Doctor Who episodes leak online – should you download them?

Doctor Who Deep Breath leakedRemember how last week it was discovered that scripts for the first five episodes of the new series of “Doctor Who” had leaked onto the internet after the BBC carelessly placed files for translation on a publicly accessible web server?

Well, in further embarrassment for the BBC, an unedited version of “Deep Breath” – the season opener of series 8 of “Doctor Who” – has also been leaked onto the internet. Six weeks ahead of its official scheduled transmission date.

In all likelihood, the video file was snaffled at the same time as the PDF scripts were grabbed, and is now beginning to show up on file torrent websites.

Up until now, although cached versions of the BBC Worldwide Miami web server clearly showed links to video files of the first two episodes, it was thought that the company had managed to shut down the site before copies had been grabbed – unlike the scripts.

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Doctor Who leak

But now it’s clear that at least the first episode has been leaked. And if it has leaked, maybe others will leak too.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that what you’ll see if you download the leaked show will be the same as watching it on television when it officially airs on August 23rd.

For one thing, it appears that the video file was only intended for internal use – it is in letterbox format only in black and white (remember that kids?) and is heavily watermarked with the name of Marcelo Camargo – the same individual whose name was emblazoned over the leaked scripts.

In addition, the leaked episode does not contain a finished title sequence or completed CGI effects.

As the following screen cap reveals, watching the episode is not going to be an entirely immersive experience because of its unedited nature.

Peter Capaldi, as seen in the leaked episode

In short, just as with reading the leaked scripts, it’s not going to be the same experience as watching the episode when it airs in August.

Not that that is likely to stop the most rabid fans – eager to see the first proper episode starring new Doctor Peter Capaldi.

A BBC spokesperson has confirmed the link to the Radio Times:

This is part of BBC Worldwide’s ongoing security investigation into leaked unfinished Doctor Who materials. This content is currently being removed and originates from the same Miami server disabled last week, it is not a new issue. We’d like to thank the amazing Doctor Who fans who are continuing to keep fansites and social media spoiler-free.

Unfortunately this is far from the first time that the “Doctor Who” production team have had their work leaked onto the internet before it is ready for public airing. For instance, after many so-called “wilderness years” off TV screens, the very first episode of the show’s high profile return in 2005 was also leaked onto torrent sites pre-transmission.

No doubt there are thousands of Doctor Who fans right now, scouring the internet for torrent links for the “Deep Breath” episode – as their fanatical fan gene kicks in.

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

After all, if I were a cybercriminal, and knew that internet users were desperately trying to find it, wouldn’t it be tempting to upload something claiming to be Doctor Who’s “Deep Breath” episode, but actually containing a malicious Trojan horse instead?

Or maybe I’d use it as a chance to install adware and revenue generating browser plugins onto the computers of fans who feverishly want to download the file rather than consider what they might be agreeing to.

It’s clearly better to wait until the next series of “Doctor Who” returns at the end of August than spoil the surprise or indeed the security of your computer.

In the meantime, if you are hungry for something Time Lord-related, here is the officially-released trailer for the new series of “Doctor Who”.

The official full length TV launch trailer - Doctor Who Series 8 2014 - BBC One

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

8 comments on “Doctor Who episodes leak online – should you download them?”

  1. drsolly

    I'm guessing they don't have a dog-on-wheels.

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to drsolly

      Affirmative, Doctor.

  2. nox

    "reckless downloading of torrents could also expose your computer to malware and other threats."

    Sounds like: "Driving is bad for your safety" or "Email expose your computer to malware and other threats."

    Bullsh*t. It's not about illegal download,it's about illegal UPLOAD.

  3. Thomas Gladwell

    not having much luck with leaks are they? I fully support the guys and won't watch the episode nor shall I read the scripts… cannot wait to see the ACTUAL episodes

  4. Andore Jr.

    Wow, a trojan horse inserted into a movie file!

    That is one of the greatest technical achievements I've ever heard of!

    Principally because it is impossible.

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to Andore Jr.

      That's not really what I am talking about (although there have been vulnerabilities in media file formats before).

      The risk is that people might do stupid things if they think they're going to download a hotly-anticipated movie or TV show at the end of it. For instance, they may agree to install software on their computer (install this codec to watch the file), or not read the small print about what changes will be made to their browser, or not realise that a file called Deep_Breath.MP4.exe is actually executable etc etc.

      People who are not security conscious, or unfamiliar with downloading torrents, might download something they believe to be the leaked episodes – and get a shock as big as the cliffhanger at the end of Episode 3 of The Deadly Assassin.

  5. Mark Lewing

    Fancy squeezing a Doctor Who related story onto a Security website. Of all things……

  6. Chris Thomas

    I would but only if William Hartnell is cast as Dr Who.

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