As the new series of Doctor Who lumbers into view, talk falls once more to that ever-pertinent question: how will the schedulers deal with juggling episodes along with things like the FA Cup final and the Eurovision Song Contest?
Hitherto this subject has caused enormous vexation amongst the programme’s army of devoted fans. But aside from these 239 people, mild consternation, or rather irritation, is also felt amongst the show’s broader audience – albeit of a kind limited to parents going “Well, I’d got the tea ready, as usual, for 7pm, and now you tell me it’s already been on?”
The way to avoid a repeat of all this hubbub, however, is simple: fold the events of this or that Saturday night into the storyline of the relevant episode, like they once did in Coronation Street on Christmas Day and EastEnders on New Year’s Eve.
Doctor Who is trying to fix the scanner in the console room when Catherine Tate comes in and changes the channel. A familiar trumpet-led fanfare rings out, followed by the soothing sounds of Irish brogue. “What the devil are you up to?” splutters the Doctor. “Ain’t you never ‘eard of Eurovision?” shouts Catherine. “All of them weird costumes, peculiar-looking foreigners and camp goings-on?” “I thought that was last week’s adventure,” grins the Doctor, stupidly. “Shurrup and feast yer eyes on this,” orders Catherine, and the pair settle down to watch as our screen merges with the scanner and Lord Wogan’s voice takes over.
Doctor Who has landed his TARDIS in Cardiff where there are problems with the Rift. While taking a breath of fresh air he notices the distant outline of the Millennium Stadium on the horizon. “Didn’t they used to play the FA Cup final there?” he asks Catherine Tate, who is skulking a few paces behind looking petulant. “Doctor, you know nuthin,” she snaps. “Wot’s the matter wit yer? They do it at Wembley now. Y’know – Wem-ber-lee!” “Good gracious,” the Doctor exclaims. “Do you know who’s playing this year?” “Of course. It’s [poorly overdubbed dialogue done in post-production to mask the fact the scene was recorded in mid-March], and kick off’s just about to start.” “Well, what are we waiting for,” booms the Doctor, and heads back into the TARDIS where the sound of Gary Lineker can be heard…