Yes, Disney is helping to finance Doctor Who, and it's one of the reasons Russell T. Davies returned to the show. Not long after Jodie Whittaker's final episode, the BBC announced that it had partnered with Disney to make Disney+ the streaming home of Doctor Who outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland in an attempt to build it into a stronger global brand. Since the announcement, rumors have swirled about Disney's investment in the show. Speaking to GQ, Davies confirms that Disney is helping to foot the show's bill.
"But now, it wasn't my idea, it was the BBC's notion to go for a streamer to invest in the show worldwide, which I completely agree with," Davies says, though he's quick to clarify that Doctor Who isn't getting the same money that one of Disney's own brands might. "We're not on the budget level with Star Wars and the Marvel shows. It's better than it was, yes yes yes. I mean any piece of television costs millions. We're not allowed to talk about budget, and we're not on that Star Wars or Star Trek level, but it's more than I've ever had to work with... it's not 10 million an episode. It's absolutely not. I wish it was, it'd make my life easier. But we're very clever at spending money, I think Doctor Who has learnt more tricks over the years than other shows have, perhaps."
But having that larger budget does change what Davies can do creatively. In fact, he says it's "one of the reasons I've come back — you can tell stories on a bigger scale. 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. It's just a joy to write anyway. I'm really proud of it. Oh my god, there are some strong episodes coming up."
In a statement at the time of the partnership's announcement, Davies said, "I love this show, and this is the best of both worlds – with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney+ together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the UK."
Doctor Who begins its tenure on Disney+ with the anniversary specials, set to debut in November.