What’s next for Doctor Who? Well, er, we have no idea – at least past Jodie Whittaker’s upcoming series and specials – with no Fourteenth Doctor or new showrunner currently lined up to replace the star or series boss Chris Chibnall.
Our only clue at the moment is a quick comment by BBC Drama Controller Piers Wenger, who hinted that big change could be on the way for the longstanding sci-fi series. In fact, that’s more or less just literally what he said.
“As with any change of Doctor and showrunner, it will be ambitious and radical,” he said during a talk at the Edinburgh TV festival.
“We will have to look at the TV landscape in which it will play. So, change is ahead!”
See? We told you. Anyway, in this week’s RadioTimes.com Doctor Who podcast we take a few guesses as to what these “radical” changes could or should be, from the drastic (a rumoured multi-year rest for the series) to the old-school (a return to multi-part serials, as with the upcoming series 13, rather than a collection of standalone episodes).
And in the end we have to ask – did 1970s Who boss (and Morbius Doctor) Philip Hinchcliffe have it right after all when he suggest the modern series could learn from multi-part classic stories?
“So the whole idea was that every week, there’s an episode with a cliffhanger, and the audience talked about it during the week, and then they came back,” he recently told RadioTimes.com. “Four half-hours, or four 25 minutes, is pretty much the length of a movie. And so that that was the ideal story arc, over four half-hours.
“[Doctor Who showrunner] Chris Chibnall and I talked about this when I met him a couple years ago – we had our natural cliffhangers. He said that he’s trying to construct within his story structures to have ‘cliffhanger moments’, if you know what I mean, going through. But it all happens much faster, at a much faster pace.”
He added: “I don’t think that the 45 or 50 minutes story is as satisfying in some ways, because you don’t get to know the characters much, or as well as in my stories.”
Who knows? Going back to the 25-minute serial format would certainly be pretty… radical.