Doctor Who's eleventh season was one marked by giant changes for the franchise. Obviously, new Doctor portrayer Jodie Whittaker was a big part of the newness as the first female time lord, as were her three different companions. Season 11 was also the first of the modern Doctor Who seasons to make the primetime leap from Saturday nights to Sunday nights, but it appears that shift may have only been a temporary one.
Nothing has been confirmed in either direction, but it's being reported that the BBC is not only looking into it, but it's supposedly already planning to move Doctor Who back to its original Saturday night time slot for Season 12. Fans might not have to worry about trying to split time between the Doctor's adventures and all the other major TV fare that embraced Sunday nights as a key time for airing. (HBO and AMC are among the most notable Sunday-focused networks.)
The alleged reasoning for moving Doctor Who back to Saturday nights is, to be expected, largely tied to viewership stats and ratings. Whenever Jodie Whittaker got her first full episode with the Season 11 premiere, U.K. audiences turned out in droves for an audience of around 8.2 million people on the night. However, the season's final Sunday night live airing was watched by 5.2 million people, signaling a loss of three million people across the ten-week season. (Delayed viewing did give things a boost.)
Doctor Who's latest batch of adventures combined to make up one of the most critically acclaimed seasons yet, with Jodie Whittaker's Doctor and Chris Chibnall's topical sci-fi storytelling getting much of the praise. So it definitely wasn't a distinct lack of interest or issues with quality that stunted the show's ratings growth.
Rather, it's speculated that Sunday nights aren't so optimal for a family-geared series like Doctor Who, which has long been enjoyed by parents alongside their children. Even beyond any other primetime offerings, Sunday nights are also a point when many children are doing their homework for the following school day, making it more difficult to delve into weekly travels through time and space.
For what it's worth, Jodie Whittaker's Doctor Who season did bring in bigger audiences than Peter Capaldi did for the Twelfth Doctor's final season, and her early numbers were higher than those for other former stars. So one can possibly assume that the BBC execs are hoping to carry on that growth with Season 12, which is set to debut in 2020.
The rumors about Doctor Who's potential schedule change for Season 12 was reported by the U.K. outlet The Mirror, a mostly-tabloid that definitely isn't known for boasting a constant string of 100% proven-as-fact stories. As such, this news is to be approached with a skeptical set of eyes and ears.
Having said that, though, The Mirror actually has been more up to snuff with its reliability when it comes specifically to Doctor Who items that were announced after current showrunner Chris Chibnall replaced former showrunner Steven Moffat. So don't spread this word as gospel, but also don't be surprised if it turns out to be quite true.
As for things I'd LOVE to be true, see Alex Kingston's thoughts on River Song popping by to chat it up with Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. It could happen on a Wednesday night, for all I care.
A single day's change on the primetime schedule might not seem like a major one, but it could make all the difference in the world for Jodie Whittaker and her Doctor Who family. Stay tuned to see where the beloved sci-fi series will show up in 2020, and keep busy with all of the awesome genre shows currently populating the midseason schedule.