What I Like About Who: No. 2

This is the second column in a weekly series from Rob Hull, Figures and More. Check back Mondays for a weekly journey through time and space, or read all of our adventures here

The buzzword for the upcoming series of Doctor Who is “change”—and if you ask me, change is exactly what is called for. It’s no secret in the Whovian community that the show has become a bit stale and somewhat formulaic in recent seasons, and it did not help that the last two episodes of the last season featured a somewhat convoluted plot involving characters who switched affiliations several times.

So, BBC is shaking things up in some pretty major ways, and we are ready for what’s to come.

THE DOCTOR

Obviously, the biggest change in the latest season of Doctor Who is in the role of the Doctor. The magnificent Peter Capaldi steps aside and history is made. In just a few short weeks, Jodie Whittaker will become the first ever FEMALE DOCTOR! It is a moment 55 years in the making, and one that cannot come soon enough for most fans. My favorite part of this whole momentous occasion is the trailer BBC released of the Thirteenth Doctor literally shattering a glass ceiling. It is one of the most brilliant pieces of tongue-in-cheek marketing I have ever seen. For the part, Jodie has said that she is not playing the role as male or female, but just as a character.

THE COMPANION(S)

Yes, there is an s at the end of that headline. That is because, for the first time in a long time, the Doctor will have three companions. Graham, an older white male; Ryan, a young black man; and Yasmin, a young middle eastern woman. In one of the trailers, the Doctor is shown asking, “will you be my new best friends?” And, that is the extent of the relationship between the Doctor and her companions this time around. Showrunner Chris Chibnall has unequivocally stated that there will be “no romantic involvement between the Doctor and her companions.”

THE TARDIS

Significant, yet subtle changes have been made to the TARDIS exterior, while staying faithful to its familiar look. The only thing we know for sure about the interior is that it will be completely new, since the previous console room exploded at the end of Twice Upon a Time.

SONIC SCREWDRIVER

As we now know, since it was unveiled at San Diego Comic Con by Jodie Whittaker herself, the Thirteenth Doctor will have a new Sonic Screwdriver. It has a more streamlined, steampunk-inspired design, with a rotating crystal at the top, which glows orange when activated. Why does it rotate? I have no idea. Though, I personally love the new design, which actually reminds me of Count Dooku’s elegant curved lightsaber in the Star Wars prequel films.

New Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall Photo: Digital Spy

THE SHOWRUNNER

One of the big behind-the-scenes changes is the arrival of a new showrunner. All aspects of the production of an episode are overseen by the showrunner. Beginning this year, that job belongs to Chris Chibnall. Among the most significant changes he has made is the decision not to feature ANY familiar enemies, including the Daleks and the Cyberman in Jodie’s first season.

THE PRODUCTION

Finally, there are a few changes to how the show will be presented that should be mentioned. The series will be shorter, totaling only 10 episodes, but the episodes will be longer, clocking in at 50 minutes each, with the first episode being an hour long. Also, Chibnall has confirmed that each episode will be a self-contained story, with no multi-part episodes in this season. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, Doctor Who will move from its longtime placement on Saturdays, to Sunday night.

Yes, there are a lot of changes coming to Doctor Who this year, but I honestly believe they are all for the betterment of the show. So, take a chance and jump on board. Because, as the Doctor herself says in the teaser trailer “This is gonna be fun.”


DID WHO KNOW?

  • When Russell T. Davies brought the show back in 2005, he purposefully held off reintroducing the Daleks as long as possible, fearing he would “ruin” them.
  • The idea of the Doctor possibly being a woman dates back to the ’80s and the end of Tom Baker’s time as the Fourth Doctor. When he was leaving the role, he made the comment that his replacement should be a woman. That didn’t happen, and instead we had the incredible Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor.
  • Female Time Lords (Time Ladies, thank you very much) are nothing new to the series. In the Classic Era, we famously had Romana and the Rani, and in the New Series Era, we have Missy and the General on Gallifrey.
  • The last time the Doctor had three steady companions travelling in the TARDIS was in the era of the Fifth Doctor, when he traveled with Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. But, the very first instance of three companions was the First Doctor himself, who traveled with Susan, Barbara, and Ian.