After a year of standalone stories, Doctor Who is bringing back its trademark two-part episodes, RadioTimes.com has learned, with the upcoming series of the BBC sci-fi drama featuring a number that extend over more than one instalment.
“I love a two-parter. And our two-parters are epic this year,” series showrunner Chris Chibnall exclusively told Radio Times as part of a wide-ranging interview about the new series (available to read in full in the latest issue).
“We always knew last year would be those 10 standalone stories, and this year we wanted to weave things in a bit more.”
When Doctor Who first aired in the 1960s to 80s every adventure was functionally a multi-part story, with shorter episodes adding up to a multi-part “serial” that would air over a number of weeks.
Later, after the series was revived in 2005 by Russell T Davies the series favoured longer 45-minute episodes, with roughly three two-part stories a year accompanied by a number of standalone stories. However, this format was occasionally tinkered by Davies’ successor Steven Moffat, and when Chibnall took over for the 2018 series every episode was a standalone story.
According to Chibnall this wasn’t a definitive statement about how they were making Doctor Who – more of a stylistic choice for his first run of episodes – and when it came to making a second series, he thought it was time to “change it up.”
“I think you can tell different types of stories within a Doctor Who two-parter. I love a Doctor Who cliffhanger,” he said.
“Obviously even though we didn’t officially do two-parters last year, you could argue that first one [Jodie Whittaker debut episode The Woman Who Fell to Earth] has a cliffhanger into the second. A two-parter that wasn’t a two-parter!”
Still, this year fans will be getting the real thing – and while Chibnall wouldn’t divulge exactly how many episodes (or which ones) we could expect stretched over multiple weeks, we’re sure fans will be happy to see this Doctor Who tradition restored.
You can read the full interview with Chris Chibnall, including his thoughts on the last series and the return of the Cybermen in the new issue of Radio Times – on sale now!
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in early 2020