Doctor Who showrunner thinks the BBC is going to end, but not Doctor Who

Doctor Who had to partner with Disney+ for its new season. Showrunner Russell T Davies thinks that's partly to prepare for the day when the BBC is no more.
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in Doctor Who.
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in Doctor Who. /

The BBC first started airing episodes of Doctor Who back in the 1960s, and the sci-fi show has been a staple of the network ever since. But times are changing, and the upcoming fourteenth season of the show, which stars Ncuti Gatwa as the Fourteenth Doctor, is being coproduced by Disney.

This comes with some big advantages, namely a lot more cash they can use to make the show look shiny and spiffy. But there have been complications. For instance, the first episode of the new season will drop on Disney+ in most parts of the world on Friday, May 10 at 7:00 p.m. EST. However, it won't air linearly on the BBC until Saturday, May 11. For the first time in its 60-year history, the British won't be the first people in the world who get to watch what is quite possibly the most British TV show ever made, which has ruffled some feathers in the UK.

However, showrunner Russell T Davies — who revived Doctor Who on the BBC back in 2005 and is now back in the driver's seat for season 14 and beyond — thinks that embracing change is necessary if Doctor Who is going to continue. “I had already said in interviews that I think Doctor Who will have to become a [co-production], there’s no way the BBC is going to fund that,” he said on the They Like To Watch podcast. “You’ve also got to look in the long term at the end of the BBC, which is somehow, surely, undoubtedly on its way in some shape or form. What is Doctor Who going to do then? You have to prepare for that.”

It's true that the BBC has never had the deep pockets of an entertainment giant like Disney. Perhaps Davies thinks that if Doctor Who is going to compete in a media environment where genre TV shows are getting increasingly expensive — shows like House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power basically cost as much or more as high-end movies these days — it will need to find more money, and it's not going to find it at the BBC.

That part makes sense to me. It's a little more alarming to hear him talk about the BBC being on the way out, since it's part of the television landscape for so many decades. Maybe he's alarmed by the studio's embrace of artificial intelligence, or maybe he just sees this coming and knows when to adapt. As the guy behind shows like It’s a Sin and Years and Years, Davies has consistently demonstrated that he knows how to maneuver in this business, so I'm inclined to put some stock in his predictions.

While we contemplate the end of this TV titan, we can enjoy the new season of Doctor Who next month.

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h/t Deadline