Disney+ is getting into the timey-wimey business. The streamer will become the new home for “Doctor Who” outside of its native U.K., in a massive shift in the international presence of the long-running British TV institution. The news was announced by Ncuti Gatwa, who is set to become the 15th Doctor, in an interview on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” on Tuesday.
Under this new deal — made by the BBC and Disney Branded Entertainment — new episodes of “Doctor Who” will stream on Disney+ in the United States and all international markets in which the streamer is available. In the U.K. and Ireland, the sci-fi series will continue to air exclusively on the BBC. The deal will begin in November 2023 to coincide with the three specials set to air for the show’s 60th anniversary, and will continue when the show returns for its 14th series.
“We’re excited by the opportunity to bring new seasons of this beloved franchise exclusively to Disney+ and introduce the show to the next generation of audiences in more than 150 markets around the world,” Disney+ President Alisa Bowen said in a statement. “The series is a perfect addition to our ever-growing catalog of global content that continues to make Disney+ the home for exceptional storytelling.”
Stateside, “Doctor Who” aired on BBC America, which is owned by BBC and AMC Networks in a joint deal, since 2008. Other than “Doctor Who,” the channel’s other most successful shows include “Killing Eve,” which wrapped this year, and “Orphan Black.” It’s unclear what this decision will mean for the future of the two companies’ close relationship.
The Disney+ news comes during a period of transition for the science fiction series, which revolves around an alien time traveler named The Doctor who can reincarnate into different forms. The 13th (and first female) Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, exited the series in this Sunday’s special “The Power of the Doctor.” The 14th Doctor, in an unusual move, will be played by David Tennant, who previously played the 10th incarnation from 2006 to 2010, in the three 60th anniversary specials. Gatwa will be introduced as the 15th Doctor during the specials. Moreover, the specials will be written by Russell T. Davies, who revived the show in 2005 and ran it for five years. Davies is set to take over as the showrunner going forward, replacing Chris Chibnall, who ran Whittaker’s time on the series.
“I love this show, and this is the best of both worlds – with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney+ together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the UK,” Davies said in a statement.