The last time Doctor Who was on our screens, it was Christmas 2015, when the Doctor shared the screen with his wife, River Song. The annual Christmas Special aired after the conclusion of season nine, which saw the departure of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. Since then, audiences have been introduced to the newest companion, Bill, played by Pearl Mackie, in the form of a short clip, and we've also learned that showrunner Steven Moffat will step down at the end of season ten, to make way for current Doctor Who writer, Chris Chibnall, to take over.
When Moffat's departure was announced, it was also mentioned that season ten would not arrive in fall of this year (as had been expected), but instead the show would take a break, delivering the annual Christmas Special at the end of 2016, followed by season ten sometime in 2017. The news was something of a disappointment to fans, who have come to expect a new season of the show each year, and with no exact air date given, it seemed as though it could be nearly two years between the end of season nine and the start of ten.
However, it looks as though we could see the arrival of season ten sooner than we thought, if the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, is to be believed. In a video that was posted online to Twitter, Capaldi can be heard talking with fans during a break in filming. When asked when the new Doctor Who season could be expected, Capaldi- dressed in period costume-replies "We'll be on at Christmas and then it starts again in April, I believe."
You can watch the video and see for yourself (make that, hear for yourself), below:
— Lucy Crewe (@CreativeCatFX) September 6, 2016
While it had previously been rumored that season ten would air in the spring and not in fall as usual, the news had not been confirmed thus far. Of course, Capaldi's comments are not a confirmation either, but he's more likely than most to know when Doctor Who will return to our screens. The BBC will not have set its scheduling that far ahead yet, so any official confirmation from the channel is still some way off, but it's good to know the wait likely won't be as long as we had feared. If season ten does arrive in April, that will be the first time the show has changed its air date since season six, which aired in April 2011.
It's possible that the spring air date could give a boost to viewing figures, which have been in steady decline since the days when Matt Smith was at the helm of the TARDIS. Spring gives less competition in the U.K. from other popular shows on other channels, such as the X Factor; and while Britain's Got Talent is usually airing around that time, that show usually ends in early May - giving Doctor Who plenty of time to capture an audience.
However... the other side of that argument is that, come spring, the weather is better and more people are out and about on a Saturday evening - when Doctor Who traditionally airs - meaning viewers are perhaps less likely to tune in. But, with more people than ever watching TV shows via catch-up services, it seems safe to assume that true Doctor Who fans will find some way of catching season ten, regardless of when it airs.
Doctor Who will return to BBC 1 and BBC America for the 2016 Christmas special. The exact 2017 air date for season 10 has yet to be confirmed.