So there have been rumours hovering around for some time now that there will not be a full series of Doctor Who in 2016, initially reported by the magazine Private Eye. The Mirror (whose track record on Doctor Who rumours is infamously deplorable) recently caused considerable hubbub among the fandom with its report that the number of episodes in Series 10 will be “halved”, supposedly because Peter Capaldi wanted to work on other projects.
These rumours appear to have been laid to rest with Steven Moffat’s confirmation that Series 10 will, indeed, be a full 12-episode run. This has been taken in many quarters to mean that, yes, 2016 will feature a full 12-episode Series 10, same as this year and last year. That may well yet turn out to be the case, but I have reasons to doubt that a full-length Series 10 in 2016 is guaranteed, at least at this point.
Reading Steven Moffat’s “confirmation”, it seems like he’s chosen his words very carefully. He didn’t say “there will be 12 episodes in 2016”. What he actually said was, yes, Series 10 will be 12 episodes, but “I don’t know when it goes out. That’s up to someone else. And even if I did know – which I genuinely don’t – I wouldn’t be allowed to say so as I have absolutely no say in it whatsoever.”
So Series 10 will be 12 episodes, but when it airs, and over what time frame, we don’t know—not even Moffat knows yet.
That Moffat has — finally — spoken up about the Series 10 situation, when these rumours have been circulating for approximately three months now, since the original Private Eye article was published, is curious. Why allow the rumours circulate for so long?
My hunch is that the situation of Doctor Who for at least the next two years is up in the air at the moment, that the BBC or whoever be the relevant powers that be have not yet decided what is happening with Doctor Who in 2016. Moffat’s “confirmation” of a full Series 10 has only come now to hastily cover Doctor Who’s (and Peter Capaldi’s) back after the damaging Mirror report.
I talk about hasty back-covering without resentment. If a full series of Doctor Who isn’t possible in 2016 for whatever reason, that’s fine. I just wish that the BBC had put out a statement earlier making the nature of the situation clear, so the rumours wouldn’t have been allowed to get out of hand, as they did. So no undignified covering of backs was necessary.
For my part, although a full Series 10 next year would be fab, I wouldn’t mind too much if we got, say, a split series (à la Series 7), or a year of specials before a full Series 10 in 2017. If we don’t get a full series next year, my preference would actually be for the latter, a succession of 3-6 Sherlock-esque feature-length specials spaced evenly throughout the year. It would make for a very different kind of Doctor Who than we’re used to, and I’d be very interested to see what Steven Moffat does with the 90-minute time-frame in Doctor Who.
Even a split-series might be an interesting experiment, if Moffat has learnt his lessons from Series 7 (i.e. “blockbuster of the week” is no substitute for quality narratives). Six regular episodes a year should, one would think, allow more time and effort to be put into writing and production of those episodes, making for better stories.
But we’ll see.