Production Begins on 'Doctor Who' Season 13 with Shorter Episode Count

(Photo: BBC America)

Not even a global pandemic can keep the Doctor down for long. 

Production on Doctor Who Season 13 - the third to feature Jodie Whittaker as the renegade Time Lady - has finally begun. Thanks to the effects of the coronavirus shutdowns that threw much of the entertainment industry into turmoil, filming on Who has seen its share of delays already. And the show has a notoriously lengthy and involved shoot, usually taking about ten months to put together a single season. 

“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production," showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a press release. "We’re thrilled to be back making the show. Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous COVID working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11. But rest assured, the ambition, humor, fun, and scares you expect from Doctor Who will all still be firmly in place. For everyone around the world, this is a challenging period – but the Doctor never shirks from a challenge!”

The idea that Season 13 will clock in at just eight episodes rather than its usual Chibnall-era ten - or eleven if you count the annual holiday installment - is certainly something of a downer. And it's also not clear whether this eight-episode count includes the 2021 festive episode, or if that too will ultimately prove a pandemic casualty. But in a year where so many things have been delayed, postponed, or outright canceled, there's something immensely comforting about the fact that the Doctor's working on it, even if her visit next year will undoubtedly shake out to be shorter than any of us would like it to be.

“We are so thrilled to have unlocked the TARDIS, dusted down the sonic, and be able to start filming again for the next season of Doctor Who," said executive producer Matt Strevens. "The amazing production team, crew, and cast have worked wonders to get us shooting again in these challenging times. It’s going to be as fun-filled and action-packed as ever — with plenty of surprises.”

The Thirteenth Doctor was last seen in the season 12 finale, "The Timeless Children,"  which left her trapped in a high-security Judoon prison.

In the upcoming festive special, titled “Revolution of the Daleks,” the Doctor’s best friends Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) have to pick up their lives without her. However, they soon discover a disturbing plan forming involving one of the Doctor’s biggest and most feared enemies – the Daleks. How do you fight the Daleks without the Doctor? With the Doctor’s fate unknown, just what will Season 13 bring?

Are you looking forward to more Doctor Who? How do you feel about a season of just eight episodes? Let's discuss in the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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