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Doctor Who season 13: Start time, cast, trailer and Jodie Whittaker exit news

Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall are on their way out – Russell T Davies is on his way in.

Doctor Who
Published: Sunday, 28th November 2021 at 11:30 am

It's Sunday and that can only mean one thing: time for another instalment in Doctor Who: Flux, the serialised story that is sowing the seeds for the Thirteenth Doctor's regeneration next year.

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Last week's episode, saw a mixed reception from critics (see our two-star Once, Upon Time review), while the broadcast shed another 200,000 live viewers, but we're still intrigued to see where showrunner Chris Chibnall is taking this story.

It's certainly been unpredictable thus far, with a guest appearance from Jo Martin proving to be a pleasant surprise in the previous episode, even generating talk of a Fugitive Doctor spin-off.

Martin herself would apparently be keen to see it happen, telling fans in a recent Twitter video that she'll be "hard to get rid of" – and there has been talk lately of expanding Doctor Who into a larger MCU-style franchise.

There's particularly high interest this week as tonight's episode features terrifying baddies The Weeping Angels, who are yet to have a full confrontation with Whittaker's incarnation of The Doctor – get a first look here.

Hopefully, the episode will answer some of our burning Doctor Who questions that cropped up after Once, Upon Time, as we inch closer towards the climactic series finale.

The BBC is keeping most story details under wraps for the last chapter, but we do now know that the episode will be titled The Vanquishers and will feature some familiar faces from earlier in the season.

Line of Duty alumni Craig Parkinson and Rochenda Sandall have been busy discussing their roles, with the former teasing an imminent return and the latter suggesting her role may not be what it initially appears.

As per usual, there are a ton of fan theories circulating the internet, with the top ones referencing a possible regeneration to come, the Doctor's lost history, a new secret Time Lord, and the strained dynamic between The Doctor and Yaz.

Prior to the series premiere, Jodie Whittaker – who recently revealed that she briefly considered going back on her original exit plan – had promised that there will be a "massive arc" to enjoy in her final series, and early in the season it seems to be living up to that billing.

Many foes from yesteryear have either already returned or will return during the events of Flux, including the Weeping Angels, the Ood and the Cybermen – while the first episode also included some nods to an old Doctor and classic companions.

It was announced in July that Jodie Whittaker and Chibnall would be stepping down after the upcoming 13th series and a trilogy of specials – with a regeneration set to happen in a special feature-length episode as part of the BBC's centenary celebrations in Autumn 2022. That and the news that Russell T Davies is returning to Doctor Who as the replacement for outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall have kept fans talking for a while now.

Chibnall has admitted it took him longer to leave Doctor Who than he planned, saying: "It’s taken longer than expected if we’re being honest. I’ve been throwing batons at people for about a year now. And finally, someone’s picked it up."

Meanwhile, both John Bishop and Mandip Gill have revealed that they don't know if this will mark the end of their journeys as part of the cast, telling Radio Times that there were still conversations to be had, while Gill recently added that “there’s just no rules to this”.

It does appear that we can expect a whole new look to the show when Russell T Davies returns, as a recent social media post suggests the current TARDIS set has been dismantled.

Doctor Who
Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker and John Bishop in Doctor Who series 13 (BBC)

But more generally, what can Whovians expect from the rest of series 13? Which foes and other characters are returning, which new cast members should we be looking out for and which weird and wonderful points of time and space will the TARDIS be dropping our heroes off in?

Read on to find out everything we currently know about Jodie Whittaker's next Doctor Who series.

Doctor Who: Flux episode 5 time

Yasmin Khan in Doctor Who Flux
Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill, right) in Doctor Who: Flux episode 5, Survivors of the Flux BBC

The fifth episode of Doctor Who: Flux is titled Survivors of the Flux and airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 6.25pm on Sunday, November 28, 2021.

The official plot synopsis for the episode reads: "As the forces of evil mass, the Doctor, Yaz and Dan face perilous journeys and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their quest for survival."

Considering last week's epic cliffhanger regarding the Doctor and the Weeping Angels we can only anticipate what Chris Chibnall has up his sleeve.

After this episode, it's time for the Flux finale!

Doctor Who: Flux episode 4 time

Doctor Who

The fourth episode airs on Sunday 21st November 2021, airing on BBC One at 6:20pm.

The official premiere date for series 13 (styled as Doctor Who: Flux) was Sunday 31st October, with subsequent episodes released on Sunday nights until the finale is shown on BBC One on Sunday 5th December.

The season contains only six regular episodes in series 13, five less than usual, in a move that allows the show to stick to its usual production cycle despite complicated new health and safety guidelines.

However, there will also be a trilogy of specials in 2022, one at New Year, another later in Spring 2022, and the final one as part of the BBC's Centenary celebrations in Autumn, which will also serve as Jodie Whittaker's regeneration episode.

Ex-showrunner Russell T Davies will take over from this point, including special celebrations for the 60th anniversary special – with Mandip Gill having recently claimed she was "relieved" that the show would be in a safe pair of hands going forward.

Regardless of what is coming next, it sounds like the show will be starting as it means to go on when it launches with Chris Chibnall saying that he is going to “blow up the universe” in the season 13 premiere.

Doctor Who series 13 trailer

Revealed during Comic-Con@Home in July 2021, the first-look teaser is only 43 seconds long but is packed full of action, intriguing mysteries (what IS the Doctor hiding from Yaz) and shots of John Bishop falling down various holes. What more could you ask for?

Check out the full trailer above, and get excited.

Meanwhile in October, a very short teaser was released – this time showing Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor attempting to communicate with someone but struggling to get through. Check it out below:

Later, a 20-second teaser introduced the main threat of the series – the titular Flux – through a desperate plea from the Doctor, who also confirmed the return of classic baddies the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels.

We also got a couple of new images from the new run which shows the Doctor and her companions looking a bit flustered by whatever it is that they are going through.

And what's that? You want more trailers? Oh, go on then – check out this footage for series 13, which showed off a load of old and new monsters, plenty of exciting explosions and much, much more...

Meanwhile in the week leading up to the series 13 premiere, fans were offered a closer look at new character Dan (John Bishop) as he answers the door to someone who looks a little too old to be trick-or-treating.

Which Doctor Who monsters will return for season 13?

Doctor Who
A new-look Sontaran in Doctor Who series 13 (BBC)

It's been confirmed that classic baddies the Weeping Angels and the Sontarans will be back in series 13, alongside less familiar foes like The Ravagers and the titular Flux itself. In fact, episode one has been described as a "massive Sontaran adventure" which sounds very exciting!

Previously, Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill confirmed some "old" monsters would be back, leading to speculation about which baddies they could be referring to.

Doctor Who
A Weeping Angel in Doctor Who series 13 (BBC)

“I’m excited for our amazing Whovians to see some incredible interactions with old monsters,” Whittaker said during a virtual Comic-Con@Home panel.

“Because that part is so good!” added co-star Mandip Gill.

Doctor Who
An Ood in Doctor Who series 13 (BBC)

“It’s so special to work with new monsters that we’re the first people to interact with. And old monsters…there’s one in particular, I’m so excited!”

It's since been revealed that the Cybermen and the Ood will also be joining the action, though it's unclear how large a presence they will actually have.

A Cyberman in Doctor Who series 13 (BBC)

As for the Daleks, it looks like the iconic baddies will be back once again after taking centre stage in the 2020 festive special, at least based on some leaked photos from the set.

Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop were all spotted filming in Bristol in early June – as was long-term voice of the Daleks Nicholas Briggs and Dalek operators Nicholas Pegg and Barnaby Edwards. And what's more, a photo of crew members unloading a Dalek from a truck was also leaked – as sure a sign as any that they must be returning in season 13.

Is Jodie Whittaker leaving Doctor Who?

Doctor Who

Yes – it was confirmed in late July that Jodie Whittaker would be handing in her sonic screwdriver at the close of the new series, becoming the fourth Doctor in a row to leave after three seasons in the role.

Announcing the news, she said, “In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size 13 shoes. I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them. My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories.

“We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side, and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I will carry the Doctor and the lessons I’ve learnt forever.

“I know change can be scary and none of us know what’s out there. That’s why we keep looking. Travel Hopefully. The Universe will surprise you. Constantly.”

As for who will be replacing Whittaker in the TARDIS, there has been no suggestion yet – but the BBC has announced that “the new generation of Doctor Who” is coming soon, so watch this space for the latest updates.

Several big names have already been linked to the role, including Years and Years star Olly Alexander, and we've compiled a list of some possible options – but bear in mind that this is all speculative at this stage.

Jodie has weighed in on the change of Doctor, saying: “The joy of this job is you hand on your boots."

Will John Barrowman return to Doctor Who?

John Barrowman
BBC

While John Barrowman made a major comeback for Revolution of the Daleks, he apparently won't be back for the next series.

"Listen, I don’t think I’m saying anything out of line – I’m not in the next series. I don’t want to tease the fans," he told TV Choice Magazine.

Still, it's possible Barrowman (who managed to keep Jack's involvement a secret for many months) is pulling our leg again and, even if he isn't, it may not be long before Captain Jack is back anyway.

“I mean if they ever ask Jack back I'll come back at the drop of a hat,” Barrowman previously told RadioTimes.com.

However, any possibility of a Barrowman return may have been made less likely by recent controversy, following accusations that the actor had frequently exposed himself on the sets of Torchwood and Doctor Who in the past.

The allegations came to light after a 2014 video featuring his Doctor Who co-star Noel Clarke resurfaced. In the clip, Clarke, who has been accused of sexual harassment on the set of Doctor Who and denies the allegations, said Barrowman would expose himself on the production.

Barrowman addressed allegations in a statement released to The Guardian, saying that his “high-spirited behaviour” was “only ever intended in good humour to entertain colleagues on set and backstage”.

He added: “With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that upset may have been caused by my exuberant behaviour and I have apologised for this previously. Since my apology in November 2008, my understanding and behaviour have also changed.”

The star has already been removed from interactive adventure Doctor Who: Time Fracture, in which he was originally set to reprise the role of Captain Jack Harkness in a pre-recorded clip.

Meanwhile, Doctor Who audio producers Big Finish announced they would not be moving forward with the release of the story Torchwood: Absent Friends, in which Barrowman was set to star.

Who is the new Doctor Who companion?

Dan Doctor Who
John Bishop as Dan in Doctor Who (BBC)

John Bishop has been unveiled as new companion Dan Lewis, who looks set to play a central role in the series going forward.

“If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it," Bishop said in a release.

"It’s an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn’t wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip.”

“It’s time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan," added showrunner Chris Chibnall.

"Oh, we’ve had to keep this one secret for a long, long time. Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it’s a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS.”

So far, we don't know much about Dan apart from the fact that he appears to be a painter-decorator, though the BBC did offer a few clues.

"As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe," the channel said in a release.

"Travelling through Space and Time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares."

And more recently, in an online Q&A, Bishop gave some more details about how his character is introduced to Doctor Who.

Doctor Who

“Chris Chibnall, who is the showrunner and the main writer of Doctor Who and the Broadchurch showrunner, has got a fantastic pedigree," Bishop told students of the Liverpool Media Academy.

"He wants to base it in Liverpool because the series always begins from somewhere, the last one from Sheffield. And so he wanted it to be based in Liverpool and that’s where the Doctor is going to get the new companion."

It also appears we'll meet Dan's parents in his first episode, played by actors Sue Murphy and Paul Broughton.

“I did one thing with two Liverpool actors, Paul Broughton and Sue Murphy," Bishop said.

"They were playing my mum and dad and I swear to God, it was like a masterclass because the was a little bit where there’s these aliens that have come down. They took over the world. My mom has found a way to knock them out with a wok."

He added: "There’s a scene where we’re in the car with me mum and dad, and what was fantastic for me is they were – watching them play off each other, watching them acting while the other one was speaking – because they work so well together anyway, and honestly I’ve just learned loads from that!"

Sounds like we're in for some more Who family drama when Dan makes his debut.

Did coronavirus affect Doctor Who series 13?

Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor confronts a new alien
BBC

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down all sorts of TV productions and Doctor Who is among those affected.

It appears that filming on season 13 was delayed by several weeks, but still kicked off at roughly the same time of year as was always intended.

However, due to more complex filming practices necessitated by the health crisis, the upcoming season has had to shorten its run by three episodes to ensure production won't run over, and is structured as a serialised story rather than the usual one-off episodes.

Doctor Who series 13 cast

Doctor Who
Jacob Anderson as Vinder in Doctor Who (BBC)

Apart from Bishop joining the Doctor Who cast, the big new addition for series 13 is Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson, who will play a mysterious space-traveller called Vinder across several episodes.

"The Doctor has been a part of my life forever, from watching and rewatching the serials on VHS as a kid and being terrified, to unexpectedly finding my eyes watering when the Tenth Doctor said 'I don’t want to go'," Anderson said.

"I always wanted to live in the Whoniverse. Not only has a lifelong dream of mine now been fulfilled, but to be playing a character as fun, adventurous and dynamic as Vinder is the cherry on top. This is very cool."

And more recently, Anderson revealed that he hopes the character will be as memorable as some other supporting players in the show's history – including River Song.

In an interview shared by the BBC he said, "I really hope people like Vinder, as a fan of the show and as a fan of those characters that come in and recur and are part of the story beyond their singular story, there are some really iconic characters.

“Like River Song, and Osgood and all these people you really remember and I hope Vinder can be a part of that, I really hope people like him.”

Other guest cast members include Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Toast Of London, Downton Abbey), Thaddea Graham (The Irregulars, Us), Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners, A Very English Scandal, World On Fire), Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean, Designated Survivor, Downton Abbey), Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty, Intergalactic, The English Game), Sara Powell (Unforgotten, Damned), Annabel Scholey (The Split, Britannia), Gerald Kyd (Cold Feet, Britannia) and Penelope Ann McGhie (The Crown, Harry Potter).

More names were announced in the immediate build-up to series 13, including Line of Duty star Rochenda Sandall, Sam Spruell, Craige Els, Steve Oram, Nadia Albina, Jonathan Watson, Sue Jenkins and Paul Broughton. But don't think that's it as Chibnall has hinted that there may well be names they have not announced yet.

Sandall has discussed how her role may not be as villainous as it initially appears, telling Doctor Who Magazine that Azure could go in any direction.

“When I got the first couple of scripts, I just thought, ‘Wow, OK.’ Straight away, I was just massively interested in the journey of a prosthetic, and how they were going to create it," she said.

“And then seeing where we were going to go with the characters. Were we actually bad? Or were we good guys deep down? You just don’t know with Chris’ [Chibnall] scripts.”

Incumbent Doctor Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she’ll be back for season 13, reuniting with Chris Chibnall for a new series of adventures - their final outing as star and showrunner, respectively.

Companions Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh will definitely not be back for more, with the pair leaving after the special, having booked big new roles in US legal drama 61st Street and an ITV remake of The Darling Buds of May respectively. Instead, John Bishop's new character Dan (see above) will take their place at the Doctor's side.

Meanwhile, Sacha Dhawan has said he’s open to returning again as the Doctor’s nemesis, The Master, assuming fans are keen to have him back.

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

"There's been no talk about me coming back," he told RadioTimes.com. "I know they are planning another series and I'm waiting for that phone call.

"I would really love to come back. I'm just really excited to see, if I do come back, where they'd take the character. The Master is so unpredictable, he can get out of anything! I'm sure he'll be inclined to make another visit. I hope so!"

Towards the end of the series 12 finale there was also a hint that the Master may have escaped another certain death.

"All of you, through here, now!" he can be heard shouting as the Death Particle activates, suggesting that he may have shepherded his new Cyber-Army into a waiting TARDIS and escaped from Gallifrey.

"The thing is... what I love about the Master is that you can put him in the darkest, most dangerous, most impossible situations... and he'll always find a way of getting out of them. How, I don't know!" Dhawan told RadioTimes.com.

If Whittaker is leaving, it seems increasingly likely that Dhawan's Master could return for one last face-off - and the same logic would suggest that Jo Martin's mysterious Fugitive Doctor would turn up to resolve her storyline as well.

And indeed Martin has herself gone on record to state that she hopes to return to the show – or perhaps even be given her own spin-off series.

“Of course, of course,” Martin said, when asked by RadioTimes.com if she’d like to reprise her role.

“What’s not to like about that? I would absolutely love it. And they’ve got John Bishop there now, haven’t they? I’m a big fan of his. I want a scene with him.”

She added: “I think there’s so much more story. What they set up opens up a world that we’ve not fully explored within Doctor Who yet.

"And you don’t want to waste that costume. You know what I mean? That costume – it’s a real waste of a costume because it’s so swaggy, as they say. So I think that costume needs to get worn again by me.”

Of course, given the high profile return of John Barrowman last series and again in the festive special, viewers will be wondering if any other fan favourites from years gone by will be returning to the show.

Donna Noble had been mooted for a return by some fans after Catherine Tate was allegedly spotted in Liverpool while a shoot was taking place, however those claims were denied by her representative.

Some other former stars have also revealed they'd love to return, with both Osgood star Ingrid Oliver and River Song actress Alex Kingston claiming they'd love to team up with Jodie Whittaker before her time in the TARDIS is up.

Oliver told RadioTimes.com, "Jodie’s Doctor is so funny and witty and high energy" and said she would love to see how Osgood would interact with her.

"I think it’d be quite funny," she said. "I think it’d be a really funny dynamic, actually, and quite interesting to watch. Let’s see what happens. I mean, let’s do it. Let’s do it!”

Meanwhile, Kingston told RadioTimes.com it would be a “great shame” if River Song never met Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.

“It would be a great shame if it were not to happen. Let’s put it that way,” she said. "I’m open to anything. I don’t have an idea about how we should meet or anything like that. But I would like River to meet her, and plant a big, fat kiss on her!”

Apparently, actor Steve Oram will have a role in the new series too, though this has not been officially announced.

Doctor Who series 13 spoilers

Jodie Whittaker TARDIS

A lot is being kept under wraps about Doctor Who: Flux, but we know certain revelations in the season 12 finale episode The Timeless Children – namely that the Doctor was a being from another dimension who was harvested by the Time Lords for regeneration, and subsequently lived countless lifetimes that were later removed from her mind – are likely to be picked up in season 13 itself, especially after the Doctor mentions these issues again in 2021 festive special Revolution of the Daleks.

Perhaps, after being urged by Ryan (Tosin Cole) in that episode we’ll see the Doctor investigate her past self and work out what missions she completed for the Division, or where she came from in the first place.

As noted, it also seems likely that we’ll see more from the “new” incarnation of the Doctor (Jo Martin) introduced in series 12 episode Fugitive of the Judoon, who we'd expect to cross paths with Whittaker once again before the latter leaves the series behind.

Mandip Gill has suggested the series will also see Yaz continuing to deal with her former mental health issues.

"It’s part of Yaz’s journey now," she said. "It will affect, basically, her choices in the future."

And of course, now we know that the series will take the form of one six-part story rather than several standalone episodes – so whatever happens it's sure to be on a big scale.

All that, plus the introduction of Bishop's new character Dan, are sure to make for a busy season. Plus, Chris Chibnall offered one clue during a virtual panel about the series: the word "swarm." Hmmm....any guesses?

Who writes Doctor Who series 13?

Chris Chibnall in front of the Tardis

Series showrunner Chris Chibnall has confirmed he’ll be back in charge for Jodie Whittaker’s third series and final series, following earlier rumours that he might leave the sci-fi drama behind.

“I do know I’m coming back for a third season,” Chibnall said. “Yeah, absolutely.”

However, we do know that this will be Chibnall's last series working on the show, with his departure confirmed at the same time as Jodie Whittaker's in July 2021.

"Jodie and I made a ‘three series and out’ pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the TARDIS keys," he said.

Chibnall will be joined by The Haunting of Villa Diodati writer Maxine Alderton to write the fourth instalment of Flux, but otherwise he's going solo for the foreseeable future.

Jamie Magnus Stone is returning to direct episodes 1, 2 and 4, with 3, 5 and 6 directed by Azhur Saleem.

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Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, visit our Sci-fi hub, or take a look at our TV Guide.

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