From the New Oxford Dictionary of English:
, n. (informal, chiefly N. Amer.)
- (Baseball) a poorly hit fly ball landing just beyond the reach of the infielders.
- an embarrassing error.
I'll give you a clue: this site has nothing to do with baseball! The type of blooper I'm talking about are basically mistakes, goofs and other on-screen errors. They can take many forms:
- Actors messing up their lines;
- Actors tripping, stumbling, or bumping into things;
- Backstage personnel visible on screen;
- Blatantly obvious strings or supports on models;
- Sets or props wobbling;
- Boom microphones (or their shadows) visible in shot;
- Anachronisms (during stories set in Earth's past);
- Continuity errors (within the same story);
- Plot points or throwaway lines which blatantly contradict common sense, the laws of physics, etc.
You get the general idea. This list of bloopers contains over 2,500 examples of incompetence, inanity and incongruity from all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who (classic and new series). Many of them are subtle, requiring a sharp eye and one finger on the Pause button to be noticed — while others are so obvious it's painful.
The bloopers in this list are marked with either of the following icons:
– means that the blooper has been "verified" to ensure its accuracy (which means either I've watched the episode myself, or at least two separate contributors have reported the same blooper);
– means that the blooper hasn't been verified yet, so the description may not be 100% accurate, or it may not be a proper "blooper" as defined in this document.
Also, any new bloopers added since the last site update are highlighted in red.
First of all, the term "blooper reel" in fandom is often used to refer to out-takes, i.e. goofs which were never broadcast as part of the finished programme. This is not what I mean here. All the bloopers in this list were actually broadcast on-screen as part of the Doctor Who story in which they're listed.
Also, to appear on this list, a blooper must be self-contained within the story in which it appears — continuity errors spanning more than one story don't count. For example:
- In Pyramids of Mars, Sarah Jane says that she's "from 1980", but in Mawdryn Undead the Brigadier is clearly stated to have retired in 1977, so when exactly could stories like Terror of the Zygons (with both Sarah Jane and the Brigadier) have taken place?
- In The Five Doctors, how does the Second Doctor know that Jamie and Zoe had their memories wiped by the Time Lords? Immediately after that happened (in The War Games), he regenerated into the Third Doctor.
Errors like this, while interesting in themselves, are far too numerous (and many of them too contentious) to conveniently list. Life's much less complicated for me this way if I stick to "straight" bloopers and not get into a lengthy debate over how old the Doctor is supposed to be or what years the UNIT stories are set in.
In addition, bloopers must be reasonably "different" or interesting to get into the list — there are a great many minor, trivial errors, which would make the list very boring if every single one were to be painstakingly listed. The kind of errors I generally do not include on the list include the following:
- Actors stuttering or messing up their lines in a small way (e.g. practically every line William Hartnell ever spoke!);
- Accents slipping (e.g. Nicola Bryant lapsing into an English accent while playing Peri, supposedly an American);
- Appearances of female companions' underwear;
(Note: Sightings of these were so common, especially with mini-skirted companions like Jo or Zoe, that at one time there was a separate "Bloomer Bloopers" list elsewhere on the net — which (sadly?) no longer exists)
- Booms (or boom shadows) visible on camera;
- Incidences where the cliffhanger of episode X is different to the reprise at the start of episode X+1.
Note: Exceptions to any of the above are made if the blooper in question is especially blatant, prolonged, amusing, or otherwise interesting.
It may seem I'm making all this more complicated than it needs to be, but trust me — without the above restrictions, the Bloopers List would be hundreds of pages long, and incredibly boring to read!
One or two people have asked me what the point of this list is — all this nitpicking seems somewhat "sad" or pedantic, and if I enjoy Doctor Who so much, why have I devoted time and effort into creating a list of the programme's worst moments?
To be honest, I don't really have a good answer! In my defence, this sort of path is well-trodden in sci-fi fandom, with the Nitpicker's Guide series of books (covering Star Trek, Star Wars and The X-Files), plus TV programmes like Mystery Science Theater 3000 purely devoted to finding fault with science fiction. Call it post-modernism, call it mindless pedanticism, but I hope you'll also agree it's good, harmless fun. :-)
In case you're curious, I started compiling the Bloopers List back in early 1993 after watching Pyramids of Mars and noticing the infamous "Hand of Sutekh" scene. I posted a message to the rec.arts.drwho newsgroup to ask if anyone had noticed any similar gaffes, and received literally dozens of responses via email, so I gathered them all together into one document and posted it to the newsgroup. From such humble beginnings, the list has grown in size ten-fold, moved to a permanent home on the Web in 1995, been published in numerous fanzines worldwide, and been incorporated into two separate books: The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping, and The Doctor Who Error Finder by RH Langley. And all thanks to a nameless BBC stagehand who held down a cushion for a few seconds back in 1976!
If you've spotted a blooper which isn't already on the list, waltz on over to the Feedback page. Be sure to include as many of the following details as you can:
- (Obviously) The name of the Doctor Who story the blooper appears in;
- The episode number (or name) if applicable — or if you're watching a squashed-together "movie version", just tell me roughly how many minutes into the story the blooper occurs;
- A description of the scene or context in which the blooper occurs (e.g. "Just after the Doctor punches Adric...");
- Most importantly — a description of the blooper. In most cases, I won't be able to watch the story to confirm the blooper, so the more complete and accurate your description, the better.
This site is maintained by Daniel O'Malley.
Literally hundreds of people have contributed to the Bloopers List since 1993, far too many to name. I thank them all, and especially the following individuals for their particular help: Andrew McCaffrey, Shannon Sullivan (and everyone else in Special.K), Paul Cornell, Richard Kernin, Michael R. Wall and Steven Cooper. Thanks also to the readers of Gallifrey Base and to the invaluable Doctor Who Transcripts site.