Disney Making Drastic Change To Doctor Who

Doctor Who fans are furious that Disney will have creative input in new episodes of the series.

By Vic Medina | Published

If you thought Doctor Who fans had some spicy opinions before, you should check Who Twitter right now. Search “Doctor Who Disney” and you’ll see an endless stream of fans up in arms over the recent news that not only will Disney+ be the new streaming home for new episodes of Doctor Who, the media giant plans to give future iterations of the Doctor a big-budget Hollywood makeover and have creative input in the series. That’s not sitting well with Who fans worldwide…at all.

Disney will begin broadcasting Doctor Who episodes in late 2023, when David Tennant returns as the Fourteenth Doctor for several specials. After that, Ncuti Gatwa will take officially take the reigns as the Fifteenth Doctor.

As Disney+ looks to increase its programming diversity, it scored a bit of a pop culture coup by acquiring the American rights to the BBC’s flagship series. As part of that agreement, Disney will have the ability to provide “creative input” into the show’s direction for new episodes. There was also a pledge from the House of Mouse that budgets for those new episodes would be much larger, to give the episodes a more cinematic feel.

Those two points are not sitting well with fans, who are reading between the lines and not liking the implications of that sort of creative freedom in Disney’s corporate hands.

Doctor Who
David Tennant as The Doctor.

Disney intends to make Doctor Who a “global franchise,” according to the UK Telegraph, and it sees bigger budgets as a means to an end. This is actually a sticking point for some fans, who point out that part of the charm of Doctor Who has been the low-budget appearance of the production and villains that are more cheesy than imposing. A lot of that is tied to the nostalgia dating back to the earliest days of the franchise in 1963.

To counter that point, larger budgets and better special effects haven’t been an issue affecting the quality of shows for any of the recent Doctors, when coupled with great acting and solid scripts that fans enjoyed.

However, the idea that an unnamed corporate executive at Disney will be allowed to give the show their creative input is a concern, mostly because Disney does not have a great track record with handling beloved franchises or IPs that it has taken over. Disney’s recent fumbles with its live-action adaptations of its own animated classics leads many to believe it should keep its hands off of Doctor Who’s creative direction. On the plus side, it was announced that showrunner Russell T. Davies will continue to oversee the creative vision for the series, although fans still fear Disney’s influence.

While fans are certainly entitled to their opinion, they also have a knack of inserting too much negativity into the Doctor Who experience. For example, Peter Capaldi, the 12th Doctor, recently said he would never return to the franchise, saying he had “done his time,” like it was a prison sentence. Fans were particularly harsh with Capaldi and his run, which may have been one of the reasons behind his reluctance to ever return.

Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block), who just completed her run as the Thirteenth Doctor, was highly criticized by Who fans, although their criticism was directed more at the quality of the stories she was given, rather than her performance. If there is a silver lining to Disney’s larger budgets, it could be their ability to attract writers that could give Doctor Who the stories it deserves.

It should be noted that the Disney deal only applies to Doctor Who airings in the United States. The BBC will still retain broadcasting rights overseas.