While Doctor Who’s 12th modern series is still some weeks away, the wheels are already in motion for another season of episodes – at least according to series showrunner and head writer Chris Chibnall, who has blasted rumours that he’s set to depart the BBC sci-fi series.
“It’s categorically untrue [that I’m leaving],” Chibnall told RadioTimes.com and other press during a visit to Doctor Who’s Cardiff set. “We’re already planning the next series after this series.”
In other words, Chibnall and his writing team – which this year includes Vinay Patel, Pete McTighe and Maxine Alderton among others – are already plotting ideas and storylines for where to take the Doctor and her friends in 2021 and beyond, even before we’ve seen what they get up to in this series. Now that’s forward planning.
And while this may not be an official confirmation from the BBC itself, the news will gladden Who fans hoping for more adventures from Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor and her team – though according to Chibnall and his cast, there’s plenty of that to look forward to in the upcoming series 12 anyway.
“It doesn’t feel like we’re regurgitating anything that we’ve done before,” Jodie Whittaker told us. “I feel like we’re treading new ground for each of the character journeys, and the development of everybody’s storylines.
“I felt more comfortable, because playing it during my second season is obviously less nerve-wracking than day one of season one. Now, it’s second skin already.”
“It feels like a step up,” Chibnall agreed. “It’s probably more ambitious than last year. Scale, storytelling, everything. I would say we are aiming to keep moving forward and up. There are bigger moments this year.”
“There’s more [stunts] than last year, by a country mile I’d say,” added series actor Bradley Walsh. “This is brilliant.
“I love it, I do, I get my chair up, I’ll say hello to the stunt lads, say what are you going to do today, and I’ll watch an explosion or a stunt going on. It’s like being in the movies. I absolutely love it.”
Writer Chris Chibnall, actors Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and Tosin Cole at San Diego Comic-Con 2018 (Getty)
And according to Chibnall, after last series’ attempts to appeal to a new audience, he’s now hoping that future episodes can introduce them to the truly weird and wonderful world of Doctor Who.
“Last year was a recruiting year for the show, and I think we managed to recruit some people for the show. That’s exciting,” he explained.
“And obviously we kept the existing audience and built on that. I think this year we’re developing that, so for all the people who are new to Doctor Who we’re going to go ‘Look at the amazing world of Doctor Who, look at all the treats that are in there.’
“So we’re building on last year. There are lots of new faces, a few old faces. There are some things trickling through which might be important. It’s different!
“I think you always need to take new, big risks from a storytelling point of view,” he added.
“Doctor Who has to exist in the modern television landscape. There is so much drama, there are so many shows. We have to continually find new reasons to be existing.
Bradley Walsh, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole in the 2019 Doctor Who New Year’s special (BBC)
“But also there’s loads of things the show hasn’t done before. I think you saw last year that we took a lot of risks, and I think that they paid off, and I think that we’ll continue to take some big risks this year.
“But you can do that and also give people all the stuff they love about Doctor Who as well. You balance the two.
“Risk is built into Doctor Who, from day one in 1963,” he concluded. “No question of that.”
Though at least we now know there’s not much risk of this being the last year of Doctor Who – or even the last year for Chibnall and (most likely) his cast. After all, how could the Thirteenth Doctor not get to series 13?
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in early 2020