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While new episodes of Doctor Who premiere at 9 p.m. EST in the United States (a.k.a. right in the middle of primetime), the show has typically aired at an earlier timeslot in the U.K. so that younger fans can enjoy it at a more reasonable hour. That wasn’t the case with Season 9, which started off airing at 7:45 p.m., but then frequently shifted anywhere between 8 p.m. to 8:25 p.m as the season continued to accommodate the series Strictly Come Dancing. Many believe this was detrimental to the show’s viewership last year, including The Doctor himself, Peter Capaldi. As he put it:
The BBC is an incredible organization, but...sometimes people there think, That’s looking after itself. And it’s not being looked after. I think maybe their eye was taken off the ball, or the show was seen as a thing they could just push around. It’s not. It’s a special thing.
Capaldi voiced his thoughts during an interview with Newsweek, saying how the company seemed to take the Time Lord’s small screen adventures for granted this past year. He also noted that because Doctor Who is a family show, “rituals” are built around watching it, so scheduling changes throw a wrench in that. Even Capaldi had trouble keeping up with it when it was on.
The actor is right when he said Doctor Who is a “special thing," considering how the show has built such a massive worldwide fanbase over recent years. The BBC's scheduling shifts did see some changes with the ratings, and while it wasn’t anything catastrophic (especially since we live in a time when shows are often being watched after they air live), it undoubtedly frustrated many. Since Doctor Who has been renewed until 2020, at least fans don’t have to worry about it suddenly being cancelled, even though a hiatus is forthcoming.
Doctor Who is going through a creative shift following Season 9’s conclusion and the most recent Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song.” Showrunner Steven Moffat announced in January that he’ll depart the show following Season 10, which has been delayed until 2017. After his exit, Broadchurch’s Chris Chibnall will take over the position, and he’ll begin his tenure with Season 11 in 2018. Peter Capaldi will reprise the Twelfth Doctor for Season 10, but he hasn’t decided yet if he’ll remain once Chibnall boards.
Doctor Who won’t return to the airwaves until this year’s Christmas special in December, but U.S. viewers can catch episodes on BBC America or purchase episodes on platforms like iTunes. Unfortunately, rumors about the series returning to Amazon Prime were premature, and it’s currently not available for streaming stateside.