DOCTOR WHO FLUX AIRS 31.10.2021 ON BBC ONE Time Made Of Strawberries
Image credit: BBC, BBC Studios

Inside the tensest 24 hours in Doctor Who fandom as fans ask #WhereIsDoctorWho?

By Mélissa M Azombo

Last Friday evening, the official Doctor Who website and social media accounts disappeared from cyberspace in what proved to be the greatest marketing stunt of the century.

On Friday 8 October at 18h00, Doctor Who fans asked #WhereIsDoctorWho as they noticed the hit sci-fi TV show was nowhere to be found online. With the series in the midst of a hiatus with an unknown release date, Whovians had grown accustomed to asking “when is Doctor Who?”. This was the day it got replaced as the most popular question in the fandom. One by one, reports came in of the show’s official Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts being inaccessible. Soon, the same was shown to be true for their website.

While the official Doctor Who Tumblr page run by BBC America reportedly remained active, all social media accounts managed by BBC Studios through Falcon Social Media stayed inactive well into the night. It was unclear how long this would go on for or if Doctor Who would ever return to the internet at all. Their last tweet: “CAN YOU HEAR ME?” gave no clues.

By the morning of the following day, Doctor Who remained offline and those who had previously wondered if it was just a technical issue began to wonder if it was actually a marketing strategy instead – in which case, many questionned it.

It was on Saturday 9 October that the show’s lead character, The Doctor, seemed to make a breakthrough in communications via none other than the Telegram app, where she explained she had been banned from the internet. Yikes!

The Doctor Telegram Doctor Who Flux Time Made Of Strawberries
Official or Unofficial? The Doctor seems to be reaching out via Telegram amidst Doctor Who social media blackout on Saturday 9 October.

Clearly The Doctor was in some sort of trouble, struggling to get through. So, she did what she does best – called on humans to stay vigilant and let her know if we’d seen anything suspicious. Liverpudlians were invited to call the phone number 0800 678 3110 displayed on electronic billboards. Phoning led to The Doctor’s answerphone (she’s a busy woman!) where fans were encouraged to leave a voicemail if they had seen anything suspicious.

Well, they didn’t disappoint, though how many phone calls and voicemails came into the line within just the first hour, by the end of Saturday and to date, is anyone’s guess. Time Made Of Strawberries has contacted the BBC Press Office for further information on this but the Doctor Who team has not responded at the time of writing. An update will be posted as soon as it’s available. Regardless, the excitement was alive on Twitter as fans posted recordings of The Doctor’s voicemail greeting. The phone line is no longer active but it was all the buzz when it was. 

If anything, this shows the hype that going offline generated for Doctor Who. So, it was time to complete the marketing strategy and make the much-awaited comeback to cyberspace that fans had been eagerly waiting for.

The official Doctor Who social media accounts returned in style. With a darker, more autumnal shade of orange in their logo and a “DOCTOR WHO: FLUX” header and name change, they graced fans with a teaser of the upcoming series.

Doctor Who: Flux will be the thirteenth series of Doctor Who. Starring Jodie Whittaker in her last adventure as The Doctor, alongside Mandip Gill (Yaz), John Bishop (Dan) and Game Of Thrones’ Jacob Anderson (Vinder), it will feature 6 one-hour weekly episodes.

All episodes are written by Chris Chibnall except for one, which is co-written by Maxine Alderton (Doctor Who: Series12: The Haunting Of Villa Diodati).

This will also be Chibnall’s last season as Doctor Who Showrunner, with alum Russel T Davies announced to be reprising this role for at least the 60th anniversary and series 14.

Taylor Swift may have invented clearing your social media for a new era but Doctor Who just stepped it up one level and invented completely disappearing for another era.

The new era of Doctor Who starts with “Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse” on Halloween (31.10.2021) on BBC One at 18h25 GMT/ 19H25 CET. The following episode’s title has been confirmed to be “Chapter Two: The Sontaran War”.

Check out the trailer of what’s to come, originally premiered on The Graham Norton Show on Friday 15 October 2021 with Jodie Whittaker.