BBC to offer binaural Doctor Who episode

The BBC is making a special binaural episode of Doctor Who with an alternate version that will feature “a 3D surround sound effect for anyone wearing headphones, placing them at the heart of the action in this nail-biting episode.”

The upcoming episode – the fourth in the 10th series of the show – is written by Mike Bartlett and is titled Knock Knock.

The audio for the Doctor’s upcoming adventure, which features scuttling termites and promises to be a ‘very creepy and scary episode’, will be manipulated so that it appears to be coming from anywhere in three-dimensional space, including behind, above and below the listener.

The BBC has made numerous pieces of binaural content available to its audiences in recent years, including two immersive ‘Fright Night’ dramas on Radio 4 for Halloween 2015, the Turning Forest which was premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in New York, and several interactive digital pieces for BBC Taster including Unearthed, in collaboration with the Natural History Unity and Realise.

BBC Research & Development also rigged an additional microphone array at the Royal Albert Hall for the 2016 season of the Proms and used it to record 3D sound. The team used the new mic array and the existing complement of Radio 3 microphones to create binaural mixes of some Proms performances.

The synopsis for Knock Knock has been released by the BBC:

‘Bill is moving in with some friends and they’ve found the perfect house – so what if it’s strangely cheap to rent, and the landlord is a little creepy?The wind blows, the floorboards creak, and the Doctor thinks something is very wrong. What lurks in the strange tower at the heart of the building – and why can’t they find any way to enter it?’

The episode will be released on the BBC iPlayer catch-up service in two versions – one offering the binaural effect – after it initially airs on BBC One at 7.20pm on Saturday 6 May.

The BBC is yet to reveal whether viewers will get the same effect listening through surround-sound speakers.

(Photo Credit: BBC)