Doctor Who Announces Major First For BBC iPlayer

The BBC is giving us all classic Doctor Who, plus spin-offs like The Sarah Jane Adventures and Doctor Who Confidential, as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations.

Doctor Who 50th anniversary composite
Photo: BBC

There truly has never been a better time to be a Doctor Who fan.

Not only do we have the three long-awaited 60th anniversary episodes mere weeks away (even if we are still waiting on an official release date beyond “November!”), we’re then getting the return of the Doctor Who festive special with a brand-new Doctor and companion on the way in Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson, not to mention the shiny new series 14 launching some time in 2024.

But in the mean time, the surprise 60th anniversary celebration announcements keep on coming – and the BBC’s latest Doctor Who news is a biggie:

The Entire Doctor Who Back Catalogue Is Coming To BBC iPlayer!

From 1st November, BBC iPlayer will host over 800 episodes of Doctor Who, including all the classic series from the very first Doctor, William Hartnell, right the way through to the 1996 TV movie with Paul McGann

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It’s the first time the classic series have been added to BBC iPlayer, but the BBC have confirmed the classic series will still remain on BritBox and ITVX’s Premium subscription service.

The BBC will also add spin-offs like the CBBC drama The Sarah Jane Adventures, John Barrowman and Eve Myles’ series Torchwood, 2016 school drama Class, and the behind-the-scenes show Doctor Who Confidential to BBC iPlayer.

In even better news, the BBC has confirmed that every Doctor Who episode on iPlayer will be available with multiple accessibility options, including subtitles, audio description, and sign language.

The Doctor Who Archive Arrives Online

At the same time as this extensive back catalogue arrives on BBC iPlayer, the Doctor Who website will also launch a huge online archive celebrating the show’s history.

This will include curated journeys through the archive to bring the show’s extensive history to life for fans, including cast interviews, audio, photography, and written documents. One of the sections centres on the genesis of Doctor Who, featuring audio from former Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, alongside documents with his original handwritten notes giving us an insight into how the show originally came to life.

Over time, more content will be added to the archive, selected from over 25,000 images and 100,000 documents spanning the full 60 years of Doctor Who’s history. It will give fans an unprecedented insight into the show, with access to all areas throughout the years, including memos, correspondence, designs, and audience research, alongside orchestral scores of sheet music.

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We’ll also be able to listen to a selection of Doctor Who audio clips, ranging from radio programmes and documentaries to interviews and music.

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Documentary – and a Concert

The BBC also announced that Jo Whiley will present a new two-part radio documentary, Radio 2 Celebrates Doctor Who at 60, which will arrive on both BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 2 on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd October. 

The first episode will focus on classic Doctor Who, while the second will celebrate the modern era, and the documentary will include new interviews with current showrunner Russell T Davies and past showrunners Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall

There will also be archive interviews with key cast members including all the modern-era Doctors, plus Sophie Aldred, Bonnie Langford, Sylvester McCoy, John Simm, Billie Piper and new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa.

Whiley will also present Doctor Who @60: A Musical Celebration which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday 15th October from 8pm, and will be filmed and broadcast on the BBC at a later date. The concert includes a world-exclusive first live performance of the theme tune of the Fifteenth Doctor called “Fifteenth”, and the new iteration of the Doctor Who theme tune reimagined by composer Murray Gold.

The classic Doctor Who series and spin-offs, plus the online archive, arrive on Wednesday 1st November. Doctor Who returns to BBC One and Disney+ in November 2023.

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