"Stiff upper lip, chaps! Remember you're ... er... English!"
I wrote to Auntie Beeb regarding the bile-filled slur on the English in a recent episode of Dr Who and heard nothing back. Perhaps it was because I pointed them to my original blog article on the subject and informed them that any replies from them would be published.
But Wonko has been... er... luckier. Auntie Beeb has favoured him with a load of claptrap which does not address the issue at all: how, in a programme which religiously refers to "Britain" and "British" are the English suddenly singled out when it comes to pointing the finger of negativity?
The letter as it appears at Wonko's World:
I was sorry to hear that you were not happy with Episode 11 of ‘Doctor Who’, which was broadcast on 21 June 2008.
I can assure you there was no agenda in either the development or execution of this episode to besmirch the English or promote any kind of anti-English agenda. We wanted to look at the kind of world that might have been created, within the universe of Doctor Who, should the Doctor and Donna have never met. Within that story, England endures catastrophic events, ranging from closed borders, housing, and food and fuel shortages to nuclear holocaust. Within this landscape, the global economy has collapsed, America cannot send aid and the Earth is facing extinction. Within those extreme circumstances, it is very possible to suggest that a nation would begin to turn inward looking and seek to isolate those it considers to be foreign. In the episode, France has likewise closed its own borders. We may not like the behaviour of the nations in this moment - certainly not - but it is a truthful proposition within the story we’re telling.
The reason I believe the series is loved by so many families, is that the stories encourage children to examine the world around them. It allows them, within a safe, fictional world, where they can hold the Doctor or Donna’s hand, to feel loneliness, fear and sadness. Mr Colosanto’s removal to a labour camp does have echoes of events in the Second World War, but within the parameters we set for 7pm Saturday night and within the story we’re telling, that is surely no bad thing.
‘Doctor Who’ is written, directed and edited for a family audience to enjoy. The production complies with stringent editorial policy processes within the BBC. Decisions are made carefully, across every episode, about how far to show human suffering or danger. These decisions are made at script stage, on the production floor and in the edit. Nothing said or shown in the Episode failed to comply with our editorial standard policies or troubled our judgement, as producers, within the rigorous parameters we set in making the series.
Thank you for taking the time to contact the BBC with your concerns.
Executive Producer, Doctor Who
As Wonko points out, it's one of those cut and paste jobbies, sent out en masse and it does not answer the original question: why was "English" suddenly subsituted for "British" in a programme normally awash with "Britishness" when it came to a nasty bit of finger pointing? And remember the original book title was "BRITAIN FOR THE BRITISH". This was consciously altered by the Beeb.
Also, how come England is suddenly a nation? The BBC usually refers to the "nations and regions of the UK", echoing Gordon Brown's mantra, with the "nations" being Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the regions being the country formally known as England. There are also occasional references to the UK or "Britain" as a nation, but NEVER England alone.
Wonko says he's getting on the blower to Auntie tomorrow. Go for it!
Auntie trying to taint innocent young minds with her anti-English venom is simply not on.
Meanwhile, it strikes me that there was a bit of an OTT interest in who will be the new Doctor on the political blogosphere last night. Grow up, boys. Keep it for the playground, eh?