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Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall confirms season 13 will be three episodes shorter than usual

The iconic sci-fi series is the latest production to reveal COVID-related problems.

Chris Chibnall

The showrunner for Doctor Who, Chris Chibnall, has confirmed that the next season of the sci-fi drama has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and has had to reduce its normal run to eight episodes, but he added he was “thrilled” to be making any at all.

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Season 13, filming now, will be Jodie Whittaker’s third outing as The Doctor and not even her expertise in the realm of time and space has avoided the damage inflicted on the TV industry by the pandemic.

Chibnall (pictured, right) explained that the new health and safety protocols meant that each episode of Doctor Who was taking significantly longer to film than previously.

“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production,” he said. “Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous Covid working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11.”

Doctor Who executive producer Matt Strevens (pictured, left) said: “We are so thrilled to have unlocked the TARDIS, dusted down the sonic and be able to start filming again for the next series of Doctor Who. The amazing production team, crew and cast have worked wonders to get us shooting again in these challenging times.  It’s going to be as fun filled and action packed as ever – with plenty of surprises.”

Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama, said: “We are thrilled that filming series 13 of Doctor Who is now underway. The team have gone to great lengths to safely bring the TARDIS back to BBC One. We are all looking forward to seeing what adventures are in store for the Doctor but whilst we await her return, we can all look forward to the festive special.”

Under Chibnall’s predecessors Steven Moffat and Russell T Davies, Doctor Who typically ran for 12 episodes per year, plus a Christmas special.

This year the Doctor Who Christmas special Revolution of the Daleks, filmed back in 2019, is expected to air on New Year’s Day 2021, while season 13 is likely to air in autumn 2021.

In it, the Doctor is seen locked away in an “eternal prison” while on Earth, Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) have to work out how to fight the Daleks without the help of the Doctor.

Fortunately the special was completed before the first UK lockdown and according to the “voice” of the Daleks, actor Nicholas Briggs, it will be just the tonic for Doctor Who fans after this most abnormal of years.

He told RadioTimes.com“I think it was great that they got ahead and did this festive special – and it’s turned out to be extremely fortuitous actually, a lot more than they had probably intended. So I think it will be a great gift to Doctor Who fans and a lovely, lovely bit of Doctor Who at Christmastime, or round about whenever it’s going to be.”

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While you’re waiting visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight, or check out our guide to new TV shows 2020 to find out what’s airing this autumn and beyond.