12 questions and some answers about Doctor Who spin-off Class

What's it about? Where is the Doctor? Will it only be online? Will there be hipsters? BBC3's new drama raises a lot of questions…

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Doctor Who is getting a new spin-off show – and it’s not about the Paternoster Gang. It’s called Class, and will air on BBC3 next year.

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There’s a limited amount of information about the series at this early stage, but we can certainly answer some of your questions, and pose some more of our own…


What’s it about?

On a basic level, it’s a spin-off show set in Coal Hill, the iconic Doctor Who school that we’ve seen various times throughout the show’s history and which, more recently, Clara teaches at.

According to the information released so far, “incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space, and with darkness coming, London is unprotected.” It promises “all the action, heart and adrenalin of the best YA fiction” and even references Buffy the Vampire Slayer, suggesting we are looking at a class of plucky teenagers against a host of monsters. 

Expanding on all that, writer Patrick Ness said, “I can’t wait for people to meet the heroes of Class, to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your A-Levels.”


Who could it star?

No word as yet but it’s no huge leap to assume that we’ll see the return of kids like Ellis George’s Courtney Woods, last seen in The Caretaker and Kill The Moon – and maybe that teacher who looks like Matt Smith. But what about the Doctor and Clara? Here are some further thoughts on characters and casting.


Will Peter Capaldi’s Doctor appear?

Nothing has been said, but you’d expect the Doctor to at least make a cameo. It is, after all, a Doctor Who spin-off. Then again, the synopsis did say that, “London is unprotected,” which suggests we may end up with a Torchwood situation, where the Earth is left to fend for itself without the Doctor’s help.


But wait, doesn’t Clara teach at Cole Hill school?

Good question. Yep, Clara is one of the teachers at Cole Hill school, but Jenna Coleman is also leaving later this series – making it highly unlikely that she will appear. Of course, this raises questions about Clara herself. Why wouldn’t she continue teaching after leaving the Tardis? (An early guess: DEATH.) 


Will it feature Doctor Who villains? 

We imagine so, although don’t go expecting any Daleks. If it’s anything like Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, you’ll get a recognisable Doctor Who baddie every so often for a treat, but it’ll mostly be – in the words of Ness – “all-new villains and aliens.”


Will we finally see Ian Chesterton? 

As referenced in the 50th anniversary special (above), Ian Chesterton, one of the Doctor’s first ever companions, is now Chairman of the Governors for Coal Hill school. But where is he? WE WANT IAN. BRING IAN BACK RIGHT NOW.


Will there be hipsters?

Class is set in Shoreditch, hipster capital of the world where you can find a restaurant that serves only breakfast cereal. The synopsis for the series tells us “London is unprotected”, suggesting that the adventures are likely to take us outside the school gates. This is going to be Waterloo Road meets Nathan Barley, right?


Who, exactly, is Patrick Ness?

Patrick Ness is an author of nine books, including six bestselling YA novels.  He has written the screenplay for his own novel, A Monster Calls, which has been filmed for release in 2016 and stars Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones. Described by John Green as ‘an insanely beautiful writer’ his works have an appeal with the Young Adult fiction audience. Find out more about Patrick Ness and his work here.


Does it involve Steven Moffat? 

Yep. He will acting as executive producer on the show, which he describes as, “growing up in modern Britain – but with monsters!”


Who will it be aimed at?

Sarah Jane Adventures was aimed at children, Torchwood was aimed at fans of sentient sex gas, so what kind of audience is Class for? It’d be easy to say that it’s pitched in the middle of those two spin-offs, but that’s basically Doctor Who, isn’t it? Which, itself, goes through various tones. Given the YA author, the channel and its influences, Class will probably be aimed at the same-ish audience, but for those who enjoy sillier episodes like The Caretaker – meaning that it might lend well to crossovers. In fact, we’d bet that – tone-wise – the only thing that will make it Young Adult is the fact that it will star young adults. But hey – Who knows? 


 If it’s airing next year on BBC3, does that mean it’ll be online-only?

Ah, yes. If Class is airing next year, then it’s possible it will not premiere on BBC3’s TV channel, which is currently scheduled to go online-only in January 2016. This, however, is still subject to the BBC Trust’s public consultation, which closed at the end of September. Given that Class is scheduled to shoot in Spring 2016, and will air later that year, it won’t be a launch show for BBC3’s online platform, but will probably be one of its flagship dramas. 


Will it air in America? 

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We don’t know when it will air in America, but according to Patrick Ness it definitely will. 

Meet Class creator Patrick Ness

Doctor Who and the history of Coal Hill School