Doctor Who Season 13: The BBC On Whether They’ll End The Show Due To Low Ratings

By Rick Gonzales | 5 hours ago

Doctor Who season 13

When Doctor Who and the BBC announced that Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch, The Assets) would be the Thirteenth Doctor it was met with mixed reactions. Every previous incarnation of the Time Lord had been a man. In fact, many fans who followed since the beginning have referred to the fact that the character is called the Time Lord and not Time Lady. Whichever side your preference falls, it won’t sway the BBC from making Doctor Who season 13 with the Thirteenth Doctor.

Here’s everything we know about Doctor Who season 13.


Doctor Who Season 13 premiere

First you should know we are definitely getting Doctor Who season 13. Even though the show is struggling to maintain its audience (more on that later), the BBC has committed to keep making Doctor Who at least through season 13.

So when will Season 13 arrive? This one is hard to predict. When Peter Capaldi starred as The Doctor before season 11, the premiere dates had a tendency to bounce all over. Before that, they usually hit in the April/May timeframe. Once Jodie Whittaker took the mantle, it’s been a New Years’ Day tradition. So best bet would be for Doctor Who season 13 to see a January 1, 2021 premiere date.


The Doctor as a woman

It’s confirmed. Jodie Whittaker will return in Doctor Who season 13 as The Doctor. Various sources have confirmed it and so has Whittaker, who announced her imminent return saying:  “Yes, I’m doing another season… I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”

Most fans seem to have warmed Whittaker’s Doctor, even the ones who aren’t happy with the rest of the show currently being produced. Her character has been very different from those previous regenerations of the Time Lord, not only because she’s the first time the Doctor has regenerated into a woman, but because of her personality.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall described the new Doctor soon after he announced Whittaker would assume the role. “The Thirteenth Doctor is incredibly lively, warm, funny, energetic, inclusive – she’s the greatest friend you could wish to have as your guide around the universe,” he told RadioTimes.

With Whittaker’s return a lock for Doctor Who season 13, fans know that at least for one more season Doctor Who, regardless of the continued unhappiness from its most ardent fans, will remain the same.


Doctor Who season 13 cast

Whittaker’s Doctor has been with the same three companions since her premiere and with Season 12 smack dab in the middle of its run, the same three continue on now. Bradley Walsh stars as Graham, Tosin Cole is Ryan and Mandip Gill has returned as Yaz. It is expected that these three will return with Whittaker for Doctor Who season 13, but one never knows.


Original Doctor in Season 13

It’s too early to tell what Doctor Who season 13 may be about. With time-travel as the show’s central focus, there is always a chance Whittaker’s Doctor runs into a previous doctor, as the show has pulled off this feat in the past. In fact recent episodes have focused on a character who may in fact be the original Doctor. She’s been played by actress Jo Martin (pictured above).

There is also the chance that whatever story is running at the end of season 12 will move forward to season 13. Or since it’s Doctor Who, they could totally reset everything. Given the trouble the show has been having in the ratings, a total reset might be just what they need for Doctor Who season 13.


Doctor Who in trouble

It’s no secret that since the announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, Doctor Who has been on shaky ground. Some would like to point the finger directly at Whittaker, but it isn’t that cut and dry.

In fact, the first six episodes of Season 12 have been met with mixed results by series critics, ranging on the old Rotten Tomato-meter from as high as 100% approval down to 47%.

Fans, on the other hand, have been much harsher in their critique. One fan posted on Rotten Tomatoes, “Really sad to see a good show go so bad. I don’t think the show can be saved at this point. Just end it and put it out of its misery. It’s embarrassing to those of us that are going to wear Doctor Who shirts to the conventions.”

Not only is the series getting ripped by its fans, but the series is also losing viewers in droves. Over the course of Season 12, the show has lost close to a million viewers from the numbers it had at the start of the Season 12 premiere. That’s nearly 1/4 of its total audience, in just a few short weeks. That doesn’t bode well for Doctor Who season 13.

The BBC On Doctor Who’s Low Ratings

Doctor Who on BBC

One of the big questions will need to be answered: what happens if Doctor Who season 13 continues its downward spiral? How long will the BBC continue to back a floundering series?

Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenge was asked at a recent BBC even it they would consider “resting” the Doctor Who franchise in light of the show’s recent ratings woes. Here’s how he answered: “I worked on Doctor Who myself and produced it for many years and I can honestly say I don’t think it’s been in better health editorially. The production values have never been better. It’s also not just funded by the BBC, it’s funded by lots of international partners.”

That’s ‘not exactly a straight answer but it does suggest that ratings alone aren’t what creates Doctor Who’s revenue stream. Wenge continued, “It’s an incredibly important show for young audiences, it’s still watched by families in a world where there are fewer shows that have the power to do that. It will always be an important show for us and we’re a very long way from wanting to rest it.”

That doesn’t entirely put to rest the idea that the BBC might bail on Doctor Who if the ratings continue to fall, but it does sound like they are currently still behind the series as it is now.


13 doctors

For those unfamiliar with Doctor Who, the show is about The Doctor, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, the original home of all the Time Lords, located 250 light-years from Earth. The first Doctor left Gallifrey in a stolen TARDIS, a time machine that appears on Earth disguised as a blue police box, when inside the interior is vast.

The Doctor typically travels with companions in an effort to thwart evildoers from hurting the innocent or even stop them from changing history. The Doctor also has the ability to regenerate. When death is imminent, a Doctor will restore themselves, hence the Thirteenth Doctor. They all do represent the same Doctor, keeping memories of those who came before them, but they regenerate into new bodies with new personalities and employ different methods in handling the issues they are faced with.

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