While rumors still swirl that BBC is clamping down on some of the costs of “Doctor Who,” showrunner Steven Moffat has confirmed that fans will only get six episodes of “Doctor Who” in 2012 — one of them being the Christmas episode.
It’s the fewest number of “Who” episodes to be aired since 2009 when BBC decided to forego a regular season of “Doctor Who” and air just three specials instead.
Such a split had been rumored for some time, and when BBC announced that the new seventh season wouldn’t air until the fall (instead of the spring has had been traditionally done), such rumors really gained momentum.
Moffat, however, isn’t speculating on what’s happening to the show.
“I don’t know, on this occasion, that the thinking particularly came from me, actually,” Moffat recently told Digital Spy. “I’ve always been open to anything that shakes [the series] up. I think that decision actually came from the BBC.”
So that really leaves out a creative decision as had been suggested last year when the BBC split “Doctor Who’s” sixth season into two. That allowed the first half to air in spring and the second half in the fall.
“I’ve been well up for anything that we can do to shake up the transmission pattern, the way we deliver it to the audience and how long we amok the audience wait, simply because that makes ‘Doctor Who’ an event piece.”
Right now, “Doctor Who” will air just five episodes in the fall, leading up to the Christmas special where new companion Jenna-Louise Chapman will be introduced. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, who played companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams, will depart from the series just before, in the fifth episode, tentatively titled “Bye-Bye, Pond,” which is set (and filmed) in New York.
Rumors are that the episode will involve the Weeping Angels first introduced in “Blink” in Season 3.
Moffat likes the fact that audiences have to wait for “Doctor Who,” however, because it creates an effect he says is similar to what happened with “Sherlock” in Season 2. With just a small group of extra-long episodes, the series Moffat developed with Mark Gatiss that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, ended its first season just when everyone thought it was getting started.
By the time “Sherlock” returned a year later, it moved from being something that few were aware of, to making the series a “rock star.”
“So keeping ‘Doctor Who’ as an event, and never making people feel, ‘Oh, it’s lovely, reliable old ‘Doctor Who’ — it’ll be on about this time, at that time of year,'” Moffat said. “Once you start to do that, just slowly, it becomes like any much-loved ornament in your house — ultimately invisible. And I don’t want that to ever be the case.”
And just in case you were wondering if BBC was planning something special for “Doctor Who’s” 50th anniversary in 2013 … the answer is yes.
“I had a meeting about that earlier in the week,” Moffat revealed.
“Doctor Who” Season 7 premieres in the fall.