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Doctor Who: the unfolding event - marketing, merchandising and mediatizing a brand anniversary

Doctor Who: the unfolding event - marketing, merchandising and mediatizing a brand anniversary

Hills, Matt, 1971- author

The BBC TV series Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013; this book analyses how promotion, commemorative merchandise and 3D cinema screenings worked paratextually to construct a 'popular media event' while sometimes uneasily integrating public service values and consumerist logics

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
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Available: Online

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Statement of responsibility: Matt Hills
ISBN: 1137463325, 9781137463326
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: vii, 146 pages
Series: Palgrave pivot
Subject: Popular culture; Business and Management.; Doctor Who (Television program : 2005-); Sales & marketing; Television; Later 20th century c 1950 to c 1999; Performing arts; United Kingdom, Great Britain; Films, cinema; Film history, theory & criticism; 21st century, c 2000 to c 2100; Media studies; Business & Management; Advertising Television programs.
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Series Title: Palgrave pivot.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781137463319


  1. Introduction: Media Anniversaries
  2. Brand, Paratext, Event. and the Hype of the Doctor1. Marketing the 50th Anniversary
  3. Brand Management and the Cultural Value of the Doctor2. Merchandising the 50th Anniversary
  4. Public Service Consumption in the Name of the Doctor 3. Mediatizing the 50th Anniversary
  5. Cinematic Liveness and the 'Developing Art' of the Doctor

Author note

Matt Hills is Professor of Film and Television Studies at Aberystwyth University, UK. He is the author of five previous books, including Fan Cultures (2002) and Triumph of a Time Lord (2010), and the editor of New Dimensions of Doctor Who (2013). Matt has published widely on media fandom.


Brand anniversaries have become a regular part of today's popular culture, yet they have received surprisingly little analysis. Doctor Who: The Unfolding Event takes the BBC's flagship science fiction TV programme, and its 50th anniversary in 2013, as a case study. Anniversaries involve the proliferation of 'paratexts', e.g. trailers, merchandise, and conventions; this book considers how these paratexts can relate to one another, as well as being incoherent or ambiguous rather than cueing textual meanings. It tackles the brand anniversary as a 'popular media event' that is pre-planned and yet can also be contingently disrupted. Analysing how Doctor Who's 50th worked as a 'BBC metonym', and how 'public service consumption' has contributed to the BBC's cultural reproduction rather than harming its distinctive ethos, this study demonstrates that brand anniversaries are about asserting contemporary relevance. Doctor Who's 50th achieved this via an innovative 3D cinema/TV simulcast. Rather than dismissing anniversaries as commercial 'pseudo-events', we need to take their bids for cultural value more seriously.


"Hills delivers the goods again, with a superb, focused examination of Who that expands and energizes discussion of texts, paratexts, media events, marketing, merchandising, and media temporality. Doctor Who: The Unfolding Event is wonderfully nuanced, thoughtfully composed, and offers as much to those who don't know the Doctor as to those who do." - Jonathan Gray, author of Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts