For the first time since “Doctor Who” returned to the BBC five years ago, Britain’s most popular scripted program is breaking up.
The seasons, that is.
BBC will air only seven episodes of “Doctor Who” in the spring, holding off the other six until fall where it will egg on fans with a “game-changing” cliffhanger.
“Looking at the next [season], I thought what this show needs is a big event in the middle,” showrunner Steven Moffat recently told attendees of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, according to The Guardian. “I kept referring to a mid-season finale. So we are going to make it two [seasons] — seven episodes at Easter building to an Earth-shattering climax, a cliffhanger we could never normally do because it would be too long before it came back. An enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything.”
Split seasons are nothing new for genre shows, especially on Syfy where programs like “Caprica” and “Stargate: Universe” plod through split seasons. However, those shows typically run for 20 episodes, allowing a 10-episode split, while “Doctor Who” has a much smaller, odd number to deal with.
Moffat, however, says it’s not really a split sixth season.
“The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two,” he said. “We are making it two separate” seasons.
Budgets are a bit tighter in the current “Doctor Who,” but new star Matt Smith is being well received, Moffat said. Of course, the question remains, if Smith were to ever depart, would there be any consideration of a female Doctor?
“I think about it sometimes, and maybe it will happen someday,” Moffat said. “It wouldn’t have been right this time. A woman can play the part. You have to remember the single most important thing about regeneration is you must convince the audience and the children that it’s not a new man, it’s not a different man, it’s the same one. It’s a bigger ask if you turn him into a woman.”
“Doctor Who” returns this Christmas with its special involving Harry Potter’s Michael Gambon.