Why is Doctor Who series 14 being rebooted as season 1?

The BBC series is entering a new era with Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor

Doctor Who (BBC)
Doctor Who will soon return to screens on BBC One and iPlayer, but it is being marked as season one rather than series 14. (BBC)

Doctor Who will soon be back on our screens, but longtime fans might notice something strange about the forthcoming episodes led by Ncuti Gatwa — they're being billed as 'season one'.

The reason this may come as a surprise is because the series is part of the New Who era and Gatwa follows in the footsteps of a long line of actors from Christopher Eccleston to Jodie Whittaker. The BBC show's first series aired back in 1963 and was rebooted with a new 'series one' back in 2005 but, even so, it's time for a third 'first' season.

It's a wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimey conundrum that could baffle even the Time Lord himself, but here is what we know about the reasoning behind the change.

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023,25-12-2023,The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa),BBC,Nwaka Okparaeke
Ncuti Gatwa's forthcoming series is part of the New Who era, but is being marked as season one as part of a rebrand to not intimidate newcomers to the franchise. (BBC)

Gatwa's time as the Doctor follows on from the 60th anniversary episodes where David Tennant returned to play the Fourteenth Doctor. His upcoming episodes has mostly been referred to by fans as series 14 because it follows on from series 13 starring Whittaker, however his first full season is now seen as a blank slate for the franchise.

It may seem like an odd decision given very little time has passed since Whittaker's last season as the Fifteenth Doctor, but the reasoning for this is simple: it's a rebrand.

Gatwa's first season as the Doctor marks the beginning of a new agreement between the BBC and Disney+, which will be the home for the show outside of the UK. With this new era comes the possibility of new fans discovering the series, and they'll likely be less intimidated to start the show if they think it's the 'first' season.

Watch the trailer for Doctor Who season one:

Showrunner Russell T Davies, who was the brains behind the programme's original return in 2005, has suggested this much in previous interviews.

Read more: Doctor Who's biggest season 14 mysteries from Mrs Flood to Ruby's mother

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Davies said: "Who is interested in Season 67, or whatever it is? It genuinely starts again. The reason why it’s survived for all these years is that every so often, Doctor Who stops, opens the door and refreshes itself, and gets a new audience in."

The writer reiterated this sentiment in an interview with SFX Magazine, where he remarked that the decision was made: "Because people are beginning to ask 'Why is there no Disney push behind this?' That's coming in [Redacted]. Ooh, we're not supposed to say [Redacted], are we? Next year, season one. Yes, we're calling it season one."

When asked about the rebranding, showrunner Russell T Davies said: 'Who is interested in Season 67, or whatever it is? It genuinely starts again.' (BBC)
When asked about the rebranding, showrunner Russell T Davies said: 'Who is interested in Season 67, or whatever it is? It genuinely starts again.' (BBC)

Despite being given the soft reboot treatment —which feels like the best way to describe this rebrand— the show won't be ignoring what came before it, in fact the opposite is true.

There are nods and references to important storylines that were introduced in Davies' first era as showrunner, as well as Steven Moffatt and Chris Chibnall's time in the position. So there will be plenty of reason for newcomers to venture further back into the franchise's history should they wish.

Thanks to the BBC they can choose to start with the New Who era or even go all the way back to the Classic Who era. The Whoniverse will be ready and waiting.

Doctor Who season one premieres on BBC iPlayer at midnight on Saturday, 11 May, and the double-bill premiere will air from 6.20pm on BBC One.