Good news: in spite of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, production has begun on the next season of Doctor Who, to air sometime in 2021. Bad news: said pandemic means that instead of 11 episodes of Doctor Who, we’ll be getting only eight.
Announcing the start of production on the official Doctor Who website yesterday, showrunner Chris Chibnall confirmed that every guideline and precaution to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus is being followed on set. But he also confirmed that the extra production time it will take to film Doctor Who under those circumstances means that there won’t be enough time to finish a full series.
“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production. We’re thrilled to be back making the show,” Chibnall said in a provided statement. “Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous COVID working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11. But rest assured, the ambition, humour, fun, and scares you expect from Doctor Who will all still be firmly in place. For everyone around the world, this is a challenging period — but the Doctor never shirks from a challenge!”
Presumably, the alternative would’ve meant of delaying the season later into 2021 — maybe even skipping a year entirely — which in turn would have impacted the flow of future seasons. But given that Doctor Who’s seasons have slowly shrunk over the last few years anyway, going down from a run of 13 to the aforementioned 11, it’s still going to sting to see even less of the Doctor than we’d typically get.
The Thirteenth Doctor is back filming! ????
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho) November 11, 2020
Maybe, as our favourite Time Lord has been at points throughout this strange moment in time we find ourselves, there will be opportunities to experience new Doctor Who stories beyond the TV screen next year as well. Doctor Who returns to BBC One and BBC America later this year with the festive special, Revolution of the Daleks.