‘Doctor Who’ and the BBC’S Remit for Education and Information

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Full Article Available for Free at: CST online

With recent debates and discussions surrounding the government’s Green Paper and the BBC’s Charter review (how the BBC should be funded; whether it distorts the market; if it should be self-regulated; and so on.) I have found it quite easy to become lost in arbitrary and abstract notions such as “value for money” based on my naturally biased consumption of BBC products and services.

For example, I’m not the biggest fan of Doctor Who. (Gasp!) The slightest mention of “family entertainment” usually sends a chill down my spine. For me, that special category largely represents a compromised hodgepodge of spectacular nonsense; but that was my opinion, and I hadn’t even watched Doctor Who properly in years.

Earlier this year, I was teaching a class on the BBC’s public remit – specifically: “the promotion of its Public Purposes through the provision of output which consists of information, education and entertainment” (Broadcasting: Copy of Royal Charter 3) – and I was drawn into considering just how a prime-time, flagship show such as Doctor Who aimed to meet these criteria.

Granted, it doesn’t have to possess a royal flush of outcomes, but a show that has run for as long as Doctor Who must surely be more than pure ‘entertainment’ to justify its popularity across all age-groups and its (occasionally wavering) position in the BBC schedule?

So, mindful of the bleak BBC budget cuts on the horizon, I went to find out how Doctor Who engaged with the other aspects of the BBC remit: to educate and inform. After all, if the government makes the same knee-jerk reactions that I do, then what else might we be losing other than an hour of weekly entertainment…


The full 1,100 word version of this blog post is published at CST online, where you can read the rest of the article for free.

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