Like the Tardis, the small television box is far larger on the inside; it’s our passport to a kind of tourism, our window on wonders. Our control over the time flow of TV has increased tremendously since Doctor Who‘s first broadcast in November 1963, when we were helplessly subject to the linear direction of scheduled programmes. Back then, if you missed an episode there was rarely a second chance to see it; and indeed, a whole era of Doctor Who is lost, the flimsy materials of its film and video imperfectly stored, often taped over and never intended for posterity. Now the TV set has transmuted into various forms – tablet, PC, phone – and we can pause the show as it plays live, dip into YouTube or iPlayer archives of its past, and watch previews weeks before their terrestrial transmission.
Up to a point. Because the BBC – specifically, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat – has decided to retain some of the old-fashioned suspense of Saturday night television by keeping the final instalment of this season strictly under wraps until its broadcast. Fans can revisit the most recent episodes, contextualise them through online and DVD holdings of previous series and painstakingly study the trailers, but the finale – the future of Doctor Who – still lies stubbornly ahead, retaining its enigma, and we, the viewers, can travel towards it only one day at a time.
Read the full story in the Times Higher Education.