Doctor Who “Name of the Doctor” finale may have leaked early, but you really shouldn’t download it


Blu-ray diskImagine if you knew that thousands of hardcore sci-fi fans were chomping at the bit to see the season finale of a hit TV show, especially if it had been promoted as an episode that would include secret revelations that viewers had been teased about for months.

Imagine if, by accident, some people had been sent a Blu-Ray boxset of the TV show’s episodes *before* the final episode had been broadcast.

Do you think fans would be able to wait a few days for the episode to be properly broadcast on their TV stations, or would they go hunting peer-to-peer file-sharing sites hoping to find a downloadable (and pirated) copy of the episode?

Well, that’s precisely what seems to be happening with “Doctor Who”, the BBC’s long-running science-fiction show, which stars Matt Smith and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.

Tweets by Doctor Who fans

The season finale episode, “The Name of the Doctor”, is due to be broadcast on Saturday 18th May in the United Kingdom and USA. But, due to some colossal screw-up, BBC America has managed to send copies out early to some fans who pre-ordered the Blu-Ray boxset.

Some have even taken photographic proof that they’re watching it!

The Name of the Doctor, being watched on someone's TV

No doubt there are thousands of Doctor Who fans right now, scouring the internet for torrent links for the episode - as their fanatical fan gene doesn’t allow for them to wait until next weekend.

Aside from the morality of pirating a TV programme and ruining the surprises carefully planned by the Doctor Who production team in Cardiff, reckless downloading of torrents could also expose your computer to malware.

After all, if I were a cybercriminal, and heard that internet users were feverishly trying to find a particular movie - wouldn’t it be tempting to upload something claiming to be Doctor Who’s hotly-anticipated “Name of the Doctor” episode, but actually containing a malicious Trojan horse instead?

Maybe it’s better to wait until the TV programme is properly broadcast, rather than seeking out an early copy. And, if you are a fan, avoid social media sites and Doctor Who messageboards for a few days where someone who has seen the episode might try to ruin your enjoyment.

Certainly Doctor Who brand manager Edward Russell would prefer it if everyone resisted the temptation.

To remain legal, and to maintain the best health for your computer, it’s probably better to wait for the programme to air at its planned date and time on television rather than grab it early via a torrent site.

Update: Mischief-makers on Twitter have been posting messages pointing to what they claim to be a downloadable torrent of “The Name of the Doctor”.

In reality, the file you end up downloading is called GNFOS.MP4. I’m reliably informed that the filename might relate to a film released in 1992 called “Gay N****rs from Outer Space”. Not exactly Doctor Who…

Images of Blu-Ray disc and “The Name of the Doctor” playing on TV courtesy of the Untempered Schism blog.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Share this article:

   Join thousands of others and sign up to our free "GCHQ" newsletter.

Smashing Security podcast
Check out "Smashing Security", the award-winning weekly audio podcast, with Graham Cluley, Carole Theriault, and special guests from the world of information security.

"It's brilliant!" • "Three people having fun in an industry often focused on bad news" • Winner of the Best Security Podcast 2018

Latest episodes:
Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Podcasts

, , , , , , ,

32 Responses

  1. Conor

    May 12, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    While half of me agrees that we should be patient, the other half seems to be blind ignorance. To those who do tend to use torrent sites, and with any kind of computer literacy will know what to download and what not to. It’s not a case of having your computer piled full of nasties. It’s a case of finding the safe torrent the community is recommending and using that.

    • Luke Henderson in reply to Conor.

      May 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Exactly my thoughts on the matter. I also don’t feel that there is really anything immoral in downloading a show that is broadcast for FREE.

      • Jeremy Visser in reply to Luke Henderson.

        May 12, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

        I’m guessing you don’t live in a country where you either (a) pay taxes, (b) pay a TV licence, or © pay a cable/satellite TV subscription fee. The rest of us, however, do.

        • DemonPhoenix42 in reply to Jeremy Visser.

          May 13, 2013 at 2:14 am #

          im sorry your a stupid w**ker then

          • Grammar Nazi in reply to DemonPhoenix42.

            May 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm #


        • Digital_Utopia in reply to Jeremy Visser.

          May 15, 2013 at 3:15 am #

          Regardless if they do, or not - does it matter? Whether you’re paying $20 a month for basic cable, or $100 for all the bells and whistles, you’re still going to be paying that regardless of whether you watch the episode now, watch it saturday afternoon in the U.S. (when it’s aired in the U.K.) or watch it saturday evening.

        • C.F. in reply to Jeremy Visser.

          May 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

          Look dude, I have cable, and they took away my BBC America. I think I have every right to torrent episodes. I tried to give them my money through a cable service and they refused.

  2. Jon

    May 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm #


  3. Piet

    May 12, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

    I’d wish I could say I wont go hunting for it, but Doctor Who doesn’t air In my country and my only way of watching it somewhat up to date is be illegal means, I’m certainly not proud of it but I just love this show so much I just cannot wait.

    • Graham Cluley in reply to Piet.

      May 12, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      You are clearly living in the wrong country.

      Priorities, man!

      • Prim in reply to Graham Cluley.

        May 18, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

        PRIORITIES?!? so what to be able to watch Doctor Who we have to move? I don’t think my parents would like that very much. Our only way to watch it is by torrents. What else are we gonna do? It’s not my fault I was born and living in a developing country.

    • Prim in reply to Piet.

      May 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      The same for me it’s really not fair and I don’t think my parents will let us move only to watch a tv-series. When you find it please tell me.

  4. Fringe Bright

    May 12, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

    As a Doctor Who fan of the time-travel genre, why would anyone think waiting is considered “proper?” I’ll see the episode when I see it; if I happen to see it early, it’s not a spoiler because I would be seeing it early; negating the necessity to see it later. Air-time is an artificial scheduling system if the production of the episode is already finished.

    That said, accidentally reading spoilers before getting a chance to watch the episode is something to be concerned about; we should either stop reading DW blogs for a week, or find a way to download it if/when it actually gets leaked.

    I wouldn’t criticize people for “improperly” watching something outside of an artificial scheduling system based on the speculation that some people may or may not know how to determine what is and isn’t infected with malware.

    Learning how to discern what might be malware is the more important message; people will download malware copies claiming to be leaks regardless of your warning because we’re all amateur time lords in the making :P

  5. Ian William James Findlay

    May 13, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    I really dont want to read what happens on the way to work on a bus. I would much rather watch it now than read it but no luck finding a download link.

    Watch it now and its not spoiled… Wait until Saturday and kill who spoils it? Fair right lol

  6. L2Internet

    May 13, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    Waiting for release? PSH, a true fan wants to know what happens next right away! Screw waiting. I’m an IT major, so I’ll take my chances.

  7. John Patrick Vincent

    May 13, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    So the ageing hipster of a brand manager waded into this SNAFU…now there’s a surprise. Whether I see it early, on the day or on the Sunday it is immaterial. I have paid my licence fee I will watch it when I want. Also citing malware as a potential risk was incredibly patronising the majority of people out there are aware of it.…and know how to avoid it these days. It’s not exactly alchemy or some other lost art.

  8. Bradley Conder

    May 13, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Well apparently it was released on Saturday morning and it still hasn’t gone online yet. The internet has failed us.

    • John G (@madhi19) in reply to Bradley Conder.

      May 17, 2013 at 3:56 am #

      I call BS on the whole deal no way in hell that we don’t have at least a few torrent. After almost a week. Either the mess up was very small or it just a lame hoax.

  9. Tim Collins

    May 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    This entire thing was a hoax anyway. Possibly by the BBC to make it appear that Doctor Who has some loyal fans that doesn’t post spoilers on the Internet which is 99% impossible. If this is legit then it was handled poorly and the BBC production staff should learn from their mistake not try to attempt a recall of the Internet which is once again impossible. Spoilers are nothing more but rumors, speculation, and trolls until the episode airs on the airways. Half of which probably stem from trolls anyway.

  10. ExcitedRhubarb

    May 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Moffat should get Alex Kingston to front the camera to explain to fans to “Shhh…spoilers” then maybe they will.

  11. Jon

    May 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    IF it is out there, it will be posted. I’m guessing the blu rays were mailed and the first will arrive in today’s post - IF the story is true, and not the BBC trying to make news for something Doctor Who related other than screwing up the 50th so badly.

    • Graham Cluley in reply to Jon.

      May 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

      What we don’t know is *how* *many* were mailed out. If only a small number leaked out then it might reduce the chances that any of the recipients might a) want to share the episode, and b) know *how* to share the episode…

      • Fringe Bright in reply to Graham Cluley.

        May 17, 2013 at 6:18 am #

        Exactly what I was speculating; also BBC claims that, if everyone keeps the secrets safe until next Saturday, they will release a special new clip featuring the 10th and 11th doctor. They’ll probably release it anyway, but one more reason a publicly leaked copy likely won’t happen:

  12. Dominic

    May 14, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    The story is fake. If there was a link it would be online by this time. In a few days the BBC is going to come out and say “Wow, Look at what loyal fans we have!”

    • Graham Cluley in reply to Dominic.

      May 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Yes, and Sydney Newman was on the grassy knoll in November 1963 as the Kennedy cavalcade drove past…

  13. James W

    May 14, 2013 at 5:44 am #

    If I want to download Doctor Who, or indeed anything else, I will. Please don’t try and scaremonger, stating malware as a reason not to download. That sort of rubbish may have worked ten years ago, but not these days. I have been downloading torrents for years, and not once had anything remotely harmful. It’s knowing where. Self righteous idiots are always spouting off about downloading, but those same people are usually the worst culprits.

    • Graham Cluley in reply to James W.

      May 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      Glad to hear that you’ve never encountered malicious content when downloading torrents - but that’s not to say that others haven’t had as good an experience, or that there haven’t been cybercriminals who have taken advantage of the lure of pirated software and movies in the past.

      Just be careful folks. That’s what I’m saying.. :)

  14. Gan

    May 15, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    Just remember that if it does get online, it was only a few people who actually received and not only BBC will be very cross because of copyright infringement but also it was only a few 50 or so people who received the CD early so it won’t take long to knock at there door and go “Oi.”

  15. Bobby

    May 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    torrents and viruses? Only after you download it. And only if you have crap anti-virus software. There’s no way to get a virus just from the process of downloading. Get real people.

    • Graham Cluley in reply to Bobby.

      May 15, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      Approx 100,000 new pieces of malware are discovered every day. And no anti-virus is perfect

      Sometimes it’s best to be cautious.

  16. me

    May 18, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    The only way someone will get infected is if they do not do due diligence. You have to be foolish enough to not just download a torrent with a malicious file in it, but to actually click on the malicious file and run it. Anyone worth their salt will know to look at the file type etc.. before running the file.

  17. mason Reaves

    November 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    i downloaded a episode called name of the Doctor.……it was quite interesting.…..espelly the ending

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.