This is a slightly different approach than the usual. The BBC hoped that they could leverage interest in, say, Doctor Who into interest in classical music. But the Doctor Who audience are, of course, interested in Doctor Who so I think that counts as another case of trying to turn classical music into something else. Other examples include the use of videos, light shows, venues more suited to other kinds of music like pubs and parking garages, costumes, and so on. Every single one of these strategies involves trying to turn the music into something else, or inserting an element that does nothing but distract from the music. How does that make sense?The BBC is turning its back on TV-themed Proms after finding no evidence that audiences for Doctor Who or Strictly concerts develop a lasting love of classical music.Sherlock and CBeebies have also been given the Proms treatment in recent years, along with Sir David Attenborough's natural history shows.But the BBC has decided to “try other things” after conceding that concerts based around its television brands have not succeeded in building new audiences.
I'm afraid that the only method likely to work is the slow and incremental one of actually taking the time and effort to inform your audiences and spark their interest, not in Doctor Who or some odd distraction, but in the music itself. I'm a big Doctor Who fan, and what drew me to the show was that I became interested in it for what it was in itself. Mind you, I can understand why the promotors wanted to try these different linkages as a way of attracting new listeners. But it didn't seem to have the desired effect.
I think you have to go deeper in the audience supply chain! How do people get interested in classical music? What are the "gateway drugs" as it were? What age does this happen at? Under what circumstances are people open to this kind of new experience? How much of an effect do music lessons at an early age have? What about the experience of ensemble playing? What about classes in music appreciation? All this frightfully dull stuff is probably more to the point than just putting on a concert with a Doctor Who angle.
Hey, here is an idea. Now I have not by any means seen most of the Doctor Who episodes, so perhaps they have done this, but wouldn't it be extremely helpful if there was a Doctor Who show that referenced music? In the Fifth Series there is a show where the Doctor and his companion go back in time and visit Vincent van Gogh in his later years and it was a wonderful introduction to his work as an artist in a very Whovian manner. A show where they visit Mozart or Bach or Stravinsky would be equally inspirational, I think.
But what do I know?
Since we are talking about the Proms, let's have a piece from the Last Night of the Proms for our envoi. This is Finlandia, one of Sibelius' early successes. The artists are Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra: