In a remarkable series of ever hostile tweets, Edward Russell, Senior Brand Executive (formerly Brand Manager) of Doctor Who, took to social media tonight to belittle the very stars who queue up to star in the hit BBC One television series, all for the sake of gaining column inches.
Answering a number of criticisms to the way the PR department have been handling the ever dwindling viewing figures in what will be actor Peter Capaldi’s last full season as the Doctor, Russell (47), formerly administrator of the Madonna fansite Madonnarama, made the claim that the BBC do not cast the actors and actresses in the series for their suitability to the role or their talent to perform it, but because they are “names” who will pull in the viewers.
Despite this proving to be a futile tactic, it seems that Mr Russell does not believe actors of the caliber of John Simm, or David Suchet were cast because of their immense acting prowess, but purely because their faces would pull in a crowd. This begs the question if Jenna Coleman was purely cast to try and scoop up the soap audience from her Emmerdale days!
Belittling their status by describing them as “her off Happy Valley” or “him off Poldark”, he said that viewers were more likely to watch the serials if there was a known name in them, degrading the work these actors have done for years building their reputation, and demeaning the programme for having a cynical and condescending approach to casting, something which casting director Andy Pryor has never confirmed.
Seemingly becoming more agitated – even confronting a tweeter for shortening his name – Russell continued “That’s a fact, that’s why they’re cast!”
And when asked directly why the BBC decided to spoil the return of John Simm as the Master as early as the initial trailer for series 10 (when, as an example, his casting and appearance was kept a secret in Russell T Davies “Utopia”) Russell offered this opinion on the BAFTA and Olivier nominated actor “Casting is the number one draw!” and continued “We knew we had limited time. And it got column inches” and, despite the protests stressed “It was the right move”. This is something we observed many ordinary fans strongly disagree with last night, with their praise of an excellent episode tempered with frustration that such a remarkable reveal had been wasted with little or no improvement in the ratings.
Doctor Who itself has always attracted top talent, from movie star to lauded performers on the stage, and all have enthused at their excitement at being part of the iconic series and their delight at being chosen. We think perhaps if they had known they were being chosen cynically for their box office draw, they might not have been so pleased. Even down to his own limited involvement in the casting of Kylie Minogue, herself keen to prove she was an actress and not just a singer, Russell seems to have condemned these performances as nothing more than a gimmick or a PR stunt.
We just hope as new show runner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch) takes the helm of the series this autumn he can ushering in a more positive age with the show once again focusing on making quality TV rather than chasing ratings. If not we worry it’s going to continue damaging the shows reputation and prevent the show having the same caliber of guest star we’ve been enjoying for years.
Update: We’ve been advised that Ed Russell is taking an extended break from twitter. We wish him well!