Back in 2022, the BBC announced it had made a deal with Disney to come together for future seasons and specials of “Doctor Who”, a British sci-fi show that recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

As part of the deal, “Doctor Who” would continue to air on the BBC and iPlayer in the UK and Ireland, while everywhere else, new episodes of “Doctor Who” would premiere on Disney+.   

We’ve already seen four specials released on Disney+, three for the 60th Anniversary, which saw David Tennant return as the Doctor, followed by a Christmas special, which was the first adventure of the new Doctor, played by Ncuti Gatwa.

As part of the new deal, it was announced that Russell T Davies would be returning as a showrunner, and he recently appeared on the They Like to Watch podcast and spoke about how the BBC will need to look for more co-funding for projects like “Doctor Who”, as the funding method used, the UK Television License (£169.50/$214 a year), which all British households are required to pay, if they use BBC services or watch live broadcasts, is coming under more scrutiny as entertainment changes.

” I had already said in interviews that I think Doctor Who will have to become a co-pro, there’s no way the BBC is going to fund that. You’ve also got to look in the long term at the end of the BBC, which is somehow, surely, undoubtedly on its way in some shape or form. What is Doctor Who going to do then? You have to prepare for that.”

He also explained that in a world of streaming, with amazing sci-fi shows like “Stranger Things” and “The Mandalorian,” “Doctor Who” should stand among them, but if the BBC were to die, would “Doctor Who” also go? Therefore, additional funding would be needed.

Russell explained how Disney’s investment also helped the new show, allowing them to expand the budget to create bigger worlds. Without Disney’s additional money, the show would have looked very different.

Recently, the Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, said that the “Doctor Who” deal was “a good example of how we can work to deliver more value through third-party funding, while protecting content for UK audiences.”

The BBC has partnered with major Hollywood studios on many occasions, most recently with HBO on “His Darkest Materials” and Disney’s FX on “A Christmas Carol.”  

Over the last few years, there has been much more scrutiny over the future of the BBC, as when the licence fee was introduced in 1946, the BBC was the sole UK broadcaster, and there were no other choices.   Almost eighty years later, audiences have much more choice over what they spend their money on and how they access it. 

Many question why they should have to pay for the BBC, even if they don’t use it.     And fewer people are paying for it since changes to the law a few years ago stopped it being a criminal offence if a household didn’t pay the license fee.  

Politicians are looking at potentially removing the TV License. Currently, the BBC license fee is guaranteed until 31 December 2027, but the BBC is being pushed into researching how it might need to reform beyond that, which is why partnerships with Disney are becoming more vital.  

Should the BBC’s primary way of being funded by British citizens via the TV License change, big expensive shows like “Doctor Who” will need investment to continue.

This new season of Doctor Who follows the Doctor and Ruby Sunday on infinite adventures across time and space in the TARDIS. From the Regency era in England to war-torn futures, the duo champions the forces of good while encountering incredible friends and dangerous foes.

“Doctor Who” debuts on Disney+ worldwide (excluding the UK) on Friday, May 10th, 2024, at  7:00 p.m. EDT. The series will also premiere at the same time in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Twitter: Facebook:

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