BBC in need of Sonic Screwdriver to fix the Doctor Who AI breakdown

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has decided not to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into the advertising of the iconic show Doctor Who.

We reported earlier this month that David Housden, a senior executive with the BBC had initially said that there is “a rich variety of content in the Whoniverse collection on iPlayer to test and learn with, and Doctor Who thematically lends itself to AI, which is a bonus.”

Now the fans have spoken and the broadcaster has had to file an official statement saying “We have no plans to do this again to promote Doctor Who.”

BBC backpedals on AI incorporation

The Doctor Who Companion site was “disgusted” at the attempt to incorporate the generative AI into any aspect of the show.

The site would post that “shortly after the news was published, outrage from fans resulted in the (AI announcement) article being deleted — replaced by a webpage which states “Sorry, we couldn’t find that page.”

Housden had stated “We’re going to take it one step at a time, starting simple and learning as we go. We have chosen to start with Doctor Who, as it is a joint content priority for both BBC Public Service UK and BBC Studios marketing teams.”

This was a marquee moment for both the established pop culture character, who has fought storied battles against AI and robots in comics, television, and radio dramas, and the BBC.

The cherished Tardis-traveling Doctor and their fanbase won in the end. In response to the complaints levied at the BBC, the broadcaster released a statement acknowledging the backlash, writing:

“We received complaints about reports that the BBC is exploring generative AI in Doctor Who promotion.”

“As part of a small trial, marketing teams used generative AI technology to help draft some text for two promotional emails and mobile notifications to highlight Doctor Who programming available on the BBC.

We followed all BBC editorial compliance processes and the final text was verified and signed off by a member of the marketing team before it was sent.”

Doctor Who returns to BBC One and BBC iPlayer in May 2024 for the UK and Disney+ for the rest of the world.

As we reported earlier this year, Doctor Who will also be making a debut in the world of Fortnite to possibly coincide with this new series of science fiction adventures, according to well-established gaming leakers.

Image: BBC.

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Brian-Damien Morgan