Doctor Who’s next season now looks all the more intriguing following new reports that Jodie Whittaker could be leaving the series, with the Thirteenth Doctor star (who took on the central role in 2017) rumoured to regenerate at the end of the new run of episodes.
But has Jodie Whittaker really quit Doctor Who? How will she regenerate if so, and what monsters could she be facing for a final stand?
And 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.
When is Doctor Who series 13’s BBC release date?
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.
“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”.
There will be only eight episodes in series 13, three less than usual, in a move that allows the show to stick to its usual production cycle despite complicated new health and safety guidelines.
“It will be next year sometime, hopefully, unless my holiday goes on for a really long time, which is always tempting,” series boss Chris Chibnall told EW in 2020 about the airdate.
Is Jodie Whittaker quitting Doctor Who?
UK tabloid newspaper The Daily Mirror has reported that Whittaker is set to hand in her sonic screwdriver at the close of the new series, following a tradition of Doctors leaving after around three seasons in the role.
“It’s all very hush-hush but it is known on set that Jodie is leaving and they are gearing up for a regeneration,” an insider reportedly said.
“Her departure is top secret but at some point over the coming months the arrival of the 14th Doctor will need to be filmed. It’s very exciting.”
But is this story actually true? Well, it’s hard to say – when contacted by RadioTimes.com the BBC neither confirmed nor denied the report, instead declining to comment.
Which Doctor Who monsters will return for season 13?
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…”
And 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.
Who is the new Doctor Who companion?
John Bishop has been unveiled as new companion Dan, 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.”
Welcome to the TARDIS… ✨ pic.twitter.com/WgpnYiweqR— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho) January 1, 2021
“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 coporation 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 whenever Dan makes his debut…
Will John Barrowman return to Doctor Who?
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 legs 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, like I said I’ll come back at the drop of a hat,” Barrowman previously told RadioTimes.com. Consider that hat hanging in the air…
Will coronavirus affect Doctor Who series 13?
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.
Conversely, festive special Revolution of the Daleks was filmed prior to the pandemic and so has faced fewer issues.
“I think I’m allowed to say it has been filmed!” Mandip Gill told RadioTimes.com. “Just absolutely by pure luck. I guess it’s the way it always films – they film the special with the series.”
Of course, the lengthy postproduction work required in making the special – including additional dialogue recording (ADR), editing and VFX work – is still being completed, as Chris Chibnall revealed in a recent Doctor Who column.
“Post-production continues on Revolution of the Daleks,” he wrote. “Our brilliant teams are working remotely on the visual effects shots and sending them in.
“Nothing brightens a day like a new FX shot in your inbox, no matter how early the stage it’s at.”
Who will star in Doctor Who series 13?
Incumbent Doctor Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she’ll be back for season 13, reuniting alongside Chris Chibnall for a new series of adventures – though as noted above, it’s not been confirmed whether she’ll stay beyond that.
However companions Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh will not be back for more, with the pair leaving after the special having booked big new roles in US legal drama 61st Street and a 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 the fans are keen to have him back.
“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. Y’know, the Master’s so unpredictable, he can get out of anything! I’m sure he’ll be inclined to make another visit. I hope!”
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, 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.
What will happen in Doctor Who series 13?
Plot details of the yet-to-be-filmed 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 realize 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, if Jodie Whittaker is 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.
Perhaps, after the urging of 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 and who we’d expect to cross paths with Whittaker once again before the latter leaves the series behind.
And on a smaller note, 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.”
All that, plus the introduction of Bishop’s new character Dan, are sure to make for a busy season.
Who will write Doctor Who series 13?
Series showrunner Chris Chibnall has confirmed he’ll be back in charge for Jodie Whittaker’s third 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.”
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.
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