proper fan convention, who actually CARE about the show and its fans.

But I won’t!

9 comments:

  1. Agree with every word you say here! The Starfury one sounds 20x better and I really hope that IF the beeb do an event in 2013 they learn from the ridiculous price mistake!
    Reading into it you have to BOOK AUTOGRAPHS! Today I feel sad to be a Beeb fan :(

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  2. Cheers, considering the Starfury one is charging £90 for three days worth of events, it's good value compared to the BBC event...

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  3. and of course by only offering 1500 tickets per day they can claim it is a 'sold out success'

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  4. Daniel, you have hit the nail on the head. I completely agree with everything that you wrote.

    I wonder also just how much of an experience of the "special" events - such as the prosthetic make-up demonstration - it will be possible for an attendee to have for their £99. After all there will be 1,499 other people there, so it's hardly likely to be "up close and personal" is it?

    Maybe, just maybe, there won't be enough people prepared to part with £99 for the delights on offer. Despite being a fan of the show since 1963 and having driven from Portsmouth to Cardiff for the exhibition of WHO props at the Red Dragon Centre a few years ago, I hope that this event is a failure and that the organisers have to re-think their game-plan.

    Meanwhile here's something that WHO fans will be able to enjoy for free next year - a semi-professional Fan Film remake of The Power of the Daleks, starring 7 (yes, seven) full-size New Series Dalek props all painted in sixties livery of silver with blue hemis. Once post-production is complete the film will be released on YouTube and teaser trailers are being released now. Here is teaser number 4:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/PowerOTDaleks#p/a/u/1/hdTUKi8cmvg

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  5. "It'll spoil the magic."

    Have they bothered checking with Steven Moffat about that one? In his Production Notes rant about axing DWC he advised anyone who complained about spoiling the magic to shut up.

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  6. I just read about those production notes he did...very interesting. Does this mean that Moffat doesn't actually call as many of the shots as we believe? How long will it be before he gets sick of the BBC and moves on? If the BBC aren't careful, they'll lose everything and we could potentially end up losing Doctor Who again because of their idiocy.

    The reason for the kids not being recommended to go is just bollocks. They could have said something else like 'For Health and Safety reasons' but as we know, many children attend (busier) conventions and seem to enjoy themselves. 'Spoiling the magic' is just patronising and insulting. It's a pure money-making exercise and it's a very sad episode for us fans.

    But I'm VERY glad that the vast majority of fans are sticking together and hopefully something will come of it, like the BBC learning they can't mess us (and our favourite show) around like this

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  7. Of course Moffat doesn't call the shots here. This is a corporate event more than a fan event. Just ignore it and pretend it's not happening, because the only way it's happening in the first place is because of the high ticket prices. That's the reason why it hasn't happened in 30 years...
    Just wait till after these people are off their contracts in a few years down the line. I'm fine with not meeting these people while they are working on the show, because then they'll feel all the more appreciated when they're done and the press have long forgotten about them...

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  8. Totally agree Mr Gee (oh that ryhmes)

    Many of the suits at the Beeb hate Doctor Who and see it purely in terms of cash cow. My Mrs was working on a radio 4 production and one of the suits learnt she was a Who fan because she mentioned Big Finish he said "Yeah Who fans will buy any old crap won't they?"

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  9. Cheers Jamie. Your example is precisely the problem. Doctor Who fans DO buy anything with a blue box on it. Maybe if they didn't, then the BBC might be a bit more wary of flooding the market with tat with that has Doctor Who written all over it. But fans will ALWAYS buy it, because it's got Doctor Who written on it! It's a viscous circle

    Despite costing the ridiculous amount they do, the convention tickets sold out in a few days...the fans have spoken

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