How ‘Star Trek’ Streaming Success Influenced ‘Doctor Who’ Showrunner Russell T. Davies to Return

“It was time for the next stage,” Davies said of the long-running series, which will air on Disney+ for the first time

Doctor Who Star Trek Discovery
"Doctor Who," "Star Trek Discovery" and showrunner Russell T. Davies (Getty)

“Doctor Who” showrunner Russell T. Davies has revealed why he returned to helm the BBC series more than a decade after he handed over the reins – and how the “Star Trek” franchise ties into it.

“Partly, it’s simply that I love it and always have loved it,” the veteran writer-producer told GQ in a Jan. 27 profile. “But the world has changed. And we’re now in the age of the streamer.”

For the first time ever, Disney+ will air the upcoming season of “Doctor Who” in the U.S., rather than the BBC, which has broadcast the series since its first inception in 1963. The new partnership means a much larger budget and spin-off potential, Davies said – two major advantages that were not available before the streaming era.

“There’s a problem with the BBC, it’s a public service broadcaster, so there’s only so much they’ll ever commit to,” he explained. “So I thought — with no criticism whatsoever towards the people who were running it at the time, because they were running it within the BBC’s measures — it was time for the next stage for ‘Doctor Who.’”

Davies, who helmed the series from 2005 until 2010, pointed to the “Star Trek ’empire’” as an example of a franchise “that’s turned itself from an old archive show into something fantastic.”

“The cast is so progressive, so good, so beautiful,” he said. “And very cleverly I think ‘Star Trek’ is reaching out to making something like 52 episodes a year.”

Without disclosing any numbers (“We’re not allowed to talk about budget, and we’re not on that ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’ level”), Davies said the season’s budget is “more than I’ve ever had to work with.”

He cited the expanded resources as a major reason for coming back. “You can tell stories on a bigger scale,” he said. “It’s the same old problems, I still have to cut scenes because they’re too expensive, and I still have to reduce the number of monsters, and things like that. But my imagination feels more free, a lot more free, actually.”

Davies also gushed over Ncuti Gatwa, who was named the 14th Doctor in May 2022.

“Last night we had Ncuti [Gatwa]’s first read-through,” he revealed. “He’s so unbelievably stunning. I can’t wait for you to see him. He just lifts your hair off your head. He’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, in every sense. So, very excited.”

“Doctor Who” returns Nov. 23 for a special celebrating the show’s 60th anniversary, with the new season expected to air in 2024.