This November the Excel Exhibition Centre in London will once again host a Doctor Who event featuring cast, crew and plenty of other activities. In 2013, the Doctor Who Celebration marked the 50th anniversary on a grand scale with multiple Doctors and companions in attendance and subsequently tickets sold out in 24 hours. Tickets for the Doctor Who festival went on sale at 10am on June 5th but are still available. So what has changed? Is Doctor Who losing its appeal or have fans reacted unfavourably to another expensive event designed to increase revenues for BBC Worldwide?
Firstly, the issue of ticket price has to be addressed. In 2013 the standard adult ticket was £45 per day. In 2015 that has increased to £65. That equates to a 45% increase on the original ticket price. Similarly, the special TARDIS tickets have increased from £95.50 to £110 for adults and for a family they have increased from £218 to a staggering £285. On that evidence it is hard to argue that BBC Worldwide are not just simply trying to squeeze money from the passionate fans who adore the show. However, TARDIS tickets have already sold out for the Festival, which does demonstrate the faithfulness of the fans but are they being catered for as well as they could be?
The event itself is hardly original. In 2012 an official convention was held at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay at an astonishing £99 a ticket. This convention allowed organisers to recognise what would provide the structure of all future events, guests gathered in an auditorium whilst on stage cast and crew discuss the show. In addition to this, guests could book to get autographs and photographs with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, however those opportunities were of course limited and at an additional cost. This was largely repeated at the Doctor Who Celebration in 2013 but on a grander scale. Now it appears that the Doctor Who Festival will replicate it once again. Perhaps this is an indication of why there are still tickets available; fans have seen these events all before. So perhaps this is the reason fans are wary of spending significant amounts of money to attend events similar to previous ones they’ve already attended? It is also proved from previous experience that the exclusive merchandise sold at the event will later make its way onto official merchandise outlet sites at a reduced price, devaluing the so called ‘exclusive’ prestige. In addition to the Festival this year there has also been the Symphonic Spectacular tour, plus the Doctor Who Experience attraction. Therefore, there are plenty of activities that Doctor Who fans can spend their hard earned money on to engage with the show and those are just the official events.
Unofficial conventions are staged every weekend all over the world and offer the opportunity to engage with the actors more closely than just seeing them up on a stage. To many it is that brief 30 seconds with a star that provides the highlight of their day and a memorable experience. That simply isn’t possible when thousands of people are sat in an auditorium. Those thousands of tickets sold, plus the high ticket price, point to a big revenue generator but perhaps this perceived apathy from fans failing to purchase tickets is a sign that organisers need to not only reevaluate their pricing policy but also the format of the events that they hold.