Do you like fish fingers and custard?: Doctor Who goes to Sunderland

Wednesday 31 March 2010, 14:45

Phil Roberts Phil Roberts

Tagged with:

The Doctor Who tour bus
I've just seen a seven foot monster on the streets of Sunderland - but don't worry, it was actually an actress called Sarah - after a good hour or so in make-up, that is. The result was impressive. She was there playing a Weeping Angel at a Doctor Who premier that I hosted yesterday. The event was one of five over three days: part of a whistle-stop tour to mark the beginning of a new series of Doctor Who - and a new cast to match. Our event included a preview screening of the first episode, which worked really well in the University of Sunderland's HD cinema. The programme was introduced by none other than the new Doctor himself, Matt Smith, and his Assistant, Karen Gillan. They arrived on a branded tour bus (see pic above) - not quite the TARDIS, but still certainly impressive. Allocating the 200 tickets for the event actually turned out to be a little controversial. We knew from the outset that it wasn't possible to open the premieres to members of the public, so we worked with BBC Outreach to pre-ticket the event. We felt that the fairest way to distribute tickets was by working with local primary schools. However, we also knew that some fans may still feel disappointed - and we were right. We had numerous requests for entry and there was even a Facebook group set up protesting that the events should be opened up to the public.
Children at the Doctor Who event, Sunderland University
Even I've been surprised by the reaction - the strength of the Doctor Who brand is amazing - we've even had requests for memorabilia from the tour to be put on sale. We weren't able to hold any additional premieres, so couldn't help the fans who got in touch, but I do hope that hasn't put them off. There will, however, be public events to mark the new series at BBC Big Screens from 1st to 3rd April in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Plymouth and Swansea. After the event, I still feel this we ran the ticketing system in the fairest way possible and having such a young audience created a real buzz on the day. The children seemed genuinely excited - as were all us adults! The highlight of the day had to be the moment when Matt and Karen arrived and all the kids started screaming and applauding like mad. Alfie Joey from BBC Newcastle did a great job of keeping the audience entertained while we were waiting for the bus to pull into the University campus, as well as during the Q&A session after the episode. One young member of the audience posed the insightful question to the Doctor: "Do you like fish fingers and custard?" I can reveal, hot off the press, for all you fans that the answer is "Yes!"
Karen Gillan and Matt Smith
For me, the event was a great example of the BBC working better together internally - joining up with the Doctor Who team from Wales, BBC Outreach in London and getting some great coverage for my teams at BBC Newcastle and Look North. See for yourself by watching the film. I also think it was a great day for Sunderland. We worked in partnership with the University and their team did a great job. We had the local and regional press there and I got a genuine sense of taking the best of the BBC to a place where you wouldn't usually find it, which was another key motivation for this tour. Sunderland was chosen as a location in the context of BBC North, which is all about focusing more of the BBC's resources in the north of England. The most significant piece of that project is the relocation of BBC Sport and Children's (amongst other departments) from London to MediaCity in Salford. MediaCity will open next year and I'm optimistic that means we'll see more evidence of the BBC's commitment right across the north. Now I'm looking forward to the Doctor Who series starting on TV so I can see what happens next! The first episode will air on BBC One at 6.20pm on Saturday 3rd April. Check out all the action from the tour at

Phil Roberts is Head of the BBC in the North East and Cumbria

Tagged with:


Jump to comments pagination

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

As English as Egg and Bacon: The Boat Race

Tuesday 30 March 2010, 14:46

Religious programming on the BBC over Easter

Thursday 1 April 2010, 15:40

About this Blog

This blog explains what the BBC does and how it works. We link to some other blogs and online spaces inside and outside the corporation. The blog is edited by Jon Jacob.

Follow About the BBC on Twitter

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

External links about the BBC

BBC Three online proposals set out as relaunch scheduled for autumn 2015 (Digital Spy)
"This is not moving a TV channel and putting it online. This is new. We are the first broadcaster in the world to propose something like this."

BBC Three to cut Don't Tell the Bride and other reality TV shows when channel moves online (Independent)

BBC theme park featuring Doctor Who and Top Gear set to open in 2020 (Telegraph)

JK Rowling's Cormoran Strike crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling will be turned into BBC series (Daily Mail)
"With the rich character of Cormoran Strike at their heart, these dramas will be event television across the world."

Yentob leads the BBC fightback: we're being smeared for exposing Fake Sheikh (Independent)

BBC Makes Unprecedented Counter-Attack To Sun Editorial Accusing It Of Left-Wing Bias (Huffington Post)

Serial podcast set to air on Radio 4 Extra (Radio Times)
"We know we already have tons of Serial listeners in the UK but we love that the BBC will help us reach many, many more than we ever could with podcast alone"

BBC iPlayer launches on Xbox One (Broadband TV News)

BBC ‘a great British company, not a government department’: Danny Cohen (Guardian)
"I ask you to stand by the BBC in the year ahead. Support it, make the case for it, speak up for it, celebrate its achievements and help us make sure we can keep offering such an extraordinary range of programmes for all audiences."

See Doctor Who, Miranda, more in BBC Christmas trailer (Digital Spy)

The BBC is right to point out failure on debt. Osborne is wrong to complain about it (The Spectator)

Chris Morris returns to airwaves with new sketch on BBC 6 Music on Sunday (Guardian)
"Blue Jam and On the Hour satirist’s first radio sketch in 15 years will be broadcast on Mary Anne Hobbs’ morning show"

BBC releases game maker kit for kids (Ariel)

BBC Music Sound of 2015 longlist revealed (Guardian)
"Solo artists such as James Bay, George The Poet and Raury make up most of this year’s list of musicians tipped for big things in 2015"

Why Gillian Anderson is the new Helen Mirren (Telegraph)

War and Peace to take over Radio 4: Ten-hour production of Tolstoy's novel to be broadcast on station on New Year's Day (Daily Mail)

Sherlock returns: BBC confirms special with picture of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman back filming (Mirror)

The Reith Lectures explain why doctors fail (Telegraph)
"Dr Atul Gawande delivered an excellent first lecture on the fallibility of medicine, says Gillian Reynolds"

Nine-year-old Katie Morag star on winning BAFTA award and juggling TV series with school lessons (Scottish Daily Record)

Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Same-sex couple dance received positively (Metro)

Doctor Who, Andrew Scott and Sir Ian McKellen up for BBC Audio Drama Awards 2015 (Radio Times)
"Maxine Peake, Marcus Brigstocke and Toby Jones also scoop nominations for their work in audio drama"

Last updated Thursday 11 December 2014

Blogs from across the BBC

Selected by the About the BBC Blog team.

Making radio [BBC Outreach & Corporate Responsibilty]
Award-winning research [Media Action]
BBC Online Briefing Winter 2014: keynote [Internet]
Booking agents: how they can develop your act [BBC Introducing]
Introducing Emma Smith one of our new 2015 Fellows [BBC Performing Art Fund]

MatOf ThDay At 50: onic theme even has a banjo [TV]