It's bad enough that Americans have to wait a few weeks or months to watch Doctor Who episodes on BBC America after they've aired in the United Kingdom on BBC One, but we also have to endure edited versions: Though the show fills an hour in the U.K., it have to be cut by at least 15 minutes to accommodate commercials here.
Well, no more.
Garth Ancier, president of BBC America, announced Wednesday that BBC America will air unedited versions of Doctor Who and other series. The shows will still have commercials: They'll just exceed an hour all told. That's only for the premiere airing, of course.
"In order to keep the storylines intact on most of these shows now, on the premiere airing we don't do any cutting at all," Ancier said in a press conference in Pasadena, Calif., as part of the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "We just take the entire show, and we run over off the clock. That's what we've been doing, and that's what we're going to do for Doctor Who going forward. The audience seems to be following it, and that way we're not screwing up someone's vision, what they're trying to do, or screwing up story points."
Doctor Who producer Russell T Davies thanked Ancier for respecting the BBC run times, adding that David Tennant's final episode, "The End of Time," will push the schedule even further. "Actually, our very last episode, coming at Christmas, David's very last episode, is one hour and 15 minutes long," Davies revealed in the press conference.
That means with commercials, "Time" will require at least a 90-minute block. "At least an hour and a half, maybe [two]," Ancier replied. "It's great. We run off the clock. It's what the audience wants to see. We actually get complaints if we don't. They know the U.K. episodes somehow, and they don't like it when we take any of it out." (What, is Ancier suggesting that avid U.S. fans aren't waiting for the BBC America to air the show, but rather are bittorrenting the British episodes right off the Internet immediately after they air in the U.K.? Who would do such a thing?)
Expect BBC America airings to debut closer to BBC U.K. airings, too. Contractually, BBC America has to run after the U.K., but with schedules locked in in advance, they are able to schedule close enough to get the Christmas special around Christmas or New Year's Day.
"Doctor Who Christmas and New Year specials are such iconic things, they're locked on the schedule very early," Ancier said. "That allows us to put it on pretty quickly."