Doctor Who EP: Creators should ignore Twitter feedback

McCann panel sessionDoctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat has said creators should ignore the feedback about their work on Twitter, and derided the role of research in creating hit TV shows.

Speaking with Moffat on a panel curated by McCann on The Truth About Universal Storytelling Gareth Neame, a producer of hit British show Downton Abbey, said TV creators must “find a way to make sure your work does not get fucked up”.

Moffat, who also co-created the series Sherlock, is regarded as one of the leading screenwriters in the world, echoed that sentiment, and when asked about the feedback loop on social media, said: “It’s wonderful to have it, and it is the cradle of next generation of creators, but you have to completely ignore it.

“It’s easy to think it’s everyone talking about your show, but the actual audience is 100 per cent outside of Twitter. The Twitter reaction is not the voice of the audience.

“Most people who watch a mainstream show never express a public opinion about it for most of their lives. Twitter is having fun talking about your show, its not a way off getting useful constructive criticism about your work.”

Neame said for TV producers writing scripts on the fly it meant people could complain about inconsistencies long after they had happened, adding: “Most of the time my job is to make sure I have a script ready to shoot.

“What happens is five years later someone comes along and interrogates something which was written to shoot the next day. These things are like novels now.”

Talking about how it was best for producers to pitch ideas to commissioners Moffat said: “Research is a very useful tool for finding out what would have been a good show last year. But commissioners respond to passion.

“Most successful shows buck some kind of trend, they always say it’s a surprise hit, but what other kind of hit is there?”

On creating Downton Abbey, which started to air during the global financial crisis when tensions between the well-off and poor were came to the fore in Britain Neame said it had been “fortuitous timing” and not something he was conscious of.

“If there’s a success people are always desperate to find out why there’s a success and the great thing with entertainment is no-one ever knows,” he added.

Another panellist was Gale Anne Hurd, a producer on The Walking Dead, said the producers did not kill off or protect popular characters to get ratings, adding: “The minute you start over analyzing why you’re doing something, or do something to elicit greater ratings, that’s when you jump the shark. A character only dies if their arc has been completed.”

Co-founder of Drama Fever, which licenses shows from around the world to show to audiences in the Americas, Suk Park, said they work on the assumption there is a massive and growing demand for foreign content.

He added: “There’ s growing community of Millennials that are hyper connected and raised in a multi-lingual environment and they are seeking out foreign content for their own edification.”

Alex Hayes in Cannes

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