BBC executive Piers Wenger teases future of Doctor Who

Posted Dec 1, 2010 by Mathew Wace Peck
Piers Wenger, one of the executive producers of Doctor Who, has been speaking about what the future holds for the BBC’s popular science-fiction drama series.
The eleventh Doctor  Matt Smith  prepares for his first Doctor Who Christmas special  A Christmas Ca...
The eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, prepares for his first Doctor Who Christmas special, A Christmas Carol
BBC Publicity
In a little over three weeks’ time, the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special will be broadcast – on Christmas Day (25 December) in the UK and the US, and on Boxing Day (26 December) in Australia.
The story – A Christmas Carol, by Steven Moffat – is the sixth Christmas special episode to be screened since Doctor Who returned to TV screens in 2005, but the first to star Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor.
Smith's predecessor, David Tennant (Single Father) took the lead role in the previous specials, all of which were written by Moffat’s predecessor as showrunner – Russell T Davies (Torchwood).
While most people have been looking forward to A Christmas Carol – which will see Sir Michael Gambon (Harry Potter) and the mezzo-soprano singer Katherine Jenkins join the regular cast – Crave Online have been quizzing Wenger on what viewers can expect from the two series in 2011 and the show’s future beyond.
During the interview, Wenger said:
Well [. . .] you know we’ve got the pressure up after the success of the last season. We really have to raise the bar. Steven has written a two-parter, which will be the first season opening two-parter since the series came back in 2005, and it’s all set in the [United States]. The [production] went to the States [to Utah] to film the American locations for that two-parter.
I’m particularly dying to see that one. I think it’s going to be the most ambitious season opener that Doctor Who has seen for the last five or six years.
Since 2004, Doctor Who production has been based in Wales, in the UK, where most of the filming takes place. However, during its 47-year history, a number of stories have been filmed in other countries, including Lanzarote (Planet of Fire), Spain (The Two Doctors), Italy (The Fires of Pompeii) and Croatia (The Vampires of Venice and Vincent and the Doctor).
Asked whether there were any immediate plans to film in other countries other than the recent US shoot, Wenger said it was always an option to be considered. He said:
Not currently. Although, we are nothing if not opportunistic. If an opportunity to do so would arrive, we would probably take it. Or if it would bring something new to an episode and give it a completely new landscape.
We’re open to that because we’re always pushing it.
Wenger also elaborated on why there were to be two (albeit shorter) series next year instead of the usual one, saying:
[It] was basically driven by the story that Steven had in his head. It had a big [story] in the middle of it and I think [Steven] spoke to the drama commissioner of the BBC about that where he figured, “Why not build a [structure] that really built to it?”
It was an excellent opportunity to really get the audience hooked by making it an end of season cliffhanger. We get a three-month hiatus between the first part and the second part [. . .] You’re never more than three months away from the next Doctor Who.
However, Wenger is currently unsure whether or not this “two series per year” schedule will continue beyond 2011.
After the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, the series will return for seven episodes around Easter 2012, six episodes in the autumn (fall) and again for another one-off Christmas story.
In 2013, the series will celebrate its 50th anniversary, something the BBC has already begun to plan for.