Doctor Who has long had a proud history of trying to do a lot with very little money, and while gone are the days of wobbly cardboard sets and whatever the hell Erato the Creature from the Pit was, even to this day the show often has ideas much larger than a BBC budget can imagine. That might be about to change in a big way.
A new report from UK TV industry press site Broadcast claims that the BBC’s recent deal with Disney—granting the House of Mouse worldwide streaming rights to the series outside of the UK and Ireland from 2023 onwards—could see Doctor Who’s budget raise from its current approximate $1.1-3.4 million per episode to approximately $11.5 millon per episode when filming begins for the show’s 14th season, starring Ncuti Gatwa as the 15th Doctor.
Sources speaking to Broadcast allege that the budget increase is a play to bring Doctor Who to more mainstream audiences again, now that is competing in an age of lavish genre TV productions backed by powerhouses like HBO, Netflix, and Amazon. While not reaching the giddy highs of budgets for recent series like House of the Dragon (which purportedly cost around $20m per episode), Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (an eye-watering $50-80m per episode) or the fourth season of Stranger Things ($30m per episode), it marks a major financial boost for a show that has long been defined by its budgetary constraints. Further plans could also see Doctor Who re-attempt to spin off into a franchise of multiple shows, akin to returning showrunner Russell T. Davies’ previous attempts with series like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
What’s not mentioned in Broadcast’s report is if this financial injection from Disney comes with any creative control for the megastudio, as previously claimed in reports from British newspaper the Telgraph. “The BBC had to make the decision for the future success of Doctor Who because any show of scale needs a partner,” one undisclosed source told Broadcast. “Reliability is the most important factor irrespective of how many episodes you make or who the Doctor is. If you can bring in a single partner with one distribution agreement, while retaining exclusivity in the UK, that is the best of both worlds for the BBC.”
Doctor Who will return for a trio of three episodes in November 2023 to celebrate its 60th anniversary, starring David Tennant as the 14th Doctor, before returning during the holiday season and in 2024 with new star Ncuti Gatwa.
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