Friday 13 October 2023

Entire (existing) run of DOCTOR WHO to be available on BBC iPlayer

The BBC have confirmed that the entire run of iconic science fiction series Doctor Who will be available on the BBC iPlayer streaming service from the start of November.

Returning showrunner Russell T. Davies has confirmed that he leveraged the deal as part of the conditions for his return to the franchise. Previously the BBC had only made the "new" run of the show - the one starting in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and subsequently carrying on through the David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker eras - available on the iPlayer whilst keeping the "old" run (from 1963 to 1989) available on legacy media or on the BritBox paid-for streaming service.

The move will see almost 800 episodes of Doctor Who available in one location for one time. Unfortunately, it will not be the complete run of the show: 97 episodes from the first six seasons (1963-69) remain missing following the BBC's junking policy of old episodes in the 1970s. Some of these missing episodes have been reconstructed for DVD and Blu-Ray with still photographs and audio recordings (the audio for all the episodes has survived), or the use of animation and the original audio tracks. It's unclear if these reconstructions will be made available as well.

It's also unclear if the episodes will include those that have been upscaled for release on Blu-Ray in the last few years, or just the standard versions. The BBC has confirmed that it will be adding subtitles, audio description and sign language to every single episode for the first time.

As well as both eras of Doctor Who, spin-off shows Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class will also be available, along the 1996 TV movie (starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor), the various mini-episodes produced over the years, and every episode of behind-the-scenes show Doctor Who Confidential. The new service will also include some sixty new special features produced for the show's 60th Anniversary (due on 23 November), and thousands of documents and photographs, many rescanned at 8K for the first time.

So far the BBC has not confirmed if the two Doctor Who 1960s theatrical feature films - Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD - will be included.

Davies and the BBC have so far declined to confirm when three new episodes produced for the show's 60th Anniversary will air, except they will be in the month of November. David Tennant plays the Fourteenth Doctor, who has to find out why his new incarnation is identical to his Tenth. Ncuti Gatwa will take over as the Fifteenth Doctor for a Christmas Special airing in December, and then at least the next two full seasons of the show, the first to air in early 2024.

Davies has also confirmed that his plan is to produce at least nine new episodes of Doctor Who a year, with no more multi-year breaks between seasons, and there are plans for spin-off shows exploring other aspects of the setting (a new show revolving around Earth defence force UNIT is rumoured, but unconfirmed).

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