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Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

#StayingintheTARDIS – Doctor Who’s lockdown initiative and response to COVID-19

Entered in Real Time Response


At the beginning of the 2020 lockdown in March, no one could have known what was going to happen. The world had gone into lockdown and people were encouraged to stay at home to protect themselves and their families. Doctor Who has often been a source of positivity, escapism and wonder for fans and younger viewers, so this provided an opportunity to launch Staying in the TARDIS – there are amazing things out there in the universe, but life at home can be an adventure too. 

This online haven had a combination of fresh video assets from the current incarnation of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, stories provided by current and former showrunners and writers of the show, licencees of Doctor Who providing free creative materials, and hosting and sharing the materials on the Doctor Who digital ecosystem. Together, it would provide a chance for audiences to be entertained and pass activities in order to stay safe with their favourite Time Lord.


Strategy and Execution

Staying in the TARDIS was launched by the Doctor Who social channels, which would lead seven weeks of free activities from the Doctor Who digital team, including challenges set by influencers, videos of encouragement from the Doctor, free content from Doctor Who licencees and stories from notable writers to entertain.

What kicked off the Staying in the TARDIS strategy was a message of hope from the Thirteenth Doctor – commented on by fans and parents saying that it was perfect to explain the pandemic to youngers viewers and audiences.

Identifying both emotional and practical barriers during lockdown, Staying in the TARDIS content focused on easily achievable, and more importantly, free, engaging activities to print out, download or stream. Twinned with social challenges, this created a wide range of Doctor Who activity for fans to immerse themselves in every week.

A weekly ‘drop’ took place across the official Doctor Who website and social media channels. This flagged new activities, recipes and free audio dramas, books and comics, but also featured the fan interaction point: a new creative challenge to take on. These challenges were designed for any fan to be able to take part in – Design your own Doctor costume, Create a Doctor Who monster and Cook your own Doctor Who food took fans searching through their wardrobes, building monsters out of items at home, and being creative in the kitchen. These were then shared on social media, with fans interacting with each other’s creations utilizing the hashtag #StayingintheTARDIS. One was even set by popular influencer Joe Sugg

Utilising our existing digital platforms and their following, Staying in the TARDIS successfully lived via digital means only. The project itself was planned and put live in just under three weeks, which highlights the massive collaborative effort from the Digital Marketing team at BBC Studios along with licensees including Big Finish Productions, Titan Comics, Penguin Random House UK, BBC Books and BBC Audio, all who offered a wide range of content to share for free – without which the initiative would not have been possible. By highlighting products from our commercial licensees for free, we also hoped that audiences would be further invested in newer products in future. Notable Doctor Who writers and showrunners also contributed to the online initiative, providing free and exclusive stories to entertain and distract whilst in lockdown.

The 7-week long programme, hosted on the global Doctor Who website ( provided FREE content, refreshed weekly, that connected fans and immersed them in the world of Doctor Who during a state of lockdown.


Staying in the TARDIS was a purely organic campaign that amassed a reach of 28 million across social, saw 278k page views on the website, 8.4k submissions to weekly fan challenges and 196k clicks to content and products. We had national press coverage from the Radio Times, Hello! and Nerdist and we worked together with influencer and fan Joe Sugg to reach a further 5.4 million by setting and taking part in two challenges.

The initiative successfully linked up our entire digital eco-system, with support from regional, licensee accounts and from BBC America. We will take this period of experimentation and licensee engagement as a learning for many campaigns in future.


Video for #StayingintheTARDIS – Doctor Who’s lockdown initiative and response to COVID-19

Entrant Company / Organization Name

BBC Studios


Entry Credits