At BBC America, the Doctor is finally in. The net has acquired the five “Doctor Who” specials that will finish showrunner Russell T. Davies’ run on the venerable Brit sci-fi franchise that starred David Tennant as the Doctor.
“The Next Doctor,” the series’ Christmas special, will air at 9 p.m. June 27, and the next spec (“Planet of the Dead”) is set for July. Dates and times for the final three shows are to be determined, but the next incarnation of the show is already in the works, with Steven Moffat (who worked on the Davies version) as showrunner and thesp Matt Smith as the Doctor.
“Doctor Who” has aired on Sci Fi for four seasons, with BBC America preeming Davies’ spinoff series “Torchwood” (which will continue) and running the parent show a season late. “Torchwood” will air as a five-episode cycle this year, as well, starting in July.
Due to a quirky international sales arrangement, BBC America will continue to air the U.S. preems of ITV’s dinosaur-filled sci-fi adventure series “Primeval” — “Doctor Who’s” chief ratings rival in the U.K., recently optioned for a bigscreen feature by Warners.
The net’s “Who”-centric summertime launches will segue into the rest of its sci-fi heavy lineup, which includes the previously announced fantasy series “Being Human” (six hourlongs, produced by Touchpaper TV and BBC America, starting July 25) about the relationships among three characters: a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost. The net has already made a deal for the not-yet-aired second season of the show.
Also on the sked: “Survivors,” which follows the last members of the human race after a deadly virus has wiped out 99% of the population.
BBC America doesn’t have a traditional upfront — the net acquires comparatively short seasons of Brit programs and airs them year-round, sometimes combining them to make a U.S.-length season. Because of the way BBC Worldwide is funded, BBC America has to outbid any interested Stateside nets, even for programming that appears on its sister network in the U.K. The unique structure has occasionally resulted in a success story for BBC America that has turned into a success story for another net when the time came to renew the show.
For “Doctor Who,” the reverse would appear to be true. The net has back a quintessentially British show that BBC Worldwide America prexy Garth Ancier wishes had always been on BBC America (he came onboard after the deal was made).
“If I’d been here,” Ancier said, “we wouldn’t have sold it, to be quite honest.”