Doctor Who, the BBC’s flagship science-fiction TV show, is moving to Disney+ in 2023. The world’s longest-running sci-fi TV series, Doctor Who stood at the center of the BBC’s recent centenary celebrations. Next year will see the show celebrate another milestone, its own 60th anniversary, with the return of past stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate in a series of specials. These will lead straight into a new series in which Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa takes over as the Fifteenth Doctor.
Doctor Who is reinventing itself in 2023, with the BBC entering into a co-production deal with Bad Wolf, a production firm based in Wales that is now owned by Sony. This has seen the BBC surrender creative control on the show, with Bad Wolf taking charge of the creative direction and production; the BBC retain international sales, merchandise and other ancillary matters. In truth, such an agreement was essential to secure the show’s future, because the BBC want Doctor Who to compete with the likes of Disney+’s Marvel and Star Wars TV shows in scale and style. The days of rubber monsters and wobbling sets will be consigned to the past.
In another major development, Deadline is now reporting that new Doctor Who specials and seasons are actually moving to Disney+ for international distribution. « It is the best of both worlds, » returning showrunner Russell T. Davies observed. « The vision and joy of the BBC and Disney+ together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the UK. »
Previous seasons of Doctor Who have been distributed on BBC America, and according to the BBC’s last annual report, Doctor Who: Flux was the network’s biggest hit in the 2021-2022 financial year. Still, Doctor Who’s move to Disney+ – which has been rumored since July – means the show is moving to one of the world’s most successful and high-profile streaming services. Far from competing with the likes of the MCU and Star Wars, Doctor Who will stand alongside them.
It’s interesting to note that Deadline’s report only discusses the 2023 specials and future seasons, but includes the new logo – one that deliberately evokes memories of the classic series. This perhaps hints the next era of Doctor Who will be rather more unified; in that case, it’s possible the show’s 60-year back catalog will be moving to Disney+ as well. It’s certainly an exciting prospect to imagine the existing episodes in one place, hopefully accompanied by spinoffs Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Class too. This would be the perfect way to celebrate Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, and it would truly make Disney+ the home of Doctor Who.