Russell T. Davies explains why Doctor Who getting Disney money is a good thing

After 60 years on our screens, the new era of Doctor Who is upon us, with a huge new budget thanks to a Disney cash injection.
The Doctor ((Ncuti Gatwa) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023.
The Doctor ((Ncuti Gatwa) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023. /

The new season of Doctor Who kicks off this month, with Ncuti Gatwa in the titular role, and a bigger budget than ever before thanks to Disney, which is footing the bill for the new season in return for airing the series on Disney+ outside the UK. No longer does the BBC have to rely on its own funds, which often means storytellers can't dream as big as they'd like. Now there are no restraints the Doctor's adventures throughout time and space.

Showrunner Russell T Davies, who oversaw the revival of the Whoniverse back in 2005, is back to help usher in a new golden age of Doctor Who. While there are many Whovians who are against Doctor Who getting the Disney treatment, believing the show will lose its British quirkiness, Davies ardently believes that this is the route the show must take if it wants to achieve longevity.

“I’ve never run out of things to say about Doctor Who—it’s 61 years old now, so no one’s ever run out of stuff. But I was a big believer in the BBC’s ambition for it,” Davies told io9. He went on to explain how the show's larger budget would've suffered under the UK's TV license fee, an annual fee all UK citizens must pay in order to view any BBC content. “[There was a desire] to increase the budget, and I don’t think it’s right to increase the budget from the BBC license fee."

Therefore, for the good of Doctor Who, partnering with a huge organization like Disney felt like a no-brainer. "So if you wantDoctor Who to have a bigger budget, it’s not right that it comes from the license fee—it is right that we go to a bigger broadcaster, a bigger platform, and go into co-production with them.”

Fears of Doctor Who losing its way under Disney are greatly exaggerated. As Davies points out, the BBC has sought help from American broadcasters for dramas for years. This isn't a new concept. “Let’s face it, there’s been no British drama made in the last 30 years that hasn’t had American money in it," he said. "This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone."

One significant change comes in the release dates. No longer will Doctor Who premiere in the UK before the rest of the world. The new series has its global premiere on Disney+ on May 10 at 7pm ET. It will air linearly on the BBC the day after.

Next. The new Doctor Who feels faster and more fantastical than before. The new Doctor Who feels faster and more fantastical than before. dark

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