04 September 2007

BBC confirms a year hiatus between series four and five of Doctor Who

What happens when a TV star agrees to take on the role of Hamlet with the Royal Shakespeare Company, one that will run July through November of 2008, and one that will conflict with the time you usually film your hugely popular series?

For the BBC, it throws a spanner into the juggernaut that is the revived Doctor Who series.

Filming is already underway on series four of the show, schedule to bow in the spring of 2008, followed by airing here on Sci Fi next summer. After that, the show will not return as a full season until 2010.

However, there will be 4 Doctor Who specials, starting with the 2008 annual Christmas Special, followed by 3 more of those “specials” peppered out through 2009. All of them will star David Tennant as the Doctor.

A fifth series has been commissioned, but the BBC was mum on if Tennant will continue on with the title role, as there had been speculation that both he and show runner Russell T. Davies would depart before filming on series five would begin production.

The BBC press release came after unconfirmed rumors -at the time - that were speculation the series going on hiatus after series 4 screens on BB1. Then the Royal Shakespeare Company confirmed that Tennant indeed would be spending 6 months with their production as Hamlet.

Doing the math, most people realized that while Tennant would be doing Hamlet, it was also suppose to be doing a potential fifth series as the Doctor.

While this hiatus comes on the heels of series star David Tennant’s agreement to play Hamlet for 6 months, one cannot help but remember the near year off TOS took back in the 1980's. And that was forced by the BBC. Back then, of course, its departure for a year was based on many factors: low ratings, directionless stories and high violence. It would also hasten the end of Colin Baker’s tenure as the Doctor, as he was not asked back when production resumed. It would be cancelled in 1989, after three more, unremarkable seasons. One hopes history will not repeat itself.

Anyways, the BBC seems to be going out of its way this time to say that this is a “temporary hiatus” in 2009 after which they are emphasizing the series will return for a full fifth year in 2010. And like Tennant’s future involvement in a fifth series, there is no word if Davies will also continue as show runner beyond the 2008 Christmas Special and the three other stories set to air in 2009.

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