Doctor Who can’t be made “to the current standard” under social distancing, says BBC Wales boss

BBC Wales Director Rhodri Talfan Davies has cast doubt on whether Jodie Whittaker will be back filming new episodes anytime soon.

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor - Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America

Will Doctor Who series 13 be delayed by the lockdown? It’s been the question on many a Whovian’s lips ever since the coronavirus pandemic forced various TV productions to shut down – and while “socially-distanced” TV is now beginning to film again, a BBC executive has cast doubt on whether Doctor Who could return under those circumstances.

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“It’ll be down to social distancing,” Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director of BBC Wales, said during an online Q&A when asked about the future of Doctor Who.

“A production like that, which at any point employs hundreds of people, freelance and staff, I don’t believe can be made to the current standard in a socially distanced environment.

“So it depends when you think social distancing is going to end.”

Davies also noted that these production issues could vary between Wales and England, thanks to the differing social distancing guidelines being enacted by the Welsh Assembly Government. Since 2005, Doctor Who has been made in Wales, and for the last few series filming and production has been centred at the Roath Lock Production Hub in Cardiff Bay.

“It may well be that the rules on social distancing in Wales are different to those in England,” Davies said.

“And obviously each production centre from those two countries is going to need to respond to the specific rules and regulations that each of the governments are introducing.”

Currently, Doctor Who already has one upcoming episode filmed – the late 2020/early 2021 festive special Revolution of the Daleks – with series 13 shooting previously rumoured to be kicking off around September 2020. If Davies is correct and socially distanced filming rules still apply by that time, it could be that Who fans have to wait even longer for the new episodes than previously thought.

However, the truth may be more complex than first appears. While the BBC declined to comment on Davies’ remarks, RadioTimes.com understands that the broadcaster still has no concrete plans to delay the start of Doctor Who production, a date for which was never officially decided anyway.

It’s also worth noting that social distancing measures have been changing regularly, and by autumn TV production might be able to operate with fewer restrictions.

Overall, though, it sounds like there’s still a bit of a question mark over the future of Doctor Who. If only we knew someone with a time machine who could go and take a look…

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Doctor Who returns to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021 – check out what else is on with our TV Guide