Does This Smell Spoiled to You?

We’ve probably all fallen victim to it. Many of us have either inadvertently or (shamefully) explicitly done it ourselves. The issue of ‘spoilers’ are nothing new to storytelling, from publications and stagecraft, to radio broadcast, to screens large and small. But the inflammatory act of ruining another’s naive anticipation of a story twist or outcome is just as prevalent now as ever — daresay more so, because of the instantaneous nature of sharing immediate thoughts on multiple social networks, as well as the behavior of some news and entertainment outlets (read: tabloids) who want nothing more than to boost their reader numbers and advertising revenue by being the first to blast out headlines that tell-all, spoil-all.

This week, we take some time to look at the nature of spoilers as they have affected the Doctor Who program, in recent past, as well as present moment in the anticipation of Series 11. Joined by writer, blogger and frequent convention panel guest Ian McCann, we discuss the spectrum of spoiler definitions, the ‘courtesy moratorium’ and ‘statute of limitations’ on withholding detailed conversation about what has aired, and how to deal with differing global broadcast schedules, time zones, and the ever-changing nature of live-time versus down-time viewing. We also consider how official (and unofficial) releases of information like casting and episode synopses may fall under a spoiler umbrella, and what lengths networks may have to go to in order to keep hold of the reins regarding news about their own program.

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