Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Sunday ain't what it used to be. Two days ago the BBC and Steven Moffat announced that the transmission of the next series of Doctor Who, in 2011, will be split into two blocks of episodes, transmitting in spring and autumn.

Speaking at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Doctor Who supremo Steven Moffat announced that next year's 13-part series will run for seven episodes at Easter "building to an earth-shattering climax" at Episode 7, an "enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything". And then return in the autumn for another six. « Looking at the next series I thought what this show needs is a big event in the middle, » said Moffat.

« The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two. We are making it two separate series, » as he explained, referring to the second block as supposedly "series seven". Steven Moffat regenerated Doctor Who in a spirit of invention and tradition with an overall entertaining fifth series which revealed the talent of Matt Smith. But also shown blatantly the weight of budget constraints and some signs of fatigue for the mandatory story arc stretched over 13 episodes.

In June we wrote: « Perhaps Doctor Who should consider a return to the serial formula and drop the contrived high concept story arcs. » And following the unconvincing and deliberately partial "crack" arc resolution - indicating a continuation with series six - we asked if Moffat would have a budget decent enough to fulfill his narrative ambitions past the lavish Christmas 2010 special. « Budget cuts are tough: I don't like them, but they force you to be creative, » as he told BBC News in April.

Steven Moffat considers that thirteen episodes of Doctor Who are, by the standards of any other drama series, "two series' worth". We'll see how the split affects a budget arbitration already delicate in a context of cuts for BBC dramas. And of course, while Steven Moffat is committed to Doctor Who for nine months of the year, three new 90-minute episodes of Sherlock - his other BBC hit - have been commissioned.

Doctor Who remains one of the biggest money maker brands of BBC Worldwide, sold to more than 50 territories. Preparation work for the French-speaking dubbing of series five has started this month.


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