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Don’t Worry! ‘Doctor Who’ Is Still a British Show

David Tennant surrounded by all the 'Doctor Who' Doctors.

For those of you outside of the U.K., you may have noticed new episodes of Doctor Who being advertised on your Disney+ homepage. But what does that mean?

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On Saturday, November 25, the first of Doctor Who‘s three 60th-anniversary specials aired across the globe. “The Star Beast” saw the return of David Tennant as the Doctor, Catherine Tate as his hilarious, brave, and loyal companion Donna Noble, as well as the return of Russell T. Davies’ showrunning skills as he returns to helm the British cult science-fiction series for at least another two seasons. There’s plenty of Doctor Who madness to look forward to.

For the last 50 years, ABC has been the sole broadcaster of Doctor Who in the United States. So why did the new episode suddenly show up on Disney+? Well, the BBC, which has produced Doctor Who for the past 60 years, recently agreed to a ground-breaking distribution deal with Disney. While Doctor Who will remain exclusive to BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the U.K., Disney+ will be the sole distributor of all new Doctor Who episodes going forward worldwide. This means that, in any region where Disney+ is available, Whovians will be able to access the new episodes with more ease than ever before as long as one is subscribed to Disney’s streaming service.

Some viewers, however, might be worried that this means Disney is sinking their claws into Doctor Who. It has been reported, after all, that the new distribution deal has allowed the BBC to increase the show’s production budget significantly. But never fear—the BBC is retaining complete ownership over its flagship time-traveling series. Though the show will be partially produced by Bad Wolf Studios, per Gizmodo, “BBC Studios is ultimately responsible for delivering the show.” While Disney+ is allowed to distribute the program, they are not involved in its production whatsoever.

This is important. While the increased production budget will allow for grander sets, spectacular special effects, crazier worlds, bigger stars, and even more intricate storytelling, the reason Doctor Who is so popular is because it is a quintessentially British program. It is chaotic, messy, and joyously camp, a love letter to the sci-fi genre and British television. It needs British talent and British stars in charge of it the same way the Bond franchise does. Some things are inextricably tied to their origins, and Doctor Who is, without a doubt, one of those things.

It’s wonderful that Doctor Who will be more readily accessible than ever. This new era of the show can now reach millions more budding Whovians across the globe who may not have had a chance to fall in love with the Doctor’s crazy antics and his little blue spaceship before. It’s what the series deserves. Thankfully, though, it’ll be able to hold on to its goofy charm, that which has made it so beloved in the first place.

(featured image: BBC)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV and franchises like Marvel, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.

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