This past weekend saw the release of the first “Doctor Who” special as part of a new deal between the BBC and Disney, where the show was released on Disney+ around the world, except in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The deal includes three 60th Anniversary specials and holiday specials, along with a brand new season of “Doctor Who”, which will star Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor, who is an extraterrestrial being, who travels across time and space through a unique device called TARDIS. It travels to Earth and befriends humans who help it in its exploits.

Over the past 60 years, the show has become one of the most popular British shows, and because of this, it has become one of the most lucrative British sources of residuals for former writers, since the show is repeated so many times and is also available on many different streaming platforms around the world including Max and Player.

However, with the new “Doctor Who” series, the BBC and Disney will not be following the same path of residuals, as according to Deadline, the new specials and series have shifted to a buyout model, where the writers, including the showrunner Russell T. Davies has been paid more upfront in advance, in order not to receive residual payments at a later date.

This new contract was freely negotiated and agreed upon with writers and their agents.   The writers have been willing to take payment in advance, similar to how many shows are created now, especially within a streaming era.

Over the summer, there has been lots of attention on residual payments following the writer’s strike, but it’s important to note that “Doctor Who” doesn’t fall under the Writers Guild Of America. Instead, it falls under the Writers Guild of Great Britain.  Ellie Peers, who is the general secretary of the British Union, told Deadline:

“As a trade union we take our responsibilities in negotiations very seriously and this involves being in full possession of the facts before taking up issues with broadcasters and others, both privately and publicly. The terms outlined to us by Deadline, if true, would represent a serious retrograde step for UK writers working on Doctor Who. We urge writers who have these contracts to come forward and contact us in confidence so we can look at them properly and move forward from there.” 

The BBC has responded to Deadline, stating:

Doctor Who deals are individually negotiated and commercially confidential. However, all deals take into account both the rights needed by the programme funders and the fees and residuals payable to talent.”

Ultimately, the writers and both the BBC and Disney have signed an agreement that all parties have agreed on, with the writers still being paid more upfront, and this is something we are likely to see continue to become more common.  While the writer’s strikes have highlighted the situation, its going to come down to individual deals in the future.

What do you think about the “Doctor Who” writers signing a deal without residuals?  Let us know on social media!


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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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