The BBC and “Doctor Who” showrunner Steven Moffat have confirmed today that the upcoming 13-episode sixth season of the series will be split into two blocks to air several months apart.
The split is the result of a request from Moffat to write a new story arc which involves a big plot twist in the middle of the season. Said twist will serve as a mid-season cliffhanger to be resolved in the second half of the season.
The move is not unexpected, various U.S. cable shows like “Burn Notice,” “Stargate” and “Battlestar Galactica” have employed a similar technique, airing half their seasons in Summer, the rest in Winter.
With ‘Who’ the shows will have a Spring/Autumn cycle with seven episodes kicking off around Easter, the next six sometime in the Fall plus the annual Christmas Special.
The BBC had various scheduling issues with the series this past season. Too many competing shows, better than expected weather, the World Cup and constantly shifting earlier than usual timeslots led to many complaints and a slight dip in initial broadcast viewing numbers.
The show has finished shooting its upcoming Christmas Special and is about to get underway on production of the sixth season. Neil Gaiman confirmed the other day that a table read for the script of his episode takes place later this week.