Sherlock at the BFI - my thoughts

I must admit to being decidedly irritated by the whole business of the première of Sherlock series three being at the BFI in December.

Before we knew it the word was out there - Sherlock to premiere in the UK in December. Twitter could barely contain itself. In part, I think the BBC's failure to, so far, give a broadcast date has fuelled this hysteria. Some people in the UK seemed desperate for bona fide confirmation that the UK was going to have it first. True, the BBC said it would be broadcast here before the US but without a date it just wasn't the cast-iron guarantee that some people wanted. They wanted (needed?) a date to cling on to.

So the BFI has now provided one. The problem is that virtually no one will get to see it. Some press (probably too many), BFI members (fair enough) and a few non-members will form the audience.

Statistically, there is a significant chance that some of those viewing the show will feel a sense of power over the rest of us - I've seen something you've not seen. Even now, people who have secured tickets are crowing about it on social media and their celebrations are being re-tweeted around by the disappointed. How many of the "fortunate" will post spoilers or have spoilers dragged out of them by those simply incapable of waiting?

I think this BFI screening and its Q&A session have the potential to spoil things for a good many people. The Q&A, which is apparently going to be streamed over the Internet, will inevitably contain spoilers as the cast and crew respond to questions from those who watched the screening. Where is the sense in allowing masses of people to see the Q&A (and not the programme) when it is bound to contain spoilers of some magnitude or other?

This has been badly handled I think.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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  1. I'm actually glad about spoilers. I tend to run out of the room or sometimes even turn the tv off, if things get too intense for me. Had I not seen nearly the whole second season in tiny little bits on youtube beforehand, I don't think I'd been able to handle it. And yes, I'm a wimp, I know.

  2. A few points in friendly response:

    1. This happened last year. We were not all spoiled half to death by the event.

    2. Many tv dramas have a preview screening with press and production in attendance. This is standard practice. I attended two last month and have two lined up for the next month. Why should Sherlock be treated differently?

    3. The BFI has not provided it. They have provided it in conjunction with the BBC who will have controlled dates and a certain amount of ticket restrictions. To reduce it down to a BFI issue is an oversimplification.

    4. I rather feel you underestimate the will power of the 'fortunate'. Why should there be more spoilers this year than last? Will they be tortured to reveal their secrets? Can they not be credited with wanting to preserve the suspense for the majority?

    5. My feeling is that most of the members who got tickets will be people who are longer standing members of the BFI. That site is glitchy and if you've used it before you had an advantage. Simple as that. They will, on the whole, understand the point and purpose of a preview screening of one of the most important cornerstones of the BBC's upcoming drama output.

    6. So far as I can tell the Q&A will not be streamed. It is not usually. An edited selection of highlights are posted after an event. I would be staggered if this will not be done without content approval by BBC executives or the production team. I have a deerstalker that may be eaten if they stream it live and unedited. The BFI in fact tweeted, "We'll be making a video of the Q&A available online" and "There are no current plans for live-streaming, but we will be filming the Q&A and making it available online."

    Was this run perfectly? Absolutely not. In particular I would suggest a ballot should have been put in place and in person bookings were handled appallingly. However I feel it is important not to place Sherlock outside the usual procedures for similar dramas and to be very accurate about what the BFI have actually said versus rumours.

  3. 1. I don’t think there was the same level of interest. After all, no one was coming back from the dead which, let’s face it, is the main thing people are interested in with this episode.

    2. In terms of steps taken this may be no different than for other dramas but the audience “need” for Sherlock, in my opinion, makes the situation different. Other dramas, in the main, really don't have the same level of interest compared to Sherlock.

    3. I stand corrected.

    4. My experience of Twitter is that many cannot be trusted to preserve said suspense. The spoilers and videos released during the filming of this series illustrated that. It may not be the majority but it only takes one Tweet and others to re-tweet.

    5. I have no problem with members of the BFI.

    6. I had heard differently, but not from the horses mouth, so I'm happy that you've set that straight. However, if they remove all questions or, more to the point, answers that have spoilery elements I imagine it will be quite a dull Q&A. A large number of the questions I would imagine relate to the plot of the episode.


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