The upcoming thirteenth series of Doctor Who will be six episodes long, the BBC has confirmed.
It was originally announced that there would be eight episodes in the season, but it has now been announced that the main series will consist of just half a dozen episodes, each of which will form part of an ongoing storyline.
In addition, a trilogy of specials will now air in 2022 – one more than had previously been planned, with the first airing on New Year’s Day 2022 and a second following later in spring 2022.
The third feature-length special, in which the Thirteenth Doctor will regenerate, will then air in autumn 2022, forming part of the BBC’s Centenary celebrations.
A BBC spokesperson said, "With a six-part Event Serial announced for the autumn, and two Specials already planned for 2022, BBC One has now asked for an additional final feature-length adventure for the Thirteenth Doctor, to form a trio of Specials for 2022."
The news was included as part of the announcement that Jodie Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall are set to stand down from their roles at the end of the season – meaning that they each have only nine adventures left before they depart the show and a new Doctor inherits the TARDIS keys.
News that the upcoming series would have a serialised story rather than the usual standalone episodes was first announced last weekend at Doctor Who’s Comic-Con@Home panel, with Chibnall explaining the ambitious plans.
"The big thing we’re going to be doing this year is that it’s all one story – so every episode is a chapter in a bigger story," he said. "And so we’ve changed the shape of the series for this year."
And Chibnall has said that finishing his and Jodie's time on the show with an additional Special "is a lovely bonus" adding, "It’s great that the climax of the Thirteenth Doctor’s story will be at the heart(s) of the BBC’s centenary celebrations."
Meanwhile, BBC Director of Drama Piers Wenger added that, "Jodie's final adventure to mark the BBC's Centenary in 2022 is set to be a Doctor Who Special to remember."
The upcoming series will see Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor once again team up with Mandip Gill as Yaz, and the pair will also be joined by new companion Dan Lewis.
Meanwhile Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson will also have a recurring role as new character Vinder across multiple episodes, while more casting announcements are still to be announced.
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And Chibnall has teased that there will be "a lot of cliffhangers " during the series, including "a couple of my favourite cliffhangers that we’ve done."
“There’s been so many surprises that I never saw coming,” added new series star John Bishop. “Not at all. So I think there’s definitely some shocks.”