BBC Says 3D Has Had Its Day (Of The Doctor)

BBC Says 3D Has Had Its Day (Of The Doctor)

While the exact viewing figures have yet to be released, Saturday night's one-off special Doctor Who episode was beamed to ninety-four countries around the globe. In England alone it was shown simultaneously in 400 cinemas and to 8000 fans at a Doctor Who themed fancy dress party at London's ExCel.

In my house we'd been building up to the episode all day, with a run of sci-fi themed movies and programmes on the telly and a cash-and-carry sized box of Jelly Babies at our disposal.

When 7:50pm arrived, we donned our 3D glasses and settled down to what was, frankly, one of the best Doctor Who episodes in a while, the last season having seemed to go somewhat wayward and become a little too complex for anyone under the age of nine hundred and eighty one.

The curveball of throwing in John Hurt as the ninth Doctor did, admittedly, have my children gabbling all the way to midnight, the youngest still trying to figure out just how Christopher Ecclestone could now be the tenth doctor when all along he's known him as the ninth. And it will surely have age-old fans pondering how the BBC will manage the remainder of the Doctor's regenerations - in Doctor Who lore, he can only regenerate twelve times, meaning thirteen incarnations of the character.

John Hurt's just spoiled that party, then, as it means Peter Capaldi, who takes over from Matt Smith at Christmas, will now be the thirteenth - and, technically, the final - Doctor.

Hang on, did you say 3D...?

Yes, didn't you know? The episode was broadcast in 3D to cinemas around the globe, and via the BBC's Red Button service.

It is also the last programme to ever be broadcast by the BBC in 3D, who are giving up on the technology, citing lack of interest by consumers. (Well for three years, at least; if we all still have 3D TVs in 2016 they might give it another bash.)

It's true that 3D televisions have struggled to generate much interest, so manufacturers have turned their attention to ultra-expensive 4K sets instead, but there are people out there with 3D televisions and the only reason there hasn't been much uptake in watching 3D programmes is because there hasn't been much content for us to watch.

To top that, not only has there not been much content available but, when the content has been available, nobody has told us about it. I only found out about the 3D broadcast of Doctor Who while watching Graham Norton on Friday night, who didn't mention anything about it being in 3D on TV, just that it would be in 3D in cinemas.

In my house, we use the 3D function on our television whenever possible. We watched the Queen's Speech in 3D at Christmas last year, we regularly play video games in 3D and, when a 3D version of a Blu-Ray we're interested in is available, we buy that copy instead.

On Saturday morning I tweeted that the programme would be broadcast in 3D, and it was retweeted by the BBC technology programme Click. The result was that people asked which channel it was on, so that they could watch it in 3D too; they were as clueless as me.

It may well have been listed in the electronic programme guides, but my wife always views me with suspicion if I flick to any of the channels north of 900 on our Sky planner. After last night's excellent viewing I wonder how many other 3D programmes the BBC have shown this year that I've known nothing about.

So, sadly, while the Doctor is about to be reincarnated in to his final life, the BBC's foray in to three dimensional broadcasting has come to a rather anonymous end. But TV is full of magical ways of bringing characters back to life; just look at Bobby Ewing. I'm sure someone, somewhere, is already working out the relative dimensions to extend the Doctor's regenerations.

Perhaps somebody could also look at regenerating 3D at the BBC too. Only next time, tell us when the programmes are on. Maybe then we can all watch them.

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