Doctor Who series 13: release date, cast, trailer and Jodie Whittaker exit news

Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall are on their way out - but what can we expect before they leave?

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who series 13 (BBC)

While we’re still reeling from the big Doctor Who news of recent weeks, that doesn’t mean we won’t be looking out for the smallest production tidbits and pieces of information. And we have some more details ahead of the latest grand farewell for the Doctor.

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You see, series 13 was already shaping up to be an unusual season of Doctor Who – and now we know that it will also mark the farewell of Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker.

It was confirmed in late July that Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall would be stepping down after the series and a trilogy of specials, with Chibnall claiming they had always had a pact to step down after three seasons.

The final farewell is still a while off yet – with the regeneration set to happen in a special feature-length episode as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations in Autumn 2022 – but it’s possible that the events of the upcoming series will start to build up to that moment.

The news of the departures came just a few days after it was revealed that the upcoming series will have a serialised story, rather than the usual standalone episodes, with each week serving as a “chapter” in a longer narrative – and we know now that there will be six of those episodes.

“The big thing we’re going to be doing this year is that it’s all one story – so every episode is a chapter in a bigger story,” Chibnall said during Doctor Who’s Comic-Con@Home panel in July 2021. “And so we’ve changed the shape of the series for this year.”

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

Apparently the change was partially inspired by the limitations imposed on filming by coronavirus restrictions, which meant the crew had to pick between more low-key individual episodes or a bigger scale but with a simpler manner of production and more returning guest stars.

“I think it’s definitely the most ambitious thing we’ve done,” Chibnall said. “It’s epic and ambitious and we do go to a lot of places.”

Also revealed during the panel was a first-look trailer for series 13 (at last!) and the arrival of new character Vinder, who is played by Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson and will have a recurring role across multiple episodes.

Comedian John Bishop will also be playing new character Dan Lewis in the upcoming series, adventuring through time and space alongside the Doctor Mandip Gill’s Yaz – and the trio are certain to come up against all sorts of foes, familiar and otherwise.

But more generally, what can Whovians expect from 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 series 13 BBC release date

Doctor Who - Jodie Whittaker
BBC / Ben Blackall

While there’s no official premiere date for Doctor Who series 13 just yet, the BBC has revealed that the new episodes will be released in 2021, probably in autumn or winter towards the end of the year. Many fans believe October or November are likely start dates for the series.

“The 13th series starts on BBC One later in 2021,” the BBC said in a release, with executive producer Matt Strevens adding that fans would see new episodes “later this year”.

We now know that there will only be 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.

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.

Is Jodie Whittaker quitting Doctor Who?

Doctor Who
Picture Shows: Captain Jack Harkness (JOHN BARROWMAN), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon

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.

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.

Which Doctor Who monsters will return for season 13?

Weeping Angel
Picture Shows: Weeping Angel – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon

According to series boss Chris Chibnall, Doctor Who season 13 looks set to bring back some high profile baddies to face off with the Doctor and her friends.

“Yes, more monsters are coming back,” Chibnall told Radio Times.

“There are ones who’ve appeared over the past 15 years that are deserving of another visit in the next series. In fact, they’re probably formulating their plans as we speak…”

More recently, Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill confirmed some “old” monsters would be back, leading to speculation about which baddies they could be referring to.

“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.

“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!”

We may already have a few clues about who to expect. Leaked filming photos appear to show the clone-warrior Sontarans (last seen regularly during the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who) sporting a new look for one episode, while another photo apparently showed a deadly Weeping Angel advancing on some victims.

Currently, neither of these monster appearances have been officially confirmed by the BBC, and it’s certainly possible the Weeping Angels were being filmed for a different project – but, if true, we certainly sound like we’re in for some seriously spooky episodes.

And after a little cameo for a Weeping Angel in New Year’s special Revolution of the Daleks, we’d say chances aren’t looking too remote for their grand return.

Speaking of 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.

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.

“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.

Will coronavirus affect Doctor Who series 13?

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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, the big new addition to Doctor Who 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.”

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 - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Sacha Dhawan as The Master – Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America
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.

What will happen in Doctor Who series 13?

Jodie Whittaker TARDIS
Picture Shows: The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: James Pardon

Specific plot details of series 13 remain unknown, though Chibnall has revealed that clues about what to expect are present in the series 12 finale if you know where to find them – and apparently the plan for the next series is “big” and “ambitious.”

“We are already planning the stories,” Chibnall said. “You’ll realise there are some stories we’re already setting in train for next series. We have very big, ambitious plans for our third series together.”

Presumably, with Jodie Whittaker leaving, then the major storyline will be the build-up to the Doctor’s exit, with the Time Lord facing a chilling new threat as she builds to her final adventure.

Meanwhile, rumour has it that the season 13 filming currently underway involves iconic Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, in keeping with the series’ trend for emotional historical episodes in recent episodes, though this storyline has yet to be confirmed officially.

And of course, 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.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 20:00:01 on 02/03/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Series 12 - TX: 01/03/2020 - Episode: n/a (No. 10) - Picture Shows: ++POST TX++ **STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 02/03/2020 20:00:01** The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC - Photographer: James Pardon

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 will write Doctor Who series 13?

Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall (BBC)
Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall (BBC)

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.

It’s currently unknown whether other series 12 writers like Vinay Patel, Pete McTighe, Ed Hime, Maxine Alderton, Charlene James or Nina Metivier will also return, or whether series 11’s Malorie Blackman and Joy Wilkinson could make a comeback.

We do know that Jamie Magnus Stone is returning to direct some episodes, while series newcomer Haolu Wang onboard to direct the second 60-minute special in Spring 2o22.

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