So next week’s Radio Times, in all newsagents now, features a big picture of the mutant Dalek that will, apparently, be the cliffhanger ending to Saturday’s episode. A pithy headline also makes it quite clear what the nature of the mutant is.
Can anybody see why it might not be such a surprising cliffhanger moment any more?
Russell T. Davies (who judging by last week’s offering can write a beautiful 45-minute episode after all, just not very often) explains the cover thus: “It isn’t revealed until the end of the episode, and we don’t want to give away too much. But we love a Radio Times cover – how could we not?”
To which the answer is, “by being a bit less of a media whore and trying to salvage the occasion surprise for the spoiler-obsessed youth of 2007”.
Oft-maligned producer of 80s Doctor Who John Nathan Turner was offered a Radio Times cover featuring the Cybermen when he unexpectedly brought them back at the end of the first episode of “Earthshock”. It is very much to his credit that he turned it down, sacrificing a significant amount of publicity for a shock revelation that (perhaps for the last time ever in the show’s history) genuinely took everyone by surprise.
Mind you, restraint has not exactly been the watchword for Russell T. Davies. One fears that “how could we not?” is pretty much the attitude behind his every decision. cf Torchwood: “But we love an unexplained, meaningless, badly-realised computer generated pterodactyl – how could we not?”