Sunday, August 28, 2011

Harry Potter syndrome?

This post has nothing whatever to do with politics, but I must just note in passing my horror that I seem to have unwittingly agreed with Tom Harris about something on Twitter. Observe...

Kate Higgins : I'm kinda struggling with #drwho these days. Have they forgotten that it's actually a kids' programme and we adults are just incidental?

Me : I think it's really supposed to be a family show - adults and children are equally important.

Sophia Pangloss : Ah think ye underestimate the weans there. Plenty fer them tae laugh at an get feared o in there.

Tom Harris : It's not a kids' programme - it's a *family* programme aimed at kids and adults.

Kate Higgins : @TomHarrisMP @JamesKelly @SophiaPangloss Almost identical responses - methinks you all protest too much. It's Harry Potter syndrome...

I presume what Kate means is that all three of us are adults who like watching Doctor Who, but I don't think any of us are actually 'protesting' about that. I was a young child when I first got the bug, and I'm absolutely certain I would have found the programme a good deal less exciting if I hadn't been aware that it was partly aimed at adults. That's the paradox of appealing to children - they don't like being talked down to, which is why they often prefer to watch programmes that are intended for an adult audience, let alone a family one.

Personally, I find it quite dismaying that so many people (including some in the TV industry itself) don't seem to get the concept of a genuinely family audience - it appears the attitude is that if something is accessible to children, it must by definition be exclusively for children. That was an assumption Doctor Who suffered from terribly during its original 26-year-run - whenever it occasionally degenerated (if I can use that word) into a programme aimed mainly at seven-year-olds, audiences of all ages deserted it in droves. All of the best stories from the 'classic series' (with a few honourable exceptions such as The Curse of Peladon) are actually very adult - and that includes the early shows from 1963/4 that first got the public hooked. Indeed, the original characters reflected the broad-ranging audience that was being sought - the Doctor as played by William Hartnell was the elderly 'grandfather' figure, two of his companions were substitute 'parent' figures in their thirties, and there was just one 'child'. And even she was fifteen!


  1. You agreed with Tom Harris!!

    Get ye behind me, Satan!!

    Still, it's interesting to note that Tom's a Doctor Who fan. He's just went up in my estimations.

  2. What do think of "Let's Kill Hitler"?


  3. Hi, John, I haven't had a chance to watch it yet - hopefully I'll catch up on the iplayer later today.

  4. You won't like it, the boss Chap making the series is very anti-scots ;)

    Love the self-parody, listen to the dialogue, you need to