One of the most surprising elements of Doctor Who season 14 was its repeated shattering of the fourth wall, but showrunner Russell T Davies has suggested we might never get an in-universe explanation for why it's happening.


Anita Dobson's enigmatic Mrs Flood bookended the season by addressing the audience in The Church on Ruby Road, and providing some concluding remarks in action-packed finale Empire of Death.

Both of these moments teased bigger stories to come with that particular character, while the Doctor's own wink to camera in The Devil's Chord was seemingly just for fun, ushering in an elaborate dance number.

In a new interview with SFX, Davies was quizzed on this as-yet-unexplained twist on the traditional Doctor Who style, but stayed non-committal on whether fans could expect the matter to be formally acknowledged.

"That hasn’t been explained, and it might never be, frankly," he began. "It’s very interesting, within the Doctor Who offices, we know exactly why that happens and yet I’m showing no sign of putting that on screen."

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He continued: "There is actually a reason for it that was in a very early draft of The Star Beast. But I see no need to explain it whatsoever.

"My sister watches that, she doesn’t blink. She actually doesn’t blink when a character turns to camera and gives them a wink.

"I mean, you would if it was Pride and Prejudice, that would be odd. But there’s something showy about Doctor Who, there’s something proscenium arch about it. There’s something arch about it, full stop."

For those unfamiliar with theatre jargon, a proscenium arch essentially refers to the area of a stage in which a show unfolds; it is the frame where the characters, locations and scenarios exist, with the audience sat firmly outside.

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) looks directly at the audience in a moment from The Devil's Chord
The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) in The Devil's Chord. BBC

Of course, in some theatre productions, characters do occasionally step out to acknowledge the audience watching them, and Davies believes it isn't a stretch for Doctor Who to do the same.

He added: "I think it’s a programme which you can very happily turn towards the audience. It’s a very fine, very simple tradition."

Even if there isn't a full explanation, fans may gain a stronger understanding of how Mrs Flood can break the fourth wall when we learn the true nature of her character.

At present, we know very little, but sinister lines of dialogue uttered in the two-part season 14 finale suggested that she was a powerful entity with malicious intent. Roll on, season 15!

The cover of SFX magazine, featuring Ncuti Gatwa as The Doctor and Sutekh's heralds on either side of him
SFX #318.

The new issue of SFX is on sale now. Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Season 15 coming soon.


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