Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Wales, has caused a stir by questioning whether Doctor Who will be able to film under Coronavirus social distancing guidelines, meaning we could be in for an even longer for Series 13.
Asked about the show’s future during an online Q&A conducted via Zoom, Davies said:
“It’ll be down to social distancing. A production like that, which at any point employs hundreds of people, freelance and staff, I don’t believe can be made to the current standard in a socially distanced environment. So it depends when you think social distancing is going to end.”
We’ve previously heard that Doctor Who is unlikely to be affected by the pandemic (as far as we know, no cast members have heard about returning to shooting just yet anyway), but this will presumably be determined based on when Series 13 airs. As we don’t suppose it’ll be on screens until late 2021, over a year away, the programme should be in pre-production now, but actual filming wouldn’t commence for a few months yet. Social distancing, however, might mean it’s pushed into 2022.
Things might be different because Doctor Who is filmed primarily in Cardiff – Wales adhering to different lockdown rules during the crisis – as Davies explains:
“It may well be that the rules on social distancing in Wales are different to those in England. And obviously each production centre from those two countries is going to need to respond to the specific rules and regulations that each of the governments are introducing.”
It’s curious, however, that other productions – including TV series like the upcoming Marvel series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and films like Jurassic World 3: Dominion – have restarted filming. You could put this down to differing rules between countries, but EastEnders, for instance, will also start shooting at the end of July.
We should note that the next episode of Doctor Who, Revolution of the Daleks, is already in the can, having been filmed at the tail-end of Series 12. That means we will get an episode over the festive period.
Obviously, this means nothing when you consider the thousands of people who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, Doctor Who does bring joy into people’s lives, so you can’t blame anyone for looking forward to a glimmer of light.