All of Doctor Who is finally coming to BBC iPlayer

The BBC is releasing its grip on its cash cow.


Today the BBC announced it will finally add every available classic episode of Doctor Who, and all of its spin-offs, to iPlayer. It’s the culmination of work which began when Russell T. Davies returned as the show’s major creative force, and a significant change for the BBC. In a statement, it said every episode of the classic series, plus spin-offs like The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood and Class, as well as making-of series Doctor Who Confidential, would all be added on November 1st.

All of Doctor Who’s post-2005 revival series are widely-available on streaming services both in the UK and abroad. But the original run has rarely, if ever, been on-demand without an extra charge, as it’s still one of the BBC’s most reliable cash-cows. The series has been released on VHS, DVD and now Blu-ray, with several of its most recent releases requiring multiple printings. The only place to stream Doctor Who on-demand, at least with a clean conscience, is by paying for BritBox’s premium streaming service.

As part of the release, the BBC is making a point of the new accessibility features — including every episode featuring sign language translation — and that a new archive of material will also be put online on the official Doctor Who website. It's not clear, at this point, if this will include the hours upon hours of special documentaries and behind-the-scenes material that comes with the show's numerous DVD and Blu-ray releases.

The change comes as the show builds up to its 60th anniversary later that same month, as the show stops being a purely BBC production. Instead, it’s being made by Bad Wolf productions with cash backing from Disney, which will stream the show on Disney+ outside the UK. It’s pure speculation on my part, but if the BBC has cleared any issues that prevented it from streaming all of Doctor Who in the UK, then the whole series may also be available on Disney+ at the same time.