Fans of any long-running series can be a funny bunch — none more so than devotees of Doctor Who. One of the major sources of ire is when future plot points are revealed without warning. It irks me a little — as with E4’s trailer for the season finale of ER last year, for example. As a general rule, though, I don’t mind seeing the occasional previews of forthcoming events, but some go to extraordinary lengths to avoid seeing or hearing anything that might disrupt their ignorance of events to come.
Let’s just hope that people who want to avoid spoilers for the forthcoming episode of Doctor Who, Daleks in Manhattan, don’t step into any newsagents for the next week — for the new edition of Radio Times has a cover image that is, in itself, a spoiler for the end of the episode.
Now, if you go to the RT website you’ll see the cover itself, so be warned. If you don’t mind seeing it, the BBC website has a large image of it.
What’s a little strange about this huge spoiler is that it’s been arranged with explicit approval of the series’ executive producer, Russell T Davies. In his monthly column in Doctor Who Magazine, Russell has always been careful to warn readers of what he calls ‘ruiners’ — listings magazines who give away far too much. Oh, the irony.
Or is it?
Certainly, Russell is no fan of the spoiler, but he does recognise the dilemma involved in promoting shows. In an accompanying feature, he says:
You want to give away a certain amount, to draw people in. But you don’t want people watching and thinking they’ve seen it before. What we try to protect are the endings of plots — that’s the important thing.
It always mystifies me when soaps give away plots in advance. I read a billing for Coronation Street: ‘Tracy disowns her mother’. And you watch it, and it’s the last scene! You sit there going, ‘Why did you tell me that?’
Which makes me wonder — is the monster that appears on the cover quite as big a give away as we might think? Or is it actually a red herring, to distract us from a bigger, more shocking revelation? Come Saturday, we’ll find out…