Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor and her new Tardis team are coming soon to a TV screen near you.
But what exactly can we expect from Doctor Who under the control of new showrunner Chris Chibnall? Much will remain a mystery until the series finally lands, but here’s everything we do know about Doctor Who series 11…
“New Doctor, new home!” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a release.
“Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is about to burst into Sunday nights — and make the end of the weekend so much more exciting.
“Get everybody’s homework done, sort out your Monday clothes, then grab some special Sunday night popcorn, and settle down with all of the family for Sunday night adventures across space and time. (Also, move the sofa away from the wall so parents can hide behind it during the scary bits). The Thirteenth Doctor is falling from the sky and it’s going to be a blast.”
Given the start date, the series 11 finale will probably air on Sunday 9th December, meaning there’s only a short wait before the 2018 Christmas special on the 25th December (see below).
At the moment plot details of the new series are a closely-guarded secret, but we may assume the first 60-minute episode will follow Whittaker’s Doctor after she falls from the skies at the end of the 2017 Christmas special, explaining her survival and following her attempts to track down her newly-exploded Tardis.
Shots from the first trailer suggest the Doctor struggles with her post-regeneration state and also gets crafty, welding together a piece of technology that we believe might be the new sonic screwdriver….
Still, we do definitely know one thing about the first episode – it’s going to be called The Woman Who Fell to Earth, leading directly on from the last episode’s cliffhanger while also playing tribute to some classic sci-fi, as we’ve explained elsewhere.
Just a couple of months before series 11’s airing it was finally revealed which writers were working on the series alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall, with acclaimed author Malorie Blackman (best known for novels like Nought and Crosses and Pig Heart Boy) probably the best-known name among them.
She’s joined by Skins writer Ed Hime, Doctors and Casualty writer/playwright Joy Wilkinson, Murdered by My Father writer Vinay Patel and experienced screenwriter Pete McTighe, who is probably best known for being the “originating writer” on popular Australian drama Wentworth.
“We have a team of writers who’ve been working quietly and secretly for a long time now, crafting characters, worlds and stories to excite and move you,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a release.
“Hailing from a range of backgrounds, tastes and styles, here’s what unites them: they are awesome people as well as brilliant at their job. (It matters!) They love Doctor Who. And they’ve all worked above and beyond the call of duty in an effort to bring audiences something special, later this year.”
Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall is taking over the series from ex-Head Writer Steven Moffat, having previously written several episodes including The Power of Three, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, 42 and Silurian two-parter The Hungry Earth/ Cold Blood. He was also the de facto Head Writer during the first two series of Who spin-off Torchwood, writing episodes including Day One, Cyberwoman, Countrycide, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Exit Wounds.
It is assumed that Chibnall will write five episodes for the new series, while the newly-announced series 11 writers (none of whom have worked on the sci-fi series before) will make up the other five.
We’re also expecting a more extensive remodel of the Tardis interior following its destruction at the end of Twice Upon a Time, which was teased as a “crazy” redesign by concept artist Darren Fereday.
Later, when low-quality images of the new interior leaked online production designer Arwel Jones said he was “incandescent with rage” and “livid”.
However, what really made him mad was “the fact that it’s a dreadful photo, taken by someone with no hint of artistry & unlit.”
Hopefully we’ll be getting a better look at the interior very soon.
Is there a trailer for the new series?
Yes – there are two. A special teaser trailer was aired during the 2018 World Cup final that introduced the new Doctor and her companions, with footage showing the Time Lord’s influence (depicted as golden regeneration energy) invigorating and changing her Tardis team’s lives before Whittaker herself emerged with a smile.
You can watch the teaser (which doesn’t contain footage from the series) above – and keep an eye out for that Beano Easter Egg…
And now the first full trailer for the series has debuted as well, showing off Whittaker and her Tardis team in action. Check it out now!
Is there a new sonic screwdriver?
There is, and it looks very different. Created by series designer Arwel Jones, the new screwdriver has a more traditionally sci-fi look than some recent versions, and appears to have been made from scratch by Whittaker’s Doctor.
The new incarnation of the gadget has a curved handle that’s slightly separate from the main screwdriver, containing stripped lights to match the LED light on the end. It’s coloured silver with dark cracks through it, and fits neatly in Whittaker’s hand.
In another interesting change, the light on the new screwdriver is an orange-y colour – different from the lighter blues and greens of more recent versions of the gadget, though other colours have appeared in the series’ run – while the LED itself appears more organic and crystalline, perhaps hinting at the source of the screwdriver’s power.
“It’s a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic sonic screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences,” designer Arwel Jones said in a release.
“I can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it!”
What will the new series be like?
While we haven’t seen any of it yet, according to Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who series 11 will be “hopeful and fizzing with wonder“, while confirming some crucial elements of the story will remain.
“This is Doctor Who, so we know there will be a Tardis, a sonic screwdriver – and me and my new friends [which is what companions are now called],” she told Radio Times in an exclusive interview.
“We’ve all had the best time making it, so hopefully you don’t hate it!”
“It’s going to be exciting, emotional and the most enormous fun,” Chibnall added.
More recently, executive producer Matt Strevens said the new episodes were “a box of chocolates of a series,” explaining that “there’s something different in every episode.”
Will there be a 2018 Doctor Who Christmas special?
There will indeed!
New showrunner Chris Chibnall confirmed the return of the special at San Diego Comic-Con, also revealing that the episode will come in addition to the already-announced 10 episodes, meaning we’re getting even more Doctor Who than we expected in 2018.
“We seem to be filming 11 episodes, and it’s only a series of 10,” Chibnall joked during a press conference, with executive producer Matt Strevens chiming in: “I don’t know what happened. It’s a show about space and time, so it’s all quite abstract.”
“I would definitely think there’s another episode after the end of the series, yeah,” Chibnall concluded.
So all that worry was over nothing. Phew!
Which monsters will appear in Doctor Who series 11?
Generally speaking Chris Chibnall has suggested the series will focus on new threats in the new adventures.
“We’ve got a new Doctor, all-new characters, all-new monsters, all-new stories,” he told Radio Times.
“We’ve got two weeks left of shooting, and we haven’t seen them yet,” Chibnall told the crowd at San Diego Comic-Con during the Doctor Who panel.
“We’ve got lots of new villains, lots of new monsters, lots of new characters for you to fall in love with.”
What will happen in the new Doctor Who series?
At the moment the BBC is keeping its cards close to its chest, but we can assume the series will show the Doctor adjusting to her new form and personality, before jetting off for more adventures in time and space with her Tardis team.
According to rumours and set photos (possibly confirmed by the new trailer), one story will be set in segregation-era America and deal with the true story of Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks, while another will be set in the 17th century and centre on themes of witchcraft (probably including guest star Alan Cumming, below, as Stuart King James I).
Supposedly the new series will have a fairly even split between episodes set in the past, episodes set in the future and episodes on present-day Earth, with various storylines centring on Whittaker’s companions’ home town of Sheffield. Based on the footage teased in the trailer, the team may visit some intriguing new worlds and locations, and meet some interesting characters along the way.
Can I watch Jodie Whittaker’s series if I haven’t seen Doctor Who before?
According to Chris Chibnall you can indeed, with the screenwriter hoping series 11 can be a good jumping-on point for viewers.
“If you’ve never seen Doctor Who, or want to introduce your children or family and friends to it, this series is the perfect point to start,” he told Radio Times.
“It was really important to me that there’s no barrier to entry. You don’t need to know about anything that’s come before.”
It seems unlikely you don’t already know this if you’re reading this article but just in case: Jodie Whittaker is the current and Thirteenth incarnation of time-travelling face-changing alien the Doctor, with Whittaker making history as the first female actor to play the role.
“The pressure on any actor coming into the role – man or woman – is huge because they’re big boots to fill,” Whittaker told Radio Times. “And for me there’s been 12 pairs of boots.
“Obviously for Whovians this time the change has taken a very different direction than it has before. In a way, though, there is liberation in that new direction: the pressure is less for me because I can only do this my way.”
Who will play the companions in the new Doctor Who series?
Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor will have a lot of new faces joining her on her new adventures when she takes over the Tardis, with long-rumoured companion Bradley Walsh joining the cast of Doctor Who in the role of Graham and newcomers Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill also enlisting in the Tardis crew as Ryan and Yasmin. Sharon D Clarke has also joined the series in a “returning role”.
“The new Doctor is going to need new friends,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a statement. We’re thrilled to welcome Mandip, Tosin and Bradley to the Doctor Who family. They’re three of Britain’s brightest talents and we can’t wait to see them dive into brand new adventures with Jodie’s Doctor. Alongside them, we’re delighted that Sharon D Clarke is also joining the show.”
Jodie Whittaker said: “I am so excited to share this huge adventure with Mandip, Tosin and Bradley. It’s a dream team!”
Bradley Walsh added: “I remember watching William Hartnell as the first Doctor. Black and white made it very scary for a youngster like myself. I was petrified but even though I’d watch most of it from behind the sofa through my fingers, I became a fan. I then queued up for ages to get into the Carlton picture house in Watford to watch the great Peter Cushing appear as the Doctor in a full length feature film made in glorious colour. Am I thrilled to be part of this whole ground breaking new dawn for the Doctor?? Oh yes!”
Mandip Gill said: “I am over the moon to be joining the Doctor Who family. This is an iconic show with an amazing fanbase and I look forward to everything that brings. Certain roles seem unattainable and this is one of those, so much so I didn’t believe it to be true for the first few weeks. To be working alongside the likes of Jodie, Bradley and my old friend Tosin is thrilling. This show is worlds away from the work I’ve done previously and that’s the part that excites me the most.”
Tosin Cole said: “I’m grateful and excited to be a part of this journey with the team. I’m looking forward to jumping in this Doctor Who universe.”
And apparently among his other duties Akinola will be creating “a fresh take on the legendary theme tune,” which is definitely something to look forward to.
“Welcome to the Doctor Who family, Segun Akinola!” new Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a release.
“We’re over the moon Segun’s agreed to join us, to provide the score for the next phase of the Doctor Who adventure.
“From our very first conversations, it was obvious Segun was a passionate, collaborative and delightful human being as well as a fantastic and bold composer. We’re looking forward to introducing the world to his exciting and emotional soundtracks for the Thirteenth Doctor.”
“Doctor Who is woven into the fabric of British culture and recognised globally,” Sekinola added.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be given the privilege of working on such a beloved series and to bring my musical voice to it.”
What is the new Doctor Who logo?
A brand new logo for series 11 was unveiled by Whittaker at a BBC Worldwide showcase earlier recently, alongside a smaller “insignia” for the series. A brilliant orange gold, the new logo is certainly a contrast to what’s come before and includes an intriguing stylised streak, striking through the opening “D” before re-emerging through the “H” and “O”.
At first glance the line seems to allude to the series’ time travel roots (a literal timeline?) while also looking a little like a shooting star. Or maybe that trail is instead left by the Tardis itself, as suggested by a newly-released animation with music from British musician and sound artist Matthew Herbert. The video features the Doctor’s time travel capsule bursting through a crystalline debris field to illuminate the new lettering.
The new logo was produced by creative agency Little Hawk, working closely with showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens. The team also created a special “insignia” for the new series – check it out below.
“The Doctor Who logo and insignia are the quintessential signifier for the brand,” BBC Worldwide Executive Creative Director Rafaela Perera said.
“Our aim was to create modern and elegant designs that were anchored in the things that we love most about Doctor Who.”
All official Doctor Who merchandise featuring the new logo will be available at selected retailers from 20th February 2018.
How many episodes are there in the new Doctor Who series?
It’s been confirmed that Doctor Who series 11 will have 10 episodes plus a Christmas special, marking a slight reduction from the 12-or-13 episode seasons fans have become used to (though more episodes in a year than we got during some of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who tenure).
How long are the new Doctor Who episodes?
The first episode of series 11 will be 65 minutes long, while the subsequent adventures will take place over 50-minute instalments.
This is slightly longer than the usual 45-minute episodes Doctor Who has favoured since the series returned in 2005, so despite the shorter number of episodes in some ways we’re getting more Who than ever this year.
A far cry from the black hoody seen in Whittaker’s announcement video, the outfit is a typically colourful and eccentric look for the Doctor – and it’s chock-full of references and callbacks to previous Doctors, as we explain in more detail here.
For her first episode, though, we expect Whittaker will be stuck wearing Capaldi’s old suit for a while, as has become the tradition in recent years.
What other actors will star in the new series?
While the BBC has remained tight-lipped about any upcoming guest stars, Alan Cumming recently revealed that he’d be playing James I in an upcoming episode, which is rumoured to involve a witchcraft storyline.
Would I Lie to You star and comedian Lee Mack also recently revealed that he has a small part in the new series, after lobbying Head Writer Chris Chibnall for a cameo, while Broadchurch and Misfits actor Shaun Dooley was revealed to be a part of the new series in the first trailer.
What will the new series look like?
Apparently series 11 will be the most cinematic era of Doctor Who yet – at least when it comes to the cameras. According to trade magazine Broadcast, the production is being supplied with brand-new cameras and lenses which will give Doctor Who a razzle-dazzle upgrade.
To get technical for a moment, production house Films at 59, which supplies the BBC’s Doctor Who studios in Roath Lock in Cardiff, is using Cooke anamorphic Prime lenses and Angenieux Optimo anamorphic zooms that will be used with Arri Alexa XT and Alex Mini cameras for series 11.
The intention is to bring an increased cinematic look to the show which started production at the end of October – and according to Bristol-based Films at 59’s Dave Wride, this means a whole new visual feel to the show.
“The BBC have made a monumental leap here to enhance the look of Doctor Who and I’m sure the fans will not be disappointed with the distinctly cinematic results that this lens and camera combo will afford them,” he said.
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