With the end of Doctor Who season 11 looming for fans everywhere (the New Year’s special episode notwithstanding), the BBC surprised many by announcing the series won’t return for season 12 until 2020. So far, Jodie Whittaker and new showrunner Chris Chibnall’s take on the Doctor has yielded the long-running sci-fi series strong ratings and plenty of critical praise, but that success apparently isn’t enough for star, showrunner, or broadcaster to hastily put the show back into production for its twelfth season, leaving audiences with a TARDIS-sized hole in their viewing schedules for the coming year.
The decision is certainly not without precedent, as the gap between Doctor Who seasons 10 and 11 (again, holiday specials notwithstanding) was one of the lengthiest in the show’s recent history. That gap can likely be attributed to the complicated process of bringing in an entirely new creative staff, with the aforementioned Chibnall replacing longtime series showrunner Steven Moffat, and Whittaker stepping into the role (and making history in the process) to replace Peter Capaldi. What exactly is the reason for the year-long gap between seasons 11 and 12, well, that’s another matter altogether, and one that the BBC hasn’t managed to touch on yet.
The broadcaster did make the series’ planned return date official earlier today, however, by taking to Twitter to deliver the news. In addition to the 2020 return date, the BBC also confirmed the news most people already knew, which was that Whittaker will be back for another go-round in the TARDIS, as will her companions. Check out the official tweet below:
Despite an erroneous speculative report to the contrary, Chibnall will be returning as well. As was reported by The Independent, Chibnall is already at work on season 12 of the series, saying:
“We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped. As Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the 13th Doctor.”
Although there were no specific reasons why the show will take a year off, it’s likely the production needed more time to prepare and maintain the goodwill the series has garnered so far with season 11. In the is era of Peak TV, it’s not uncommon for broadcasters, networks, or streaming services to grant lengthier hiatuses to their series, especially their most successful ones. That has certainly been the case with the biggest show of them all, Game of Thrones, as it prepares for its final season (and upcoming spinoff), but it’s also been the case with a variety of different programs, suggesting that perhaps even the production schedule of Doctor Who is changing with the times.
Doctor Who season 12 is expected in the early part of 2020 on BBC and BBC America.