Bookmark and Share Steven Moffat speaks out against spoiler "vandals"

5/11/2011 10:08:00 am - Reported by Chuck Foster

Steven Moffat has been quoted this morning on his thoughts about how some 'fans' feel the need to spoil series surprises ahead of broadcast, something he considers to be 'vandalism'.

The comments come after a recent incident where the plot of series opener The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon was posted online, and the story has been picked up by BBC News and on BBC Radio. Speaking to BBC Entertainment reporter Colin Paterson at a pre-BAFTA TV Awards event, Moffat said:
It's heart-breaking in a way, because you try and tell a story, and stories depend on surprise, stories depend on shocking people, stories are the moments you didn't see coming - those are what live in you and burn in you forever. If you are denied those, it's vandalism.

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 watches my show again, because that's a horrific thing to do. It is exactly like that boring man in the pub, who waits until you're nearly finished your joke and jumps in with the punchline, and gets it slightly wrong. You hate that guy, you just hate those guys too - can you 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!

Having discussed the item on BBC Radio Five Live earlier in the morning, Paterson then appeared alongside Doctor Who Magazine reporter Benjamin Cook on BBC's Breakfast, where the latter reflected on Moffat's concerns:
I can understand Steven's frustration, because he heads a team of people who work incredibly hard throughout the year to make the BBC's flagship show and it should be their choice in how that story is digested by the viewers: the funny bits make you laugh, the sad bits make you cry, and the twists and turns - of which there are many, and many more coming up later in the series - they should be allowed to shock people. If someone goes online and spoils it for other fans ... but also then often journalists will trawl the Doctor Who forums to find stories to put in the newspaper that can reach the national press, it's a bit of a rubbish thing to do.

But I would say in the fans' defence that it often comes from a place of enthusiasm - it's not malicious, it's because they love the show. They want information about it, they want to share information about it.

BBC Radio Five Live spoke to Sandy Sinclair, senior contributor to Spoiler TV, who commented:
(If) you look at soap operas these days, you know what's happening months ahead. People start to expect these things of programmes. I have to say that people who do come and read these spoilers - specifically the one he (Steven Moffat) talked about - make up approximately 0.00001% of the actual people that are watching the show.

... We get screeners all the time for episodes of shows that haven't been screened yet on TV, they're sent to us and we give a non-spoiler review so that fans then do want to watch it. Obviously you are going to get people who don't respect that, unfortunately. If Steven Moffat is going to invite a number of people to different screenings of the episode three, four weeks before it's been shown on TV, he's going to have this happen. He's invited normal fans along to screenings rather than just the press or a site like us that will respect what he says, and obviously tease people about the episode, rather than give out a full blown, exactly blow-by-blow of what happened.

(the full interview can be heard for the next seven days on the BBC iplayer [2:13:24])

Later in the morning, Moffat wryly commented on Twitter about his interview: "Finally heard my own rant. Grumpy sod. And what a boring, inflection free voice! It's like been told off by the shipping forecast." He also pointed out: "It's the fans who MAKE the screenings - helluva lot of people to punish for one idiot."


 
Doctor Who's brand manager Edward Russell has also entered the fray via Twitter, focussing on those that follow location filming: "It's the people that follow us around on set and post bits of dialogue, film and photos that are the problem. One fan posted the dialogue of a scene from Ep13 recently." Responding to comments about Monday's Today programme, which also featured details of episode 13, he added: "Today didn't give away anything they weren't supposed to. There's a difference between teaser and spoiler."