Disney+ lands BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’ after striking far-reaching global rights deal

Doctor Who

Disney+ has confirmed a far-reaching deal that will hand it rights to long-running UK sci-fi series, Doctor Who.

The Mouse House streamer will become the exclusive home to the show’s future episodes outside of the UK, starting with the coming season that is set to debut in 2023. News of the agreement first emerged in July.

The series is again being produced in Wales by Sony-backed prodco Bad Wolf with BBC Studios Production. Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa stars in his first outing as the titular character, while Russell T Davies is returning to helm the series.

The deal between BBC and Disney Branded Television will provide additional budgetary firepower to the veteran series, which first debuted in 1963.

It has since become a global phenomenon, with broadcasters and streamers such as HBO Max in the US, BBC America and the ABC in Australia picking up the show from distributor BBC Studios.

While the show will continue to be available exclusively on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK, it is unclear which rights will now be available to international companies that have previously acquired the series.

‘Shared creative vision’

The BBC said the deal would “transform Doctor Who into a global franchise for UK audiences and the rest of the world”, with a “shared creative vision” that will “deliver this quintessentially British show to future generations on an unprecedented scale…”

Davies said: “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.”

Charlotte Moore, BBC’s chief content officer, added: “Russell T Davies’ vision for Doctor Who has always been out of this world and we are committed to ensuring that audiences across the globe get the opportunity to enjoy the Doctor’s epic adventures with the scale and ambition that they deserve.”

Alisa Bowen, Disney+ president, described the show as “a perfect addition” its slate.

Doctor Who follows the adventures of an alien time traveller known as The Doctor, who travels through time and space in the TARDIS, which resembles an old-fashioned British police telephone box. The Doctor can change their appearance when close to death, a conceit that has contributed to the programme’s longevity, with multiple actors portraying the character over the course of decades.

Jodie Whittaker, who spoke to TBI recently about the show, portrayed the 13th incarnation. The new episodes for Disney+ will return to screens in November 2023 to coincide with the 60th anniversary. David Tennant will play the 14th Doctor for three specials, before Gatwa takes over the role as the 15th Doctor over the festive season.

Read Next