Doctor Who is to get its first spin-off since the Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood went off the air.
Class will follow the pupils of Coal Hill School, where current companion Clara Oswald teaches: a present day London setting, but featuring the monsters and sci-fi weirdness fans know from Doctor Who.
“Incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space,” according to the announcement, “and with darkness coming, London is unprotected.”
The eight-part series will begin filming in spring 2016, with a broadcast date later in the year. It’s not yet known whether this will be before or after BBC3’s planned move online.
Class promises “all the action, heart and adrenalin of the best YA fiction,” with The Hunger Games and Buffy the Vampire Slayer referenced as an indication of tone. It’s being written by Young Adult author Patrick Ness, two time winner of the Carnegie Medal for children’s literature and known for books including the Chaos Walking trilogy.
Ness has adapted his novel A Monster Calls for a film starring Liam Neeson – also due to be released next year – but this will be his first television drama series.
“I’m astounded and thrilled to be entering the Doctor Who universe, which is as vast as time and space itself,” 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.”
Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat welcomed Ness to his playground: “No one has documented the dark and exhilarating world of the teenager like Patrick Ness, and now we’re bringing his brilliant story-telling into Doctor Who. This is growing up in modern Britain – but with monsters!”
A spin-off starring The Paternoster Gang – fan favourite characters who live in Victorian London – has long been rumoured/wished for among certain fan circles. However, Moffat has always dismissed the idea, saying “I’m always slightly worried that you can’t keep repeating the joke.”