Doctor Who Blog

RIP Confidential

The Doctor Who News Page has the scoop that Doctor Who Confidential is broadcasting its final episode on BBC3 this Saturday. The behind-the-scenes program about the making of Doctor Who is no more.

I can’t actually say I’m all that sad. As a Doctor Who fan I want to know everything about the making of my favourite series, but a 45 minute show about the making of the 45 episode I just watched has always seemed a bit… self-indulgent. Particularly since a) the information given to viewers is so controlled it’s often a repackaging of PR bullet points and b) consequently it spends a lot of time showing how the most mundane parts of the program are made. Who can forget the demonstration of the Car Cannon in The Sontaran Stratagem? The lengthy bit about taking David Tennant down the stairs in a wheelchair in The End of Time? The mind-numbing tedium of learning about the catering services at Upper Boat in The Doctor’s Wife?

The only real concern I have is how this will impact the DVDs. With the web content shrinking away from interesting behind the scenes stuff, the more interesting DVD features being completely lost, the cut-down Confidentials were the only behind-the-scenes content. But perhaps that’s what will happen next: Confidential will move from being a BBC3 show to being web and DVD content. I hope so.

There were some great Confidential episodes to be sure. David Tennant’s written and directed feature on remembering classic Who “Do You Remember Your First Time” was superb. The episode on the making of The Fires of Pompeii about the logistics of shooting in Rome was riveting. And I loved the first couple of seasons when they had less padding (it was only 30 minutes), more cool montages to pop music and more classic Who content.

But when it comes to the past few seasons I’m in agreement with BBC3’s assessment right now: the money would be better spent making original programming. Worldwide and 2Entertain can pick up the tab and keep the fans happy, and do it in a format that isn’t quite so bloated, PR heavy and tedious.

(In the interest of fairness though… if you’re outraged and want Doctor Who Confidential to continue, there is a campaign mounting on twitter, with the hashtag #savedwc)


My experience with “Confidential” is limited to the “cut-down” version. Usually these shows are not very interesting; Yes, there are occasional nuggets of insight but there’s also a lot of “mugging for the camera” (perhaps fun for those present, but dull for this viewer) or actors’/directors’/producers’ restatements of the bl***ing obvious. It’s shocking to think that show is stretched out to 45 mins in the UK…

Still, I guess that this material (especially the best of it) may continue to be distributed on the web. I suppose the real issue is whether the decision to scrap “DWC” reflects in any way a lack of confidence in Doctor Who on the part of the BBC. Personally, I do not believe this to be the case, but I am sure that some wonder.

Posted by Andrew B  on  09/28  at  01:45 PM

I’m in disagreement with those who feel the program was bloated and unnecessary. I call it unique. The decision (which I believe was just this year) to do “Day in the Life of” segments was a bit much, but was balanced by the fantastic segments in which the stars got to be featured doing unusual things (Arthur in the shark tank and Karen in the race car the other week was priceless). And seeing the trio’s behind the scenes antics was priceless. Tennant likewise really took Confidential to heart (I believe his incredible video diaries would not have been made without Confidential). And in this final episode we’re even getting an original mini-episode, and I’m sure there would have been more of those in the future. Confidential provided what viewers wanted to see - otherwise no way it would have lasted 6 years. No other TV show on English-language TV has had such thorough coverage and that’s one of the things that made Doctor Who unique. So OK, the full versions weren’t made available on DVD; forget licensing, that was because of logistics - we’d have had to shell out for 14-disc sets if they’d included them all. But they’re shown on PBS, and easily obtainable through other methods. I do think that the end of Confidential probably means the end of behind-the-scenes features for the new series DVDs unless 2 Entertain wants to shell out. When the Series 7 set is released down the line we’ll probably see some commentaries and deleted scenes and Moffat will probably arrange a budget for some more mini-episodes. But we won’t be treated to the likes of Neil Gaiman reading from his script, or James Corden and Matt Smith recording a late-night, slightly slap-happy video diary in a closed-down department store, or Matt, Karen and Arthur improvising a comedy routine that’s funnier than anything I’ve seen in The Office. RIP Confidential.

Posted by Alex  on  09/29  at  03:28 AM

I watched Confidential back when it was half-length. Some of the segments even then were superfluous but I held on. When it went to the 45 min format I could barely make it through. FFwd was my friend, then I just quit.

Posted by Andrew  on  09/29  at  05:08 PM

> So OK, the full versions weren’t made
> available on DVD; forgetlicensing, that
> was because of logistics - we’d have
> had to shell out for 14-disc sets if they’d
> included them all

I’m not sure that’s correct. I recall even the BBC mentioning that the cut down versions were to get around music issues.

An let’s be fair, the Who DVDs cost 2:1 over equal length content from HBO, AMC, etc. They know they have a captured audience that will pay stupid money. Content inclusion regardless.

Posted by Andrew  on  09/29  at  05:15 PM

The show was mostly a wasted opportunity.

30 minutes was more than enough never mind the 60 minute ones!

There were some of interest but they missed out on so many avenues. It should have been used more to look over the entire history of the show and it’s context in TV. Not every episode but many. You could even have done a mix of 5 minute features on various aspects of the series plus full length ones where you Beneath the Surface and go into production methods and historical factors.

Besides that you could have done real making of’s following the actual process of director, writer, actor, producer, design etc not just the PR version where everything is great and wonderful but show the real creative process which does have some tension.

“Arthur in the shark tank and Karen in the race car”



I’d say then it’s way past time to be gone because they stopped trying.

Posted by Ryan  on  09/30  at  05:24 AM

Eventually in 10 or 20 years, video shot for Confidential will end up in some really interesting and insightful documentary (or documentaries) on the history, mythology and the cultural significance of the 2000’s version of Doctor Who. 

Possibly, future film-makers and fans will regret the absence of series 7+ “Confidentials” in the same way we mourn the missing classic episodes.

The problem is that now, DWC merely seems superfluous and/or self indulgent.

Posted by Andrew B  on  09/30  at  05:41 AM

@Ryan - The purpose of DWC was not just to show how the show was made, but also to put the spotlight on the actors. I thought the opportunity to get to know Karen and Arthur and Matt through segments such as the car driving/shark diving were among the best parts of the show. I didn’t think it was a wasted opportunity at all.

Incidentally, they’ve just confirmed that there will be one additional DWC episode included in the Season 6 box set, devoted to the making of the 5-part mini-episode.

Posted by Alex  on  10/18  at  02:08 AM

I found my fascination with the Confidentials waning this past season.  As a “new” fan I loved it when they tied in bits from the classic series and the behind-the-scenes technicalities on filming were interesting.  But I have to agree with Ryan - watching Karen drive and Arthur swim with the sharks was just painful.  (Insert clever pun about jumping the shark.)

There was also a criminal lack of Danny Hargreaves blowing stuff up this season.  The more subtle Moffat era has not been kind to Danny & Crew. wink

Posted by Deborah  on  12/07  at  09:07 AM

Yeah I agree no other TV show on English-language TV has had such thorough coverage and that’s one of the things that made Doctor Who unique. So OK, the full versions weren’t made available on DVD; forget licensing, that was because of logistics - we’d have had to shell out for 14-disc sets if they’d included them all. But they’re shown on PBS tax credit deductions, and easily obtainable through other methods.

Posted by Dave  on  12/16  at  05:30 PM

It also brings blogging, micro blogging and bookmarking all alive on a single simple platform. Moreover it’s user friendly interface make it bit different from others.Read all your articles from weary and your writing very attractive waiting to continue.Thanks.

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