Friday, 5 April 2013

Doctor Who versus The Daily Mirror

Hello. Quick request for you this week. You know how I love Doctor Who? And how I hate the way tabloids misrepresent the truth? Well, look how angry I get to be when the two collide!

In the last week of March, the Daily Mirror ran this story:

Not the one about Carol Vorderman's nose. The Doctor Who one.

That last word is 'Scandal'

That text reads 'Two gay Doctor Who executives sexually abused young fans visiting the BBC studios...'

That's Colin Baker, in the dreadful coat that looks like he was vomited on by the cast of Yellow Submarine. He was Doctor Who for a bit, in the 1980s. A casual glance at the paper makes it look pretty likely that, as well as wearing the worst coat on television, Baker was also guilty of some pretty horrible sex offences. You know, like Jimmy Saville. Nudge nudge.

Pretty disturbing stuff.

Can you spot the bit where it says Colin Baker was not involved?

It's there, in really tiny print, just over John Nathan Turner's groin. Dangerous place to hover, if you believe the article. Certainly not the first place you are going to look.

And of course that's how these papers work. They plaster something massively misleading in huge, screaming letters on their front pages, desperate for the attention of the public, like hyperactive children hoping to be noticed. Further into the article they'll calm down, and make some tiny, lawyer appeasing qualification that stops them being sued into infinity. Maybe, if really pressed, they'll publish an apology later on, buried somewhere deep inside the paper.

But the damage is done. The clear implication of a glance at this front page - and a glance will constitute most people's engagement with the story - is that the two men here are guilty of abusing young boys. It will join the mix of misinformation and hysteria about the Saville case and the tabloid lead attack on the BBC. Colin Baker is clearly one of the gay executives. Just look at his coat! He's clearly up to no good.

Colin himself is very upset. I'll admit, I'm no huge fan of his time as Doctor Who (except Mindwarp, which is great and features a brain stealing slug), but I have a great deal of affection for the man. In fact, everything I've gathered about Colin Baker indicates that he is a kind, intelligent, good humoured man. He is the father to four daughters, a witty writer and a tireless worker for charity.

I don't think he should have to put up with this crap. Already he has been abused in the street by people who don't bother to read the fine print. He must live in terror of the kind of villification which tabloid hysteria can lead to. A misleading headline like this is all the excuse some people need to take matters into their own hands. And that's the really horrible thing here - the utter lack of responsibility papers like The Mirror accept for their misleading and deceitful actions. For the sake of sales, these papers turn people into nasty, vicious morons. They normalise unthinking hatred and self righteous bigotry in the name of attention grabbing headlines.

There's no easy way to stop these callous pricks. We can refuse to read their trashy papers, or to click on their links to add to their advertising revenue (which is why there's no link to the Mirror here). And we can protest.

There is a petition to get the Daily Mirror to apologise to Colin. I've signed it. If you could too, that'd be great.

sign the petition

If you want to know more about the case, you can read Colin's article here. Or you can follow the man on twitter here. He's very entertaining.

I love Doctor Who. I hate the tabloids. I'm beginning to think that's a very sound basis for morality.