Forget the return of the Cybermen or the Judoon – because apparently, the biggest challenge faced by Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor in the upcoming series of Doctor Who will be something much bigger (and more abstract).


In fact, according to head writer and showrunner Chris Chibnall, this year the Time Lord will face something that could change how we see her forever – even if he’s not wuite ready to reveal what that is yet.

“There is a new challenge that the Doctor has to face this year which is pretty profound,” Chibnall told

“I think this Doctor goes into different territories this year. But also she's faced with very different challenges, and they’re some very very big challenges this year.

“You'll see the Doctor have to face down some big...things,” Chibnall added.

“And that, by necessity, takes Jodie's Doctor into territory we haven't seen her in before.”

In other words, the Doctor really goes through the wringer this year, and Chibnall was quick to praise the performance of his leading lady Jodie Whittaker.

“The thing I realised very quickly about her is, she's amazing as the Doctor and she can do anything you can throw at her,” Chibnall explained.

“So my job was to throw lots of different things at her. I think obviously what you hope over the time a Doctor is a Doctor, is that that character is evolving and developing, and I think part of my job is to look at the Thirteenth Doctor's development over time, but also to challenge Jodie.”

And this development will also bleed into Whittaker’s co-stars, with Tardis Team Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole (or rather, their characters Graham, Yaz and Ryan) starting to develop a different sort of relationship with the Doctor.

Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Jodie Whittaker and Bradley Walsh in Doctor Who (BBC)

“Last year it's like she was showing them the wonders of the universe,” Chibnall told us.

“This year she's going to need them a lot more. She's going to rely on them. They've been travelling long enough to know a bit more now.”

And as a part of that, the Doctor’s long and storied past will finally be revealed to her new best friends – and their reactions might not be what we expect…

“What they realise is they don't really know anything about the Doctor,” Chibnall said. “Because I don't think that she said the words Time Lord last year. I don't think that she said the word Gallifrey last year. She'll be saying those words this year.

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“They don't know much about her,” he continued, “so they're going to be curious about that.

“And also I guess curious about, what does this mean for them? How long are they on this journey for, but who are they on it with, really?”

Doctor Who gets introspective? The Terror of the Angst? Sounds like some of the biggest challenges in this series will come from within the Tardis team itself…


Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on New Year’s Day at 6.55pm