The 45-second “Next time…” trailers have become one of the new Doctor Who‘s most important elements. In a season of mostly self-contained stories they serve the role a cliffhanger played in the past, making sure the audience tune in next week. Initially they drew a certain amount of fan ire for spoiling plot elements, but as the new series has settled down the trailers have too, getting the balance between teasing and revealing mostly right.

Inevitably, fannish creativity has turned its attention to the trailers. There is a thriving mini-genre on YouTube of new-style trailer edits done for old-series stories. I encountered these at the weekend and spent a happy hour or so watching a load of them. I’m not normally keen on fan videos as most of them tend to dwell on the aspects of the series I don’t think need extra emphasis – the Doctor/companion relationship, or the emotional elements. These appealed because they promised new-school discipline applied to old-school storytelling, and because they necessarily focus on what makes a story thrilling.

Well, they ought to, at least. Watching the fan trailers gives you an appreciation of the work the ‘real’ trailer makers do, and the mistakes they avoid. The best trailers have a quick establishing moment, some cuts of action scenes, dialogue that suggests threat or crisis and a couple of other juicy lines or moments, saving the most dramatic or mysterious moment for last while giving away none of the resolution. The most effective fan trailers tend to stick to this formula too – others make telltale mistakes. They might include a particular favourite line of dialogue which is just too long for the trailer, or which presents the monsters or threats as ineffective. They might show too much of the resolution or closing scenes. They might simply not make the edit fast or exciting enough (and who can blame them really, the more edits you make, the more time-consuming the whole thing is).

Here’s a selection:

Dalek Invasion of Earth (typical of the form)

Kinda (note major strategic error at end)

Curse Of Fenric (quite effective in making me keen to watch a story I have no affection for)

The Web Planet (a big ask to make this gentle, enigmatic story exciting!)