Doctor Who season 13 will consist of just 8 episodes

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor - Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor - Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America /

Good news: Production on the new season of Doctor Who has finally begun! Bad news: Season 13 will now clock in at just eight episodes.

Filming on Doctor Who season 13 has finally begun, after rather significant coronavirus delays and shutdowns that impacted the entire television production industry.  This is good news, of course, and we should celebrate it.

But this is also 2020, which means that every scrap of good news something with a sprinkling of something awful on top, and here, it is this: Because of the (obviously, very necessary) increased safety protocols around filming, each episode is likely to take quite a bit longer to shoot than normal.

And Doctor Who has always been a series with a notoriously long and demanding shooting schedule, clocking in around 10 months in a year when the folks in charge didn’t have to worry about things like social distancing and protective gear.

The long story short of all of this is that season 13, when it does arrive, is going to be quite a bit shorter than we’re used to, even for the Chris Chibnall era, which has seen the show drop down to just ten episodes per season (plus a holiday installment.) The new season will be comprised of just eight episodes.

There’s no word on whether those eight installments include the 2021 holiday episode, or whether that’s something we will also have to forego next year.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who season 13 start of production. Image courtesy James Pardon/BBC Studios /

Chibnall himself seems upbeat about the situation and has promised fans a season to remember, despite its shorter run time.

"“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production,” Chibnall said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be back making the show. 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. But rest assured, the ambition, humor, fun and scares you expect from Doctor Who will all still be firmly in place. For everyone around the world, this is a challenging period – but the Doctor never shirks from a challenge!”"

But, for fans, it’s certainly a disappointing blow, no matter how understandable – and correct, even –  the decision to shorten the season might be.

Thankfully, we’ll still get a new festive special this holiday season, titled “The Revolution of the Daleks,” which just managed to finish filming before the production lockdowns kicked in earlier this year. Whew, right?

This year’s holiday episode will pick up where season 12 finale, “The Timeless Children,” left off, having just revealed that the Doctor isn’t really a Time Lord at all, but a previously unknown alien species that served as a genetic blueprint for her people. More pressingly, Thirteen is also currently stuck in a high-security Judoon prison, with little hope of escape and friends that don’t yet realize she’s missing.

How will she escape? We’ll have to wait and see.

Next. Doctor Who: Every episode of season 12, ranked. dark

Doctor Who will return this holiday season. Are you looking forward to “The Revolution of the Daleks”? Sound off in the comments.