OldVenue, TV

Rise of the Fandoms

The majority of people in Britain, and sometimes it seems the world, knows about the BBC TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and most of those people know that the fan following behind the show is astronomical. What is less well known is that the original Sherlock Holmes fans, way back in the late 19th Century, were the very first modern fandom. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his wildly popular detective  (spoilers – he survived) in order to focus on his historical work, the readers of the Strand magazine in which the story was published took to the streets wearing black armbands to symbolise their mourning. Conan Doyle received hundreds of letters begging for Holmes to return. After ten years – and a massive publishing deal – they got their wish. Even some high-profile writers such as Mark Twain took the chance to write Sherlock Holmes fanfiction. Today, fandom levels have exploded. While it used to be only small dramas that had a devoted fan following, the Internet has revealed there is a fandom for almost every TV show from Big School to The X Factor.

People can now actually watch a popular show almost instantly if they miss it. There are hundreds of TV channels, repeats, DVDs, Netflix and equivalents, catch-up, and even illegal downloads (which I am not condoning, by the way). You don’t have to wait a year to watch the series of Atlantis you missed, or go to America to see Supernatural. The more times it’s played, the more people can see it, and the potential fandom gets bigger and bigger. Incidentally, the Internet itself means that audience response to a show can be instantly gauged before, during and after its slot time. The BBC has recently taken full advantage of this by posting relevant memes and facts seconds after the episode is shown on TV. Want to find out if others agree with your opinion on the Doctor Who finale? There are infinite numbers of polls, reviews and comments online. Not only that, but you can also find others out there who agree with any theory you have, regardless of where you live. Saying you are part of a fandom these days is common – it no longer means you are part of this hidden group of nerds staring at a computer screen fantasizing about Spock and Kirk getting married. Well, you might, but at least if you did then you’re not in the minority, everyone has at least one TV show that they absolutely love. Embrace your inner fandom-ness and enjoy the show!


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December 2021
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