Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary trailer: should UK fans have seen it first?

The long-awaited trailer for the 50th anniversary special has ignited anger among UK fans after it was premiered at San Diego Comic Con. Stephen Kelly asks whether the BBC made the right decision...


Years from now, much like the moon landing or JFK, people will ask: Where were you for the premiere of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary trailer? And most likely, you will answer the same as us: home alone on a Sunday night, hating happy strangers on Twitter. 


For yes, the trailer for one of most long awaited events in British television did not air to fans in the UK, but to those at San Diego’s Comic Con. The reaction, it’s fair to say, has not exactly been “Geronimo!”

“I don’t understand!,” yelled one fan at Radio Times’ Twitter account. “This is a UK show and we don’t get to look first? How is that right or justifiable?”

“They don’t care about their UK fans any more,” another laments, “it’s all about making it big in the US.” While over on Facebook, talk turned to the popular argument of who pays for what: “No offence to American fans, but this is a British show… The least we can get is a trailer when we are the ones who pay the license fee!”

There are, of course, plenty of other things in the world worthy of huffing and puffing about, but you can kind of see their point.

The Sherlock series three clip showcased on Thursday was a mere scrap of rough footage – a tantalising tease. But this was a proper trailer. It had Matt Smith and David Tennant’s Doctors on screen together; it had Rose Tyler; it had Daleks; it had Zygons; it even had John Hurt in the midst of the bloody Time War. For a fanbase this fervent – who feel a sort of perceived ownership – it was nothing short of a betrayal; a feeling only confounded further when rumour of the trailer being uploaded at midnight culminated in nothing more than a promo picture of some Daleks. A BBC spokesman told that there was no confirmation of whether the trailer would appear online.

So, all in all, not an amazing night if you weren’t one of 2000 people in a hall over in San Diego. Yet even so, is such an angry sense of entitlement justified?

This was Comic Con, after all, the biggest pop culture event in the world. It’s a convention full of fans just as passionate as you or me who – in the most extreme cases – had camped out over night, sleeping rough on the pavement. Should they show such devotion only to have the thing they lined up for uploaded right away? What would have been the point? As the BBC told today: This was an exclusive Comic Con trailer made especially for the Doctor Who 50th panel… UK fans can look forward to exclusive content over the next few months.”


Perhaps that, above all, is the problem. The internet, for a long time, has leveled the playing field of information – and also our expectations of it. We don’t like not to know, and we especially don’t like it when someone else knows and we don’t. It’s seen as rubbing our nose in it: something all too common when Twitter makes documenting your well edited, tip-top life some sort of basic human right. How that gels with the ‘exclusivity’ factor of Comic Con is tricky. One thing’s for sure, though: there seems to be a balance, and this weekend the BBC may just have misjudged it.