Scripts for five episodes of the upcoming series of BBC's "Doctor Who" TV show have leaked online, weeks before they are due to air, sending feverish fans into a frenzy.
If you're not aware, "Doctor Who" is a very popular TV programme in the UK and it's getting rather popular in the United States and other countries too... and its fans are, well, fanatical.
So, probably the very last thing you should do is leave five of the scripts lying around on a public web server that can be indexed by search engines.
And yet, that's exactly what someone did.
It appears that the scripts became accessible to anyone with a web browser after being sent to the BBC's new Latin American headquarters for translation. Ironically, the programme is translated in advance of its English language transmission in order to make it possible to transmit the show in as many countries as possible on the same day... to try to avoid piracy and fans downloading the latest episode from torrent sites.
Although the scripts have now been removed from the BBC Miami web server, the cat is out of the bag - and you don't have to be a master of the Celestial Toymaker's trilogic game to find them elsewhere online...
The scripts, which include season eight opener "Deep Breath" which will see the official debut story of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, should - of course - have been under tight lock-and-key, especially following earlier security breaches involving the show.
These have included:
- the much hyped 2005 comeback episode, starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper, leaking onto torrent sites before its official transmission, after a staffer at a Canadian TV station got a little too free and liberal.
- a rehearsal script for a "Doctor Who" episode by Neil Gaiman being left in the back of a taxi.
- American fans being sent a Blu-Ray boxset of last year's series - *before* its jaw-dropping "Name of the Doctor" series finale, leading up to the show's 50th Anniversary special, had been broadcast.
Such leaks, and the fanaticism of some "Doctor Who" fans, has meant that secrecy is an essential element of the show's production - with each script watermarked with it's owner's name to track down who could have leaked copies, either deliberately or accidentally.
One presumes that Steven Moffat and the rest of Doctor Who's production team in Cardiff is fuming at this latest screw-up, and the BBC has issued a statement urging fans to not ruin the fun by reading the scripts in advance:
BBC Worldwide is currently investigating a security issue around Doctor Who Series 8 where unfinished material has inadvertently been made public. We deeply regret this and apologise to all the show's fans, the BBC and the cast and crew who have worked tirelessly making the series.
We would like to make a plea to anyone who might have any of this material and spoilers associated with it not to share it with a wider audience so that everyone can enjoy the show as it should be seen when it launches. We know only too well that Doctor Who fans are the best in the world and we thank them for their help with this and their continued loyalty.
I have made no secret of the fact that I've been a fan of "Doctor Who" since the early 1970s, and I'm as excited as a Taran Wood Beast about the prospect of Peter Capaldi taking over the reins of the TARDIS...
... but I do wonder what on earth is going on at the BBC if they continue to fail to keep one of the corporation's Crown jewels properly protected from barking mad fans like me.
Doctor Who returns to TV screens on August 23rd.