There’s something odd about the BBC web site. Well, specifically the BBC’s Doctor Who web site. Every episode of the series has had a podcast, sometimes graced by David Tennant and Russell T Davies, sometimes not. You can download them separately from each episode’s web page. There are even instructions on how to subscribe to them on the site. But the bizarre thing is, there’s no direct link for subscribing. Here are the iTunes instructions.
Search for “Doctor Who Commentaries” and you should find our feed. Otherwise, follow the instructions below
Which is odd, because if you have iTunes, all you have to do is click this link that I’ve just made and it’ll subscribe you to the podcast automatically: Rob’s Doctor Who iTunes podcast hyperlink. Given the technical sophistication of the rest of the site, you’d have thought they could have made it a little bit easier, but they didn’t.
Which gets me nicely onto the podcasts themselves. They’re really not all they could be. For that we have to go to the US.
Undoubtedly the gold standard in podcasts, it’s great just to listen to Battlestar Galactica’s Exec Producer(s) explain all the thinking that went into the episode, how it was filmed and so on. The Doctor Who podcast trawls the shallows a bit in comparison and is more than a little self-congratulatory. Ronald D Moore may have a show with a gadzillion times the budget of Doctor Who and considerably higher US ratings, but unlike RTD and co, he’s perfectly prepared to admit when an episode or scene stank. There is, incidentally, a great interview with him over on Podcast411.
As well as the standard episode commentaries, there have also been three recordings of writers’ meetings, where we get to hear how one particular episode was whittled into shape. It’s fascinating to hear the various iterations of the show as it slowly became closer to the televised form. Well, it is for me.
Anyone watching in the UK probably isn’t going to want to listen to the later episodes of this particular podcast, but the earlier ones should be safe. It’s quite instructive to listen to, since rather than a standard DVD-style commentary, the podcasts contain interviews with the cast, previews of the next episode, and explanations and clarifications of the previous episode (always vital with Lost) by the exec producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who actually now have their own theme tune thanks to a listener competition. Lindelof and Cuse also answer questions from Lost fans, usually by insulting them slyly or using extreme sarcasm, which is more than worth the free entrance fee. As if that weren’t enough, there are occasional additional podcasts with behind-the-scenes tours.
Now, while Doctor Who is doing well to have a podcast, its own dedicated web site (if you want to see a sorry web site, go look at the ITV site. That needs life support) and TARDISodes, it’s being edged out in a couple of areas. Don’t you think we owe it to the BBC to ensure we keep the lead with high podcast quality?