Is the end of time in sight for Doctor Who?

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In the universe of Doctor Who, silence rarely signifies a lack of activity. When the 2016 Christmas Special, ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’, airs among mince pies and mistletoe on 25th December, it will have been over a year since the last broadcast episode of the 53-year-old series. Long-standing fans of the show will know, however, that just because silence falls, it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Indeed, they will remember that silence often coincides with periods of crisis and radical change. The hiatus of 1985 marked, it has been argued, the point at which the fate of the ‘classic’ series was sealed; it was cancelled finally (and silently, of course) in 1989. The wilderness years of the 1990s, broken by a solitary TV movie, was actually a period of frenetic and prodigious production in which fandom, via the Virgin novels and Big Finish audio dramas, created the conditions for the triumphant return of the series in 2005.

This article will take a look at the wellbeing of Doctor Who as it approaches the final year of Steven Moffat’s time as show-runner and lead writer. With a slump in viewing figures over recent series, a decline in associated merchandise and rumours that the BBC is requiring incoming show-runner Chris Chibnall to adopt a ‘new broom’ approach for his debut season in 2018, is the Doctor approaching the kind of quiet crisis that led to his demise at the end of the 1980s? Or is he simply undergoing one the periodic regenerations that has enabled him to survive for so long as one of the great mythic heroes of modern times?
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2016


  • Doctor Who
  • Steven Moffat
  • television


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