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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

57 Comments

  1. J Mairs
    August 25, 2014 @ 12:34 am

    Bravo! Bravo!

    Reply

  2. Jarl
    August 25, 2014 @ 12:53 am

    Look, it's obvious to everyone that the only sane thing to do is bring back RTD/lynch Moffat/return to the serial format/bring back McGann/hire Ian Levine/make Gatiss showrunner/sacrifice children, then our Doctor Who would be as good as we remember it, rather than as good as it actually is or ever was.

    The memory cheats.

    Reply

  3. Iain Coleman
    August 25, 2014 @ 1:53 am

    The BBC's defensiveness dates back somewhat earlier, to the Hutton Report of 2004.

    It's all a bit complicated, but basically the BBC had broadcast allegations that the government had distorted and exaggerated intelligence reports in the run-up to the Iraq war, in order to suggest that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to be launched at 45 minutes' notice. The government fought back on this hard, first of all discovering and making public the BBC's source for this story (weapons inspector David Kelly), then after Kelly was found dead in the woods near his home, appointing Lord Hutton to chair an inquiry into the whole debacle.

    The inquiry report exonerated the government and dumped a huge pile of shit onto the BBC, The government then used this report to beat the BBC into submission. The journalist who ran the original story was sacked, the BBC's chairman and director general both resigned, and the BBC has treated the government like a beaten dog treats its master ever since.

    Central to this whole story is the government's chief spin doctor at the time, Alistair Campbell, on whom Peter Capaldi's character in The Thick of It is largely based. Indeed, the spin-off movie In The Loop contains a somewhat fictionalised account of the sexing-up of the government's intelligence dossier.

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  4. Spacewarp
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:00 am

    A decade later it is more or less accepted by the public that the government of the time (now personified by the demonised Tony Blair) did actually "sex up" the 45 minutes WMD threat. Sadly there hasn't been a corresponding exoneration of the BBC, who are still forced to crawl at their master's heel despite essentially being correct in their allegations. And the public doesn't care, with a dangerous few choosing to believe that scrapping the licence fee and handing the BBC to Murdoch would be a good idea.

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  5. Iain Coleman
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:06 am

    Oh, absolutely. You'd have thought the BBC would have managed to grow a pair by now, but it's still commonplace to refer to the "post-Hutton" BBC as a shorthand for this subservient position they seem to have locked themselves into.

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  6. ferret
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:17 am

    Doctor Who is an hour-long? I wish it were, I wish it were.

    Confidential was a great program when it covered aspects of production younger viewers may have been both unaware of and inspired by (sound design, for instance, still essentially done by two people in a small studio hitting and scrunching a variety of household objects) – top marks for educational value. Pity it more frequently became a general behind-the-scenes of the episode you just watched, padded out with clips from the episode you just watched. It's great on DVD, but watching it immediately after the original episode aired made a lot of it seem a rather redundant re-tread of the main show.

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  7. Spacewarp
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:28 am

    I have to question the comment about the Series 5 "ratings sag". This now appears to be part of fandom lore, but it deserves to be looked at in context.

    On the face of it, Series 5 does seem to start promisingly with final viewing figures just above 8 million, but then appears to drop below that at "Vampires of Venice" and never recover. So far so good – Series 5 went downhill, right?

    Well, not really. The default final viewing figures for a series of New Doctor Who appears to be around the 6-8 million mark. You can see this in the second half of Series 5, and compare it more or less to Series 7. In fact Series 3…and Series 2…and Series 1. This is kind of how Doctor Who viewers work. They tune in for the beginning of the series, then around 1 million of them fade away about halfway through (the exceptions being Series 4, when Tennant was at his peak, and the Specials year).

    Series 5 had a higher initial number of viewers, most probably intrigued by Smith's new Doctor, but again by about halfway this had dropped back to the standard 6-8 million of core viewers.

    Series 5's drop looks like a bigger sag, not because less people than before were watching by the end…but because more people than before were watching at the start. I would go so far as to say that there are 6 million viewers in the UK who have always watched Doctor Who since 2005, and will continue to do so. There are between another 1 and 2 million who drop in and out whenever things look interesting, and above that maybe another million rare viewers who only switch on for special occasions like 50th anniversaries, new Doctors and Christmas. A New Doctor series almost always starts at 10 million, while an ordinary series seems to start around the 8- 9 million mark. This is why Series 1 and 5 look like they've shed viewers, but Series 2, 3, 6 and 7 tend to end about where they start.

    This is of course only an opinion, but I feel it is a far more positive view of Series 5, and God knows we need some more positivity in fandom.

    http://www.spacewarp.co.uk/who/DWNewSeriesRatings.htm

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  8. Spacewarp
    August 25, 2014 @ 2:36 am

    One of the BBC's problems is that it has to be impartial and show all sides of an argument. That's essentially part of it's charter. But in times of War it can run up against a goverment that wants it to become part of the propaganda machine, leaving it in a no-win situation. If it supresses the bad truths (civilian deaths, accusations against British troops for example) it is seen as sacrificing it's impartiality and becoming a governmental puppet. If it reports them, it is seen as being unpatriotic. Both of these types of accusation are fueled by the media and taken on board by the public. In times of Conservative rule they are also tacitly encouraged by the governement.

    Another problem is of course that it gives artistic and creative leeway to its program-makers and stars, without pressure from commercial advertisers. This is one of the reasons why BBC programming is some of the best in the UK, if not the world. Unfortunately this can produce things like the Russel Brand/Jonathan Ross "Sachsgate" disaster, which just adds more fuel to the "post-Hutton" media bonfire.

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  9. reservoirdogs
    August 25, 2014 @ 3:23 am

    Well, that explains why he left Tintin; just imagine what's described and then add "writing 3 major motion pictures" to the mix.

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  10. Bennett
    August 25, 2014 @ 3:25 am

    "I mean, a few people did, but it was only ever available in the UK…

    Feel obliged to mention here that Doctor Who Confidential Cut-Down, while not precisely the same thing, did air on Australia's ABC directly after the premiere of each new episode through-out Series 6.

    I think it was mainly used to fill out the hour, but it did keep a non-trivial hold on the audience, with the first source I've found putting its ratings at 77% of the Doctor Who audience. Then again, that audience might just have been searching for the remote.

    (And, admittedly, I never watched it myself. The last thing I want in the heady afterglow of a new Doctor Who is a pop music montage of things I just saw a moment ago. How those persistently survived the cut-down is beyond me.)

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  11. Lo-Fi Explosion
    August 25, 2014 @ 6:19 am

    This also occurred at exactly the moment iPlayer viewership started to make an impact on viewing habits. People were starting to watch the show differently, which the BBC is happy with – they aren't dependent on advertising, so any view on a BBC platform is a worthwhile view. The papers, however, ignored these when they were targeting the show and panicking the paranoid. With your point, real viewership might even have been up.

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  12. David Anderson
    August 25, 2014 @ 7:14 am

    BBC3 wasn't aimed at children or teenagers. 'Younger viewers' meant students and university leavers. (Wikipedia says 16-34.) Yes, the BBC must be the only major media organisation that considers that age range a niche audience.
    The kind of BBC3 programs that had any kind of critical reception are Gavin and Stacey, and Being Human – not child friendly. Otherwise, it had a bit of a reputation for cheap comedy drama and reality tv in the 'twenty-somethings get drunk and do ill-advised things on camera' genre.

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  13. Aylwin
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:08 am

    Yeah…our host often seems to show an indulgent soft/blind spot towards New Labour, which I find kind of odd given the general tenor of his politics. References to Tony Blair come up now and again, and they always seem to be couched in a kind of ironical bemusement at the peculiar British eccenticity of vituperating him.

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  14. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 25, 2014 @ 8:47 am

    I admit to bemusement at just how much the British left reviles a politician who is, in many ways, the default setting for left-leaning politicians in the US.

    It's also worth pointing out that the Blair era mostly coincided with the wilderness years, in a way that didn't give me a ton of opportunities to get my teeth into the spirit of the times.

    But in this case I really am just drawing on a fairly low level aspect of the Blair era, which was its basic rhetoric of optimism and pride in national institutions, which was a basic part of Blair's smiling appeal – a sort of "let's go back to when we were all having fun, shall we?" that served, naturally, as a cultural reset to the pre-Thatcher years. I'm thinking post-"Perfect Day" BBC, basically. (And note that the song the BBC picked there is, indeed, from the 70s.)

    Similarly, Hutton is certainly a transition (and it's worth noting that Doctor Who's revival originates pre-Hutton), but I think there's pretty clearly a second wave of things going wrong that starts with the license fee freeze.

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  15. Alex
    August 25, 2014 @ 9:25 am

    "Dog Borstall" was a particular low. One step away from Monkey Tennis.

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  16. peeeeeeet
    August 25, 2014 @ 9:25 am

    "Perfect Day" was presumably picked because of its then recent, heavily ironic use in Trainspotting. I don't think if the message you were trying to convey was "let's go back to when we were all having fun", you'd pick a Lou Reed album track, anyway. British 90s revivalism was much more focused on the sixties, half of Britpop acts being wannabe Mods…

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  17. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:35 am

    The 60s work as well as the 70s for "before Thatcher." Indeed, I'd suggest that the two decades are roughly what New Labour traded on. I'd also point out that while Trainspotting is certainly relevant, I doubt the BBC was going purely for "let's make a feel-good single about how nice the BBC is and also about heroin."

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  18. Elizabeth Sandifer
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:37 am

    I was puzzled when I first read this comment, as my basic reaction was "well yes, I know that," but rereading the post I see how saying "younger viewers" right before disclaiming that Confidential is not quite a children's program gives the wrong impression. Mea culpa. (I do think Confidential probably skewed a bit younger than Three meant for – roughly a 12-16 thing.)

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  19. BerserkRL
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

    Karen Gillian driving a car

    Ahem. Karen Gillan.

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  20. BerserkRL
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

    Pip and Jane Baker need to be made showrunners. Then everything will be right again.

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  21. Matthew Blanchette
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

    To be fair, Spielberg and Jackson gladly freed him from the Tintin obligation, because they knew the importance of Doctor Who (they're both huge fans).

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  22. Matthew Blanchette
    August 25, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

    And, it should be noted, it was widely known in fan circles that she did not know how to drive; the episode, then, was the BBC funding her driving education. So to speak.

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  23. Jarl
    August 25, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

    There's nothing you can do to prevent the catharsis of spurious showrunning.

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  24. jonathan inge
    August 25, 2014 @ 9:38 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply

  25. peeeeeeet
    August 25, 2014 @ 11:49 pm

    Well, no, because they weren't making "a feel-good single" at all. The promo was designed only to show the diversity of the BBC's music broadcasting; that it went an early form of viral was accidental. There was a good one for comedy and drama too, where Julie Walters in character as a critical viewer wandered around just about every major show the BBC made at the time.

    And the 60s and 70s aren't remotely interchangeable in the UK – indeed, the early 70s and late 70s aren't even that interchangeable. If someone wants to suggest things were better before Thatch they generally also want to steer clear of either the Winter of Discontent or the three-day week…

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  26. Daru
    August 26, 2014 @ 1:46 am

    Thanks for an insightful heads-up into this period of the Moffat reign. I do think Confidential killed itself as well – the low point was that episode where Matt, Karen and Arthur had a Jim'll Fix It type day out.

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  27. Lo-Fi Explosion
    August 26, 2014 @ 2:23 am

    Am I the only one who liked that episode? I mean, it was just so different from the rest, which was pretty repetitive at that point. It never went quite deep enough and just sort of bobbed along the surface explaining how everything is wonderful. The low point for me was the craft services episode – interviewing the guy that runs the tea stall on set.

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  28. Daru
    August 26, 2014 @ 2:38 am

    Oh I did love it pretty much until the episode above. I enjoyed having that view behind the scenes, but I suppose there is only so much you can say from that point of view.

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  29. Anton B
    August 26, 2014 @ 2:55 am

    Matt, Karen and Arthur had a Jim'll Fix It type day out.
    Followed, one presumes, by having their portraits painted by Rolf Harris.
    Ah, how thoroughly our childhoods have been corrupted.

    Seriously there seems to still be a strange dichotomy between the way Doctor Who is perceived by the BBC and the way it is received by its fans. The Beeb views itself very much as the proud parent channel. Its celebratory side offerings (Confidential, Extra, the 'announcing the new Doctor' travesty) seem to be patronisingly saying "Look at how well our wayward offspring has done! That awkward teenager that wore strange clothes, hung around with dubious friends, moping about insulting everyone has grown up into a fine upstanding graduate who is travelling the world earning a good living. Those odd obsessions turned out to be lucrative innovations."

    One of the, for me, key moments of watching Deep Breath in the cinema was the small fidgety Amelia Pond look alike sitting next to me who had to be removed from the building by her bucket of popcorn munching dad for being..well a bit bored I s'pose. This episode definitely veered away from child friendly. The specials which followed the screening though – and the Moffat, Capaldi, Coleman Q&A again had the tired forced hysteria and jolly older brother voice over that smacks of Blue Peter and CBBC. (The Q&A at least had two funny, self mocking ad-libs from interviewer Zoe Ball "We've just got time to go over live to One Direction!" And, directed at Capaldi "Please don't be rubbish" that nearly gave Moffat a heart attack). I'm not asking the BBC to deny its younger audience just to be a little less patronising when celebrating its most succesful export.

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  30. ferret
    August 26, 2014 @ 3:44 am

    That episode was attached to "The Girl Who Waited", incredibly. Aging make-up design? Modern split-screening? Insights into the emotional themes, or the concept of the split-timestream facility? No, bit of swimming and driving. Galling waste of opportunity.

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  31. Daru
    August 26, 2014 @ 4:50 am

    Yeah Anton, there is quite a taint covering much of my childhood entertainment. I'll be honest as a wee kid under ten I had no idea about the dodginess of Saville.

    I do find Zoe Ball a bit cringeworthy, but I really loved in the live Q&A seeing Capaldi and Moffat simply and easily come across as a lot more erudite in response to her questions (putting aside those of fans).

    And Ferret – yes! There were so many techniques that could have ben explored that would have been utterly fascinating to me – not only for that infamous episode, but many of the others. Wasted opportunities.

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  32. storiteller
    August 26, 2014 @ 5:29 am

    Anton, it's really interesting hearing about how it is covered in the U.K., because it's drastically different in the U.S. The U.S. tone is very much that of the excited teen / adult fan: "Look at this awesome thing that only we used to love and now a lot more people love it and isn't that wonderful!" We didn't get the big folks at our BBC America after-thing – we got Wil Wheaton and Chris Hardwick, nerds extraordinare, as the hosts, and Mark Gatiss as the show representative. (Also the guy who plays Strax, but he's not recognizable without the makeup.) Certainly no one that anyone under the age of 12 would know or care about.

    However, I suspect that as the U.S. fans have kids and start sharing Doctor Who with them that the U.S. coverage and Who culture is going to shift more towards the U.K. one. My kid is too little still, but in a couple of years, we're definitely going to be sitting down together to watch it as a family.

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  33. Iain Coleman
    August 26, 2014 @ 6:11 am

    Yeah, the 70s are very much not a source of great nostalgia in the UK, except for fans of The Sweeney.

    The 90s "Cool Britannia" vibe that New Labour piggy-backed onto was very much a recapitulation of the Swinging Sixties. The cultural referents were all Summer of Love, Beatles vs Stones, England winning the World Cup – a feeling of youthful exuberance and optimism, shorn of all political or artistic context, of course (it could hardly appeal to New Labour otherwise). The modern incarnations were Blur vs Oasis, Geri Halliwell in a Union Jack dress, Damien Hirst pickling half a cow – all much less appealing now than they seemed at the time, but then the same is true of New Labour.

    As for Blair and New Labour, they were given successive three-figure majorities and carte blanche to reform Britain after the Thatcher revolution and the Major doldrums. They chose to cling to Thatcherite economics, glory on reckless and bloody warmongering, turn the immigration service into a dystopian black hole to appease racists, relentlessly bully their enemies even if that meant hounding them to their death, and conspire in the debasement of British culture by eagerly sucking on Murdoch's wrinkled cock.

    Revulsion seems a mild response.

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  34. Bennett
    August 26, 2014 @ 7:15 am

    @ferret "That episode was attached to 'The Girl Who Waited', incredibly…."

    But that is actually the reason for its odd structure – The Girl Who Waited was double-banked against Closing Time. And I can't blame the producers for deciding that Smith-Corden antics and Cybermen blowing up was a surer bet than a talky episode with no guest cast.

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  35. Anton B
    August 26, 2014 @ 7:57 am

    Daru: I actually quite like Zoe Ball (she lives in Brighton I can't diss a neighbour) and the Q&A was pretty good. Her cheeky but knowledgable presentation style was right for the occasion.

    Storiteller: I usually prefer reading, listening and watching U.S. coverage of Doctor Who via blogs, podcasts and reviews to the British style which, when it's aimed at a general audience veers toward the kind of 'Zap Pow! Comics aren't just for kids' attitude that still secretly hankers for Tom Baker's scarf and Pertwee and his Whomobile.

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  36. John
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    Who doesn't long for the Whomobile? What happened to it, by the way? Does it belong to the Pertwee family still?

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  37. Anton B
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:32 am

    John: Erm…not me and no idea respectively.

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  38. kropotkinbeard
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:36 am

    "…there’s a public perception that comes up periodically that accuses the BBC of favoring “trash” like Doctor Who instead of worthy and important dramas. This is, of course, a complete load of horseshit".

    You need a recommend button on this site!

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  39. kropotkinbeard
    August 26, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

    I've always seen BBC3 as being BBC2 circa late 80's 6pm-8pm – the No Limits, Rough Guide, SNUBTV, Next Generation, Video Diaries time-slot spread out over a whole channel. With also an initial attempt to use it as a testing ground for R4 sit-coms (didn't Little Britain also start on 3?)

    BBC4 is the rest of what BBC2 used to be and a place to put "remit" TV – showing every single Prom etc.

    Now interactive has been cut bar sports events, BBC3 is the first in the firing line when any cuts are brought up. In its defence it does put out a good documentary every couple of months.

    IMO Lady Shapes would be more BBC3, Monkey Tennis is determinately Sat night BBC1 in the Tumble, Don't Scare the Hare slot.

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  40. Spacewarp
    August 26, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

    Social comparison of Decades between the US and UK fascinates me. The US appeared to have a different 60s and 70s to Britain, possibly through the US having the Vietnam War spanning both. The US kind of used the 70s to come to terms with what was left of the 60s. Whereas the UK (as it so often does) simply got bored with the decade, scrapped it and came up with something totally new. A particularly good example of this is to compare the series "Life on Mars" with its US remake. Both set in the same year, they look like they're both set on different planets. It's hard to believe that at the same time as The Sweeney were kicking shit out of bad guys in "Likely Lads" era London, Starsky and Hutch were chasing pimps and loud-check-jacket crime-lords through a San Francisco almost identical to that portrayed in 1967's "Ironside".

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  41. Spacewarp
    August 26, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

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  42. Spacewarp
    August 26, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

    Actually I thought that site had more information about the current whereabouts. There was some discussion on a forum in February this year, where it was revealed that a private collector now owned it. The collector then asked that information relating to his ownership be removed from the thread. So there you go. Basically it's in private hands, and they're apparently doing it up.

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  43. kropotkinbeard
    August 26, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

    "the 70s are very much not a source of great nostalgia in the UK"

    The original wave of Brit-pop was all about the 1970's more than the 60's (Suede, Denim etc) Edwyn Collins & Mark E Smith did a parody song about it – Seventies Night.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twclozhKqWo

    Thumbs up for yer Blair rant though! Remember this one:
    "A day like today is not a day for soundbites, really. But I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders. I really do."

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  44. kropotkinbeard
    August 26, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    The music cliché is that the US got political in the late 60's and the UK sang songs about cup-cakes. I wasn't around but I'd guess a touch more grey area existed (and a lot more novelty songs in the UK – that is the one certainty in any era).

    The 70's, I found horrific in the UK, “what team do you support?”, “what band do you like?” Tribalism was back as a throwback to the 50's – was this the first decade of nostalgia? Seemed to be going on in the US as well though I'm judging that by the Wanderers, Warriors, American Graffiti, Grease etc.

    The early-70's in the UK had the money coming into the hands of the people. Those people we cal parents or grand-parents, who own property, tend to be from this era.

    Good doc recently on BBC4 about this (very interesting theory about DIY becoming popular and causing football violence as all the Dad's stopped going to football and clipping the kids around the ear.)

    Guess the big difference between the UK and US is who joins the war. The only time we see a break in the "special relationship" (I'm guessing only the UK hear that phrase). Suez, Vietnam, Falklands, Syria.

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  45. kropotkinbeard
    August 26, 2014 @ 2:48 pm

    "I admit to bemusement at just how much the British left reviles a politician who is, in many ways, the default setting for left-leaning politicians in the US."

    John Smith.

    The time-frame has long since gone for a review but give A Very British Coup a watch. It was almost unbelivable, especially after "The Last Person please turn off the Lights" Sun cover, that anyone not in blue could ever run the country.

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  46. kropotkinbeard
    August 26, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

    Sorry you have – please ignore typical English idiot.

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  47. David Anderson
    August 26, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    The default setting for a US left-leaning politician is operating in a political culture in which minor tinkering with the most dysfunctional health care system in the developed world counts as a historic achievement. What is fearless determination in a US left-leaning politician would be paralytic timidity in the UK.
    (I say this as someone who doesn't entirely share in the revilement of Blair.)

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  48. Daru
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

    Yeah ridiculous beyond measure. Waste of money, but obviously not from Karen's point of view!

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  49. Daru
    August 26, 2014 @ 11:41 pm

    Anton: Yes I don't really mind Zoe Ball, I was just letting my bias against a particular kind of over-chirpy presenter come through. She does do her job well and I can see she loves the show. I am Scottish after all and do need something to complain about!

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  50. Aylwin
    August 27, 2014 @ 12:52 am

    @Philip Sandifer

    Thank you. That "default setting for left-leaning US politicians" says a lot, though. A significant chunk of what Blair is detested for relates to his realignment of British politics to produce a much closer resemblance to those of the US, about which there used to be a joke that where other countries have a right and a left, America just has a right and a further right. New Labour was significant not just for what it actually did in power but for moving the centre ground, redefining the limits of the possible in British politics in ways that were pretty much exclusively negative. In that, and in other respects – arguably including expanding the scope for governments to browbeat the BBC.

    Personally, I feel that New Labour, and Blair personally, don't get nearly as much stick as they deserve for their poisoning of the body politic. The vilification they do get is most limited to foreign policy and their behaviour within the left-right spectrum of domestic politics, when to me their most profound and certainly enduring effect on the UK was a dizzying shift in both the legal and institutional realities and the habits of thought and behaviour determining the relationship between state and people in an authoritarian direction, demolishing civilised principles, conventions, habits and assumptions and leaving all subsequent governments to operate on a register which is unrecognisable from the world before 1997. Or more specifically, the world before 2001, when the World Trade Centre attacks provided the prompt for Blair to extend the authoritarian instincts, contempt for history and revolution-from-above approach that he had already displayed in transforming the Labour Party to the government of the country. While retreating on the capacity of the state to do good, they worked tirelessly to expand its capacity to do evil.

    In that respect, popular denunciations of New Labour as "no better than the Tories" fall a very long way short of the mark. But even in Britain, most people were either supportive or indifferent to all that, creating a nightmarish "has the rest of the world gone mad or is it me?" for the minority who recognised the profundity of it, and internationally I'm not sure it's recognised much at all, so it doesn't play a big part in generating popular hostility.

    The bid to bring the BBC to heel was part of that wider shift from the first, comparatively benign phase of New Labour rule to the second, when autocratic impatience with the inconvenience of things that inhibited them from doing just as they pleased produced action that extended beyond the party and the corridors of Whitehall into the country at large.

    Having said all that, there is an irrational streak to the personal vilification of Blair by Labour Party supporters, at least in the sphere of domestic policy. Because, of course, while a minority never had any truck with New Labour, whatever their misgivings they mostly went along with The Project and agreed to sell their party's soul for power. So the more personal they make it, the less they have to hate themselves.

    I also tend to suspect that the same thing lies behind the intense and gleeful post-2010 vilification of the Lib Dems by Labour people – the charges thrown at them sound just too ironic coming from those who backed Tony's party. "Maybe we chose to be Tories by another name, but at least we never stood near a blue rosette!" Misery loves company, and nothing delights those who know themselves to be corrupted like seeing others brought down to their level. And the pleasure is all the sweeter when the same people had previously taken the moral high ground with them and pointed out their faults, who thought that they were better than that. It is, you might say, what makes the Devil do what he does.

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  51. Iain Coleman
    August 27, 2014 @ 2:49 am

    David:

    An important distinction here is that a US President has much less power over domestic policy than a UK Prime Minister. A President's policies have to pass through a Congress and Senate that may very well have majorities for the opposition, and the institution of the filibuster creates further difficulties.

    By contrast, a Prime Minister with a solid majority in the Commons can do pretty much what he or she likes. Thatcher understood this very well.

    Aylwin:

    There's certainly an element of "A big boy done it and ran away" in the attitudes of many Labour supporters to the 1997-2010 Labour governments. There is also the peculiar form of Labour tribalism which is well summarised here: http://miss-s-b.dreamwidth.org/1536918.html

    And also, coming back to what I said to David, parliamentary majorities matter, as do external circumstances. At the moment, neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats are doing what they would like to be doing, because neither has a majority. So the Conservatives aren't removing workers rights or slashing taxes for the rich, while the Liberal Democrats aren't taxing mansions or liberalising immigration. Also, the coalition is collectively constrained by a rather awful economic situation that would limit any government's room for manoeuvre. Both parties can legitimately say to their discontented supporters "We'd love to, but we can't".

    New Labour came to power in benign economic circumstances and with a three-figure majority. That's when you find out what a party is really all about.

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  52. Alex
    August 27, 2014 @ 2:51 am

    "IMO Lady Shapes would be more BBC3, Monkey Tennis is determinately Sat night BBC1 in the Tumble, Don't Scare the Hare slot"

    😀 A fair point! Now hold on, I think Arm-wrestling with Chas and Dave is about to start on Channel 5…

    Reply

  53. Aylwin
    August 27, 2014 @ 4:15 am

    Couldn't agree more. Actually, I nearly said the same thing myself, but in the end I left it out, which may have given a rather distorted impression in the last paragraph there. In suggesting that equivalence I was speaking more about Lib Dem involvement in the coalition as perceived by a hostile audience (which would include most people, these days, but Labour people especially) than the more complex reality.

    Reply

  54. Doctor Memory
    August 29, 2014 @ 11:46 am

    BerserkRL: be careful what you suggest. I've heard people semi-seriously moot Chris Chibnall as the next showrunner…

    Reply

  55. Alexander Bennetts
    August 30, 2014 @ 1:23 am

    "Day of the Doctor had to be funded by removing an episode from Season Eight and Season Nine" does anyone have a citation for this? I'm super curious — I always thought the S7 two-year split/docked episode from S8 were enough to fund the DotD, but maybe that's totally wrong.

    Reply

  56. Allyn Gibson
    August 30, 2014 @ 7:13 am

    This doesn't sound right to me, either. I recall dimly that when series 7 was announced the anniversary special was part of the commission.

    Reply

  57. Charles Knight
    August 31, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

    I think you got the wrong end of the stick with the private eye rumours which were written in the particular code that Private Eye uses to get around the libel laws…

    Reply

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