Two Times The Seasons, Half The Episodes: Doctor Who Regenerates Format

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When the BBC’s Doctor Who returns for its next season in 2011, things will be different. Including, apparently, how many episodes are in a season, and how many seasons fans get a year. New showrunner Steven Moffat has announced that, instead of one thirteen-episode season a year, the format is going to switch to two seasons, of seven and six episodes respectively.

Talking at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival this weekend, Moffat explained,

Looking at the next series I thought what this show needs is a big event in the middle… I kept referring to a mid-season finale. So we are going to make it two [seasons] – seven episodes at Easter building to an earth-shattering climax, a cliffhanger we could never normally do because it would be too long before it came back. An enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything. The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two. We are making it two separate [seasons]. What I love about this idea is that when kids see Doctor Who go off the air, they will be noticeably taller when it comes back. It’s an age for children. With an Easter series, an autumn series and a Christmas special, you are never going to be more than few months from the new series of Doctor Who. Tart that I am, we will now have two first nights and two finales, twice as many event episodes as we had before.

I like the idea of shorter seasons more often – I’m British, so six week runs seem second nature to me – and am curious about what this “game-changing” cliffhanger is going to turn out to be. After all, in his first year in charge, he already destroyed the TARDIS and rebooted all of reality…

Doctor Who returns in December for a Christmas Special, and then later in 2011 for a new (shorter) season.

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