Specific dates in Doctor Who Season 13, BBC's marketing, and scheduling

; Date: Mon Nov 29 2021

Tags: Doctor Who »»»» Doctor Who Season 13

The episodes of Season 13, The Flux, have named a few specific dates, which happened to be the date of transmission. There doesn't seem to be a special significance to those dates. But, because October 31, November 21, and December 5, were written into the scripts, the BBC knew the transmission dates months in advance. In November 2020, when the BBC announced the shortened season, it knew the exact dates, because those dates were inscribed in the episodes that began filming at the same time.

Source - BBC

Since the BBC knew the transmission dates for Season 13, why did they not start the marketing effort much earlier? Nobody knew anything about the episodes until maybe two weeks before the season started. The stunt with projecting Sontaran ships over Liverpool was on October 7, and the BBC didn't even announce the start of the season at that time.

How does the BBC expect the audience to care about a Doctor Who season if the BBC can't bother to tell anybody about the season ahead of time?

The season opener - The Halloween Apocalypse - was clearly set on October 31, 2021. The BBC knew this date months ahead of time, because filming was months ago. In Survivors of the Flux, Williamson says that starting on October 31 his tunnels started going screwy. BBC knew the October 31 date months ahead of time.

In The Village of Angels, the dates of November 21, 2021, November 21, 1967, and November 21, 1901, were all mentioned prominently. There was no doubt about these dates, which were explicitly mentioned, and the dates matched the time of broadcast.

In The Survivors of the Flux, we see Yaz, Dan, and The Professor, searching the world for clues as to a date when the End of the World is going to happen. We don't see them getting the information that The End of the World is due to come. In other words, why are they searching the world, and how did they know to look in an Aztec tomb that Archeologists had not found? We don't know. What they did find is a partial date for the End of the World, namely December 5. December 5 happens to be the transmission date for the final episode of The Flux.

Do these dates, October 31, November 21, and December 5, correspond to anything of significance? I went to Wikipedia to research any possible date correspondences.

  • A review of Doctor Who episode airing does not turn up strong correlations
    • November 23 would correspond to the anniversary of Doctor Who.
    • November 21, 1967, is a date in the middle of the six episodes of The Ice Warriors, which has no significance to The Flux episodes.
    • A close correspondence is the final episode of Old Who, episode 4 of Survival, which was aired on December 6, 1989.
    • Both November 21 and December 5 correspond to transmission dates of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, where the plot involved The Dalek's trying to steal The Earth to use it for some other scheme.
  • October 31 obviously corresponds to Halloween
  • November 21 doesn't correspond to world events that seem of significance to Doctor Who
    • A correspondence that the BBC almost certainly does not want to make is with the date of the John F Kennedy assassination. It's clearly a coincidence that the day before the first episode of Doctor Who, November 23, 1963, John F Kennedy was assassinated at Dealey Plaza in Dallas (November 22, 1963). But, November 21 is not November 22, and it would be strange for The BBC to try and draw a correlation to that event. It's better for the BBC to ignore the coincidence between the JFK assassination and the start of Doctor Who.
  • December 5 doesn't correspond to many world events. I don't think it's important to Doctor Who that on December 5, 2017, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics ostensibly for the 2014 incident where Russian athletes in 2014 were found to have used doping.

These dates, October 31, November 21, and December 5, don't seem to have any special significance to Doctor Who. Why were these dates put into the episodes? But more importantly, why were the BBC so cagey about the Season 13 schedule when they knew long in advance what the transmission dates would be?

A year ago, on November 11, 2020, the BBC announced that Season 13 would be "shortened", and that there might be eight episodes. Filming for Season 13 began in November 2020, or at the same time as that announcement.

We know the BBC knew the broadcast dates, because those dates were in the words filmed in the episode. It's also clear the BBC knew the overall shape of things, that 2021 would have six episodes from October 31 to December 5. These are dates spoken in the episodes, meaning they were filmed a year ago.

In November 2020, when they said Season 13 would be eight-ish episodes, I think we all assumed those would be aired in 2021. That's not how it's turning out, and more importantly the BBC knew very well in November 2020 that the episodes would be spread out over both 2021 and 2022.

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.