A Spoiler Too Far: Announcing John Simm’s Series 10 Return
Feature article by guest contributor Craig Sightings.
Back in 2015, I wrote an article expressing my view that the BBC needed to stop spoiling big moments from Series 9. Sadly, I regret to say that almost two years later the publicity team is still making the exact same mistakes. I am of course talking about the Series 10 finale this time around though, and how my experience was tainted by the publicity once again.
Though the BBC also spoiled the Mondasian Cybermen’s return and strongly hinted again a companion’s death, the absolute worst thing was revealing John Simm’s return as the Master in “World Enough & Time”. What should have been a shocking cliffhanger on the same level of the “Utopia” Master reveal was instead completely blown by knowing that Simm was going to appear thanks to the fact the BBC announced his return three months prior. Then in the week build-up to broadcast itself they made it practically impossible not to know that he was in the episode, thanks to showing him everywhere in the trailers, promo pics, listings magazines and so on. You could not reasonably escape it.
So this all added up to absolutely zero surprise when the moment finally came around in the episode itself. In fact based on the Internet reactions I saw, despite the impressive make-up effects, the majority saw right through Simm’s disguise due to fans specifically expecting Simm to appear and looking extra hard for him. So instead of being a heart-stopping surprise for everyone out of nowhere after 7 years, it just really dragged the inevitable out when the Simm finally pulls off the mask like a classic Scooby-Doo villain.
I cannot believe they were so stupid about the whole thing, again. Now I know some of you will be thinking “But publicity is good, it gets more people watching” etc. While it’s true we want the show to be watched by as many people as possible, when it comes at the expense of spoiling what should be a massive story reveal, it is the sign you’ve gone too far.
They should have attempted to keep it as secret as possible. I think few can disagree that Simm would have had much more of an impact if it had not been publicised so blatantly. Unfortunately, it seems the low ratings prompted them to go so overt with spoilers. But the thing is that this heavy promotion didn’t really boost the ratings that much at all in the grand scheme of things. While slightly higher than the previous week, the episode still only had 3.37 million watching on the overnights, which is the lowest for a finale yet (and one of the lowest ratings ever for the show).
Another point is that this is especially odd considering Steven Moffat was once known for being ridiculously secretive. What concerns me further is that they’re now moving immediately on to Capaldi’s regeneration. There’s already plenty of rumours out there already and I fear by the time it finally airs at Christmas we’ll know everything again if they keep on the same path.
Many of the things I’ve said here today are identical to what I was saying in my argument from 2015. I just tweaked a few instances to be relevant today. The thing is though; nothing has changed and my points stand. With the Chris Chibnall era on the horizon though I can only hope the show finally addresses this situation and attempts to bring back the surprises again. Otherwise I may be recycling this all again in 2018.
See you then!