For American fans of UK television, production models across the pond can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the common six, eight, or thirteen episode series runs in the UK can free writers from some of the constraints that often accompany 20+ episode American seasons. Stories can be told more compactly and series can escape the “filler” that is sometimes necessary to stretch plots out in a traditional American season. Unfortunately, it also means viewers have less time to spend with the characters and world, and longer periods between series.
So, when the showrunner of an iconic and internationally popular UK show hints that an upcoming series may be longer than usual, it gets picked up pretty quickly. In a recent, brief interview with Radio Times, Doctor Who head writer Stephen Moffat teased just that.
When asked what kind of an episode run we might expect for the next series (set to air this Fall), Moffat replied that there would be “at least” 14 episodes. This fits with the standard Doctor Who run of 13 episodes and a Christmas special, which Moffat mentioned would essentially be a part of this season’s run instead of the free-standing, mid-year special it used to be. It’s a fairly noncommittal answer that reads more like Moffat trying to appease the interviewer’s leading question than anything else, but his comment that the show will return for a “long run” does leave a crack for speculation.
With Doctor Who‘s increasing popularity and promotion in the United States, it might not be surprising if the BBC decided to commission a few extra episodes to boost their return in international markets. With the somewhat uneven nature of the last couple of seasons, though, having more episodes may not actually be a good thing.
Doctor Who turns 50 in 2013 so, as seems inevitable in almost any interview with anyone connected to the show these days, the question of the anniversary also came up in this interview. Moffat remained mum on what kind of celebration or commemoration for this huge milestone, but revealed that there are things in the works that he can’t yet talk about. He does seem genuinely excited about the plans for the 50th anniversary season and, as a Doctor Who fan himself, had a message for other Whovians: “I promise you – I promise you, for so many reasons I can’t talk about yet – that there will never be a better time to be a Doctor Who fan. I absolutely promise you that.”
Expectations for the 50th anniversary are already pretty high, so hopefully Moffat and the show can live up to the hype to which he continues to contribute.