Rumour: Doctor Who To Revamp Episode Run Time & Series Length

Rumours indicate that new showrunner Chris Chibnall will switch up the Doctor Who formula by decreasing the number of episodes per year but extending the running time of each from 45 minutes to an hour.

As a result, Jodie Whttaker’s first season on board the TARDIS will only be ten episodes long rather than the usual twelve or thirteen.

According to The Mirror (so employee your own salt measuring unit) Chibnall has also ordered a redesign of the TARDIS (cue hilarious ‘She’ll paint it pink’ yuks), a brand-new console, and an update to the Sonic Screwdriver for his first season in charge. Which is to be expected considering Moffat made the same changes when he took over the show from previous showrunner Russell T. Davies.

Quoting a shadowy insider, The Mirror said:

“It is traditional for new showrunners to come in and shake things up to stamp their mark on the show and Chris is not doing things by halves.

“Expect something fresh and brilliant, with more of the stories travelling backwards in time, to interesting historical eras, as well as forwards.”

Which to be fair, doesn’t at all sound that revolutionary. Hasn’t the show always done that? Although the lack of a contemporary focus is interesting perhaps we’ll get companions from across space and time and spend less time establishing the Doctor’s place on Earth.

As for the lack of episodes, When Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith played the Doctor, each series lasted for 13 episodes plus a Christmas special. This fell to 12 plus a special when Peter Capaldi took on the role – and that doesn’t account for the long delays between series which have harmed the show. Here’s hoping this new run of ten will be a consistent run; with a fixed air date and time each year.

However, that’s the future. Before we usher in the new we must say goodbye to the old when Peter Capaldi departs the show – alongside showrunner Steven Moffat – on Christmas Day in Twice Upon a Time, which, of course will also be our first introduction to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

A release date for the upcoming series remains unknown.

  • Gruff

    At last…
    I wondered when TDC would report on this.
    Essentially this would be an extra 15 minutes (hopefully these figures exclude Xmas) over Series 1-7 and a full hour over 8-10. Really looking forward to seeing Jodie’s take on our favourite Gallifreyan. Extremely excited to see 1 and 12 at Christmas too though.

    • Philip

      Hey Gruff. We’ve been in a tricky position, because this rumour has been circulating for *months* now – but suddenly, the Mirror decided to report it, followed by lots of other Who news outlets, so we weren’t sure whether to break cover. Otherwise, what would be the point in us keeping this quiet for so long, only to report it because the Mirror did? Then again, this does provide an interesting talking point, so figured it’d be shooting ourselves in the foot to keep quiet any longer.

      • DonnaM

        It must be a difficult one, given the number of rumours swirling around the show at the moment!

      • Christian Cawley

        Why not have an “always updated” rumour roundup?

  • Rick714

    Reduce, reduce, reduce. Fewer eps, longer wait in between series, blah blah blah. Less and less DW. This saddens me. Yeah, maybe it works out to 15 minutes more but every year, we usually had at least one or two eps that were an hour or so, so I think we’ll end up with less.

  • Christian Cawley

    I’m sure BBC America (and all of those other commercial channels with BBC Worldwide contracts) are *thrilled* at the prospect of fitting a show they’ve paid good money for into a 72 minute slot they don’t have.

    Absolutely nothing in this “new era” inspires confidence.

    • Rick714

      BBCA won’t have the slightest problem with it. They need content and DW is ever more one of the most popular shows they’ve got. They run entire days filled with old Star trek marathons, so putting aside a 90 minute slot is no big deal. They do it every time there’s a longer than average ep now, Christmas special, etc. so there’s no worries there. *Side note: tried to email you but I only have your old K address.

      • Christian Cawley

        Hey Rick – christian at

  • Liam

    Hope this is true, sounds brilliant. Hopefully this means we can get more ‘complete’ stories within a single episode. I can think of a few episode that could use an extra 15 mins. Also, 10 is just a good number of episodes to have in a series (11 with Christmas).

    • reTARDISed

      Or do they wish to avoid 13 episodes a year for the 13th Doctor?…

  • DonnaM

    10 hour-long or 12 45-minutes, it doesn’t really matter to me as long as it’s good. However…

    As a history nut I should be elated about “more stories set in the past”. Yet my heart sinks in terror of an ongoing “battle of the sexes” theme of vile historical males being humiliated/brought to the light/vanquished/possibly all three at once by an heroic Doctor in female form. Unless it’s done with a level of delicacy, skill and wit I’ve not seen before in Chinball’s work – or Moffat’s to be fair – it could be monumentally off-putting.

    100 lines, Donna: I must try to be more optimistic about Chris Chibnall’s Doctor Who. I must try…

    • bar

      Perhaps we should get Clara to write us some of those little prompt cards. Before we all succumb to triskaidecaphobia.

    • reTARDISed

      Chibnall has form for telling, not showing, us what we should know or believe (at least Moffat tries to sugar that pill with a few jokes). I expressed fears about going back into the human past a while ago, and the claims in the Mirror do not fill me with optimism. There is a modern compulsion to judge the past. Given the imperfections of the modern world, perhaps people like lecturing something that can’t answer back! The past is the past (although people might superficially resemble us physically, they did not share our world views and preconceptions), and let’s hope future generations judge us generously.

      • DonnaM

        It’s the first thing my tutor told us on day one. “Leave your modern preconceptions at the door and judge the past by its own standards. if you can’t – take another course!” Sadly few people are willing/able/capable of doing that, and the BBC in general doesn’t seem to get it at all.

        Given how fast attitudes change (anyone else remember the 1970s around here?) I shudder to imagine what future generations will say about the early 21st century!

        • FrancoPabloDiablo

          The sad fact is that awkward and uncomfortable history is being erased or rewritten these days regardless of it’s importance. You are lucky to have had a tutor with that integrity. Rest assured that students at Universities these days are not so lucky. Being brainwashed that they are victims, should be ashamed of the past they had no part of, that if the are offended then the right thing to do is not shrug it off or take it on the chin or ignore it but that they need safe spaces. They are being taught intolerance toward anyone and any thing that does not conform to what they have been told. Rewriting history does NOT help. I remember being impressed when RTD dealt with Martha’s race in The Shakespeare Code with a single line. No leftist liberal ramming down the throat there.

          • DonnaM

            Indeed. I had the good fortune to study history when it was still an academic subject: What happened? Why? What were the results of it happening? And (most importantly) what can we learn from all that? Critical function and analysis was rewarded in the 1980s education system – or in the portion of it I experienced at least.
            Remove statues of people whose codes of conduct/prejudices we now disdain? Blot them out of the history books? How will we learn from their mistakes if we forget them? I despair of my species sometimes FPD, I really do!

          • reTARDISed

            Technically, of course, the past no longer exists for us: that’s what I encourage my (university) students to explore. We reconstruct the past from what survives into the present: texts, objects and archaeological contexts. From that record we have imagine our way into past lives; present-day concerns usually influence how that reconstruction is conducted. If we destroy elements of that surviving evidence, then it is even more difficult to reconstruct the past. The urge to find “goodies” and “baddies” in the past is, I’m sure, why “dictator-ology” is so popular among History undergraduates today, particularly the subdiscipline I call “goose-step-ology”. We end up with scores of Stepford Students, all with degrees in Hitlerology. The past is much greyer and more fascinating than that, extending back over 3.3 million years ago to the first artefacts. If Chibnall’s desire is to set more stories in the human past, he would be well-advised to choose regions and periods with no clear evidence of patriarchies, so that we are spared the sermons on Western gender politics.

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            But surely the past exists for all of us. And what do you mean by “no longer”? Was there a time when the past DID exist for us then? Am genuinely curious. Can I assume you are a university lecturer yourself? If so, I’d love to hear more about your thoughts. If you ARE a lecturer I am heartened by your outlook and approach. More students need more lecturers like you.

            Archaeological remnants I feel in a lot of ways are more important to our understanding of the past. Narritive versions of history, naturally, tend to be written and exagerrated by the victors of whatever wars or battles they were triumphant in, either through propoganda of the time or in gloryfying themselves in the aftermath. But what concerns me is that while those past victors from history airbrushed history to suit themselves after a triumph, we seem now to be raising a generation of brainwashed idiots whose teachers are rewriting history for their purely PC and liberalist personal wars.

          • DonnaM

            The past exists for me – it’s what made the place I grew up in, the attitudes and experiences of the people who surrounded me. And while history is written by the winners there are always other clues – that’s where critical analysis comes in!

            I read the suggestion that Chibs avoid periods of patriarchy as an implication that reTARDISed – like myself – rather doubts the writer’s ability to handle the intricacies and shading of the subject matter 🙂

            I’m also interested, reTARDISed – you rightly point to the obsession with “Hitlerology”. Is there any emphasis given to the other side of the coin – “Stalinology” so to speak? It’s always seemed to me that the horrors of Nazism (and the fact that he’s the one “we” in a British sense fought) allows too many youngsters to grow up unaware of the atrocities committed in the name of “Marxist-Leninism” or “Socialism”

          • reTARDISed

            I think Hitlerology is a more popular branch of Dictatorology than Stalinology or Maology. I agree with you that Hitler is seen as a greater evil because we fought him directly, whereas the enormous death tolls created by Stalin and Mao are seen by some as the means to a greater “good”. It amuses me that one of the Communist parties in the UK (I forget which one) objected to Armando Iannucci’s recent film (Death of Stalin) on the grounds that it was biased and that the majority of Russians mourned his death. No mention was made of those that dared not express relief, or those that might have rejoiced had they not been murdered en route to the gulags.

          • reTARDISed

            Sorry for the delayed reply — rather a busy lecturing day yesterday (yes, I am a lecturer…). I think I wrote that comment rather too fast. What I meant to say is that only the present exists; the past is reconstructed and remembered (not always accurately), while the future is predicted (usually with even less accuracy). Because all of us have a past, it exists for us as we remember it or handle objects (often with emotional connections) that we have accumulated. However, that handling or remembering is really happening in the present — doesn’t stop that remembered past from affecting and shaping our decisions and personality, though! Archaeology (my discipline) has its own biases: material can disappear/decay or not be recovered. Colleagues of mine who work in historical archaeology tell me the really interesting questions are raised when written texts and archaeological evidence disagree. I work on the study of human origins, where it is difficult to say societies were matriarchal or patriarchal. I’m not advocating Chibnall revisit the Tribe of Gum, though!

          • FrancoPabloDiablo

            The famous phrase “those who ignore the mistakes of history are bound to repeat them” is relevant for a reason. Whitewashing history and all the evils that have been done by almost all cultures over time is in no way going to help future generations, let alone the present one being brainwashed. If I’ve offended anybody with my comments then I’m sure there is a safe space for you to retreat to.
            And if you want to know what has gone wrong just take a quick look at the laughable nonsense courses are that you can take nowadays in ACTUAL Universities! Your love of history will be of no interest to somebody taking a course in ‘Gender Studies’. That is an actual thing.

  • The Lazy Womble

    i don’t particularly care whether we have ten hour long episodes or twelve forty five minute episodes. I do care about what fills those minutes. Looking forward to finding out.