Why Who not present for Christmas? What of 2019?

It looks like the rumours of no Christmas special are true, but will Doctor Who have a 2019 presence beyond New Year's Day?

Rumours, ill-founded or not, are usually to be found circling all things Doctor Who with speculation rapidly becoming debated then accepted as fact until its formally denied – and often not helped by the tabloids reporting what is said on internet forums as fact and then said forums taking the reports as confirmation. It’s the BAD kind of ‘echo-chamber’, not our better, more reliable version.

That being said, sometimes the rumours aren’t quite as wild as first perceived.  There were concerns some months ago that there would not be a Doctor Who Christmas special, though such worries seem to be poo-pooed by exiting showrunner Steven Moffat confirming he’d stayed on as long as he had to make sure there was a 2017 seasonal outing  (where Peter Capaldi waved goodbye) and then new showrunner Chris Chibnall confirming there would be another episode following the new ten-part main series itself which finishes in December.  However, it looks as if Chibnall’s words were deliberately specific and that some of the rumours were true: there apparently will NOT be a Christmas special for the show – the first time in the modern era that Doctor Who will not have pride of place on the Christmas Day schedule. Several tabloids cited the ‘fact’ that Chibnall wanted to move the show from the Christmas Day setting as they’d run out of ideas to fit a Christmas theme into proceedings – which seems highly unlikely in and of itself.

Instead, that extra episode now looks set to be broadcast at some point on New Year’s Day 2019. It’s a notable move because of the competition for ratings that are particularly scrutinised over the holiday period. In addition, some suggest it could add just a little more credence to another rumour that there will be no new series of Doctor Who in 2019. There has been no official comment on that possibility either way (indeed the news of the move from Christmas Day has not been fully announced) – though equally no real apparent effort to squash the rumours.  It would seem counter-intuitive to essentially skip an entire year of Doctor Who programming when it is both under the microscope for its new lead, Jodie Whittaker and also a ratings magnet on an international basis. However it would not be the first time that broader logic has taken a backseat to other factors (actors’ schedules and personal circumstances, budget, even internal politics etc). There were only five ‘special’ episodes between the end of 2008 and the start of 2010 (featuring David Tennant) and the 2011 run, with Matt Smith, was split into two parts. The subsequent ‘seventh’ season was broadcast with half the run either side of Christmas  (all Saturdays in September 2012, the Christmas Day special and then a break until March through May). Moffat at one point claimed such gaps fuelled fans’ anticipation for the show, though that seems somewhat disingenuous, even if ratings were good each time it returned.

Either way, the current run has made a significant impact and it would be a shame to lose any momentum. But, as always with Doctor Who, time will tell.