To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Programme, the largest collection of Doctor Who, over eight hundred episodes, will become available on BBC iPlayer with multiple accessibility features for the first time.
Before the anniversary specials air in November, viewers will have the opportunity to travel back in time with any of the Doctors through the show’s 60-year history with the classic series, as well as explore the vast world of Doctor Who with spin-offs like The Sarah Jane Adventures, Torchwood and Class, or step behind-the-scenes with every episode of Doctor Who Confidential – all available in one place – BBC iPlayer.
“I’m so excited for new viewers – imagine being 8 years old, spending winter afternoons exploring the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond,” showrunner Russell T Davies remarked. “And we’re determined this won’t be a dusty museum – we have exciting plans to bring the back catalogue to life, with much more to be revealed!”
Update: On 17 October, 2023, the BBC released a statement via Radio Times that the first four Doctor Who episodes titled An Unearthly Child will not be included because the BBC doesn’t hold all the rights to them.
As a companion to the back catalogue, the BBC will simultaneously launch an extensive online archive from the show’s history on their BBC Doctor Who website, with everything from interviews with cast to written documents, long unheard audio, and behind-the-scenes photos, telling the story of the ground-breaking series through 60 categories.
The archive invites fans to delve even deeper into the show with curated journeys such as the genesis of Doctor Who, where audio from former Head of Drama, Sydney Newman alongside documents with his original handwritten notes guide you through the origins of Doctor Who.
Classic series returning to iPlayer
Episodes from Doctor Who’s extensive back catalogue of classic programmes will join the post 2005 revival of the show, available for fans to watch on iPlayer for the first time, and enabling them to revisit the Doctor’s formative adventures and some of the series greatest moments. This includes First Doctor William Hartnell’s first encounter with the Daleks, the first episodes made for colour TV with Third Doctor Jon Pertwee, and fan favourites from Fourth Doctor Tom Baker’s iconic run, including City of Death and The Brain of Morbius. Also included is the 1996 TV movie with Paul McGann, featuring him taking over from Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy.
Every available episode on iPlayer from the back catalogue will include with multiple accessibility options, including subtitles, audio description, and sign language.
New online archive
In its beginning stages, this new site will feature curated journeys through the archive to bring the show’s extensive history to life for fans – with items like interviews with cast members, news pieces, audio, imagery, and written documents.
Over time, more content will be added to the archive including a special collection of photos that have been scanned at 8k resolution from an estimated total of 25,000 prints, negatives, slides and digital images, which will give an unprecedented insight into the show with access to all areas throughout the years.
The expanded archive will also feature additional gems from over 100,000 documents, including memos, correspondence, designs, and audience research, alongside orchestral scores of sheet music.
Also being added is a selection of audio clips about Doctor Who, including radio programmes, documentaries, interviews, and music.
BBC iPlayer’s back catalogue and the online archive will launch on 1 November.