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In the lead-up to the Doctor Who 60th anniversary, along with a trio of David Tennant-starring specials, the BBC has announced a very cool thing for long-time fans. Tales of the TARDIS will see in-canon reunions between various classic-era Doctors and their companions. Fifth Doctor and Tegan, Sixth Doctor and Peri, and Seventh Doctor and Ace will all have scenes together again. For Doctor actors who’ve passed, companions will get back together. These include First Doctor companions Vicki and Steven and Second Doctor companions Jamie and Zoe. Third Doctor companion Jo Grant will meet up with Clyde from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
The interstitials—written by showrunner Russell T Davies and Who writers Phil Ford and Pete McTighe—will weave between episodes of classic Doctor Who to create 90-minute omnibus versions. It sounds like so much fun! But people outside of the UK, and more than that people who don’t pay for a television license fee, can’t watch them. You see, these are only available on the BBC iPlayer, the public broadcaster’s on-demand service. Only people who pay for a license fee and live in the UK can legally watch programming on this service.
In an Instagram post, Davies explained that he’s not sure when, or if, the Tales of the TARDIS episodes will ever make their way elsewhere.
This is the latest in a series of programming and distribution choices which have left many a bit confused. There, all of Doctor Who is on some BBC service. In North America, it’s a different story. So here’s a quick rundown of what episodes you can see on what service.
Brand New Doctor Who Will Be on Disney+
As we reported a year ago, starting with the three David Tennant specials, all subsequent Doctor Who episodes, and presumably specials, will stream on Disney+. This is a massive deal that will bring the show to the streamer day-and-date as it airs on BBC One in the UK. It’ll be on Disney+ everywhere else in the whole wide world (that has Disney+).
Classic Doctor Who Is Still on BritBox
BritBox, the global streamer the BBC and ITV went in on together, has been the home of classic series Doctor Who—a catalogue of nearly 700 episodes, including missing episode animation and reconstruction—since 2017. This also has a number of specials and ancillary material for your viewing pleasure. If you want to catch up on the first 26 seasons of the show, BritBox is the place to do it.
Where Is the Rest of Modern Doctor Who?
This is a little bit trickier. In the United States, Doctor Who from 2005 through 2022 is on Max. This is not the case for Canada, which has been without a streaming home of modern Doctor Who since January. The Max deal came from back in the halcyon HBO Max days when the WB-owned service wanted people to come to them for quality programming. Presumably, this is a deal that’s in place for the foreseeable future, but given how ephemeral Max programming is, we wouldn’t hold our breath that everything from the Ninth through Thirteenth Doctors will remain there forever. Where will it go after that? No idea.
That means, come November 25, you’ll need three separate streaming services to watch the whole of Doctor Who in the US. This is why I advocate for physical media, folks.