Steven Moffat chose his spot at the Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday to reveal that the 13 episodes of the 2011 series will be broadcast in two blocks, one from Easter and another from September. The Moff also tells us these shall consecutively be known as series six and seven (which is likely to prove as contentious as his initial claim that the 2010 series was to be known as series one). Just to confuse matters further series six will be seven episodes while series seven will be six episodes.
At first my feeling was dismay, but, certainly for next year, it makes sense. Not only do we have a particularly late Easter but it was officially announced the same weekend that a second series of "Sherlock" will be broadcast in Autumn 2011 and this will ease Moffat's shared commitments and deadlines. I suspect the proximity of these announcements is not a coincidence. I don't know what the future holds for "Merlin" if it goes to a fourth series - I presume they won't be ready to go out in spring or summer 2011 instead - more likely they will spill into January/February 2012.
So anyway, I worked out this will be the "Doctor Who" schedule for next year:
"Series Six" - 7 episodes starting 23 April (Easter Saturday) until 4 June
"Series Seven" - 6 episodes starting 4 September until 9 October
then the Christmas special in December.
I would fancy that this will still not satisfy the 'winter fetishists', especially if it's being broadcast before 7pm as it regularly was this year. If "Strictly Come Dancing" hasn't committed suicide this year, then series seven of "Doctor Who" will be the warm-up so 7pm starts would seem unlikely.
NB: photo courtesy of Richard Bacon on Twitter - he was the designated interviewer at the event.