9 changes Doctor Who fans want for when the series returns

The Sea Devils! The Ruth Doctor! More Captain Jack! And a big change to the structure of Jodie Whittaker’s adventures…

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Doctor Who series 12 may be over, but fans are already looking ahead to what’s next for Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord in the upcoming series 13.

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And to find out what they’d like to see in the Doctor’s next adventures, RadioTimes.com surveyed a select group of fans to find out exactly what they’re keen to change, see more of or drop entirely when the TARDIS touches down again.

I will never get tired of saying how Series 12 turned out to be a massive improvement from its predecessor,” one of the people we surveyed told us. “But there are, of course, improvements that need to be made for Series 13.”

And from fundamental changes about how Who is delivered to homes to endless calls for the return of the Sea Devils and Torchwood, fans had quite a spread of ideas for what they want to happen next. Starting with…

A change of structure

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in Doctor Who (BBC)
Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in Doctor Who (BBC)

A few fans were keen to see a shake-up of the last two series’ 10-episode, 50-minute structure, suggesting longer runs and episode lengths as well as more drastic changes.

“More episodes would be great and they don’t last long enough!” one person told us, while another noted that “you can’t get a good quality story in 50 minutes of screentime.”

Meanwhile, others suggested more multi-episode stories and two-parters (including cliffhangers) as well as “an increase to a total of 12-13 episodes.”

And one responder had an even more ambitious idea for how to deliver the series…

“Series 13 as six hour-long episodes split across the year with a seasonal special,” they suggested.

The Sea Devils!

Jon Pertwee's Doctor vs a Sea Devil (BBC)
Jon Pertwee’s Doctor vs a Sea Devil (BBC)

In 2018, the lack of classic Who monsters had fans desperate for the return of Daleks, Cybermen and the Master – but now that all these classic foes have made a comeback, fans are hoping to delve a little deeper into the Doctor’s rogues’ gallery.

“Stop rotating between the Daleks and Cybermen and bring back some of the older monsters,” one fan wrote.

And specifically, a huge number of people seem desperate to see the return of the Sea Devils, the amphibious aliens from the classic series who remain one of the only well-known Doctor Who monsters to not make it to the modern TV series (though their land-dwelling cousins the Silurians have appeared a few times).

“The Sea Devils should return,” one fan wrote. “They are the last iconic classic series monster left for a new series redesign, and I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet.”

“Love to have the Sea Devils back,” said another, and generally speaking there seems to be a big appetite to see this particular monster in action, with the Sea Devils coming third in a RadioTimes.com poll last year determining which classic baddies fans wanted to come back.

The return of some old favourites

Alex Kingston as River Song in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)
Alex Kingston as River Song in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)

And the Sea Devils aren’t the only old favourite Whovians wanted to see return, with all sorts of familiar faces (and creatures) namechecked in fans’ wishlists.

“Bring back the Weeping Angels, Sontarans, bring back Captain Jack, River Song and Rose, bring back the gang from Sarah Jane adventures and K9! And the trickster,” one (fairly ambitious) person suggested.

“K9? Where’s he to these days?” pondered another reader.

“It’d be nice to see some previous companions, revisit some old planets,” one fan said while another hoped for a return for the Matt Smith-era Paternoster gang or Jemma Redgrave’s UNIT boss Kate Stewart (last seen in the 2015 series).

More obscure classic monsters like the Ograns and Draconians were also namechecked as long overdue for a return, among many others.

“Bring back the Voord and show what they looked like under those rubber masks!” one reader demanded.

“Perhaps an updated version of the Wirrn, with more visceral special effects that don’t use bubble-wrap painted green?” pondered another. “And since he was mentioned last season, maybe the Toymaker could return in a new guise?”

Still, we’re sure they won’t be too upset to see the Daleks once more before all that…

Some new stuff too

Doctor Who It Takes You Away, BBC Pictures

On the other hand, some fans were keen that Who not just rest on its already-popular monsters, instead hoping the series will unveil some exciting new ideas going forward.

“NOTHING RETURN from any past series at all,” one fan put forward. “More like season 11. More experimental stuff and maybe a longer season.

“Original stuff, new stuff, mysteries in the past with NO monsters, etc.”

Clearly, one way or another Doctor Who series 13 won’t please everyone.

Captain Jack Harkness and Torchwood

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who series 12 (BBC)
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who (BBC)

When we surveyed fans after the 2018 series, “Bring back Captain Jack Harkness!” was one of the most popular responses – and accordingly, John Barrowman’s fan-favourite immortal Time Agent did actually have a cameo in series 12.

But are the fans satisfied? Well, not exactly – because people are already keen to see more of Jack in action, whether that means another guest appearance or a more permanent position in the TARDIS.

“More Captain Jack. At the moment his cameo in Fugitive of the Judoon feels pointless, so they need to rectify that,” one fan noted, while another suggested “occasional episodes with Jack” should become a regular feature of series 13.

“Make Captain Jack a part-time or permanent companion,” another added.

And other fans wanted to go even further…

Torchwood cast
Torchwood cast
BBC

“I’d say bring back the whole of Torchwood including Captain Jack Harkness,” one reader said, suggesting this was the perfect time to bring the Who spin-off (which starred Barrowman’s Jack in a central role) back to TV.

“I’d love to see the return of Captain Jack Harkness and the rest of the Torchwood gang!” agreed a different Whovian.

“Have Doctor Who & Torchwood series run side by side and have crossovers!”

“Bring a new season of Torchwood with Jack, Gwen, Martha and some new faces,” added another responder, and generally speaking the hunger for more Captain Jack and Torchwood doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

More from the Ruth Doctor

19592136-low_res-doctor-who-series-12
One of the biggest moments in series 12 came from the reveal that Gloucester tour guide Ruth Clayton – played by Jo Martin – was actually a mysterious former incarnation of the Doctor, disguised as a human and later revealed as a part of the Doctor’s memories that had been wiped.

And unsurprisingly, fans are keen to find out more about her, as well as see her more in action.

“We need to find out more about the Ruth Doctor,” one fan told us, while another demanded “more of Doctor-Ruth”

And one person responded with an intriguing idea for a special episode…

“A solo Jo Martin episode would be great,” they said.

New and offbeat historicals

DOCTOR WHO: SERIES 12: EPISODE 08

The most recent series saw the Doctor meet Ada Lovelace, Mary Shelley and Nikola Tesla, and fans are hungry to see even more historical episodes going forward.

“They should do more historicals and maybe even one long historical,” one of our readers suggested, adding that they’d be interested in a trip to the past that only dealt with historical issues (i.e. no aliens).

And a few other people we surveyed had some ideas for who the Doctor could go and visit.

“After reading about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara it would be very interesting for the Doctor to visit the Cuban revolution, and see how a lawyer and a medical student managed to overthrow the dictator Batista,” one wrote.

“Have the Doctor meeting a classical composer like Mozart, Beethoven or Bach,” another suggested.

Shake up the companions

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Rumours have been swirling for a while that one or more of the Doctor’s TARDIS team could be departing ahead of the new series, with reports suggesting Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole will be leaving while Mandip Gill’s Yaz continues travelling with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

And some Whovians say they’d welcome the prospect of a smaller TARDIS team.

“I’d really like to see them take advantage of the smaller TARDIS team to develop Yaz’s character and her relationship with the doctor,” one fan said.

“We need a deeper exploration of the Doctor and Yaz’s Doctor-companion dynamic,” agreed another.

“I don’t feel like we know enough about how they feel about each other, or what their dynamic is.”

However, others were devastated at the idea of losing Walsh’s Graham and Cole’s Ryan from the series, hoping there could be a way to include them going forward.

19306095-low_res-doctor-who-series-12

“Don’t get rid of Bradley Walsh! He’s been one of the best companions!” one reader pleaded. “The three have chemistry that works well together, I hope they all stay!”

“Graham should appear in a recurring guest role throughout the series,” someone else suggested. “A Chibnall era series without Bradley Walsh scarcely bears thinking about.”

However, some others are already brainstorming ideas for new companions – and not just some new human friends either.

“Perhaps bring in an alien companion like a Draconian, or maybe even a reprogrammed Cyberman,” mused one fan.

And finally – keep the big series arcs

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Sacha Dhawan as The Master - Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 10
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Sacha Dhawan as The Master
BBC

Generally speaking the fans we spoke to had a lot of positive responses to the latest series, especially the return of more serialised storytelling after the 2018 series told more standalone stories in its episodes.

“The twists and reveals throughout this series really kept me engaged, so more of that in the next one,” a reader told us.

“I’d like a brand new story arc, with elements of the Timeless Child, and another extended two-part finale (both halves labelled “Part 1” and “Part 2”), revealing further plot twists of the Timeless Child arc,” added someone else.

“I’d like less running around from location to location and more story and character development,” another reader told us.

Overall, then, fans still have a lot they’re hoping to see in Doctor Who when it returns in 2021 or later. And considering how many of their demands last time ended up in series 12, who knows? They could be getting exactly what they want sooner than they expect.

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Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks comes to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021. If you’re looking for something to watch, why not take a look at our best Netflix series list or our best Netflix movies roundup.