Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor and her new Tardis team have landed – but what exactly can we expect from Doctor Who under the control of new showrunner Chris Chibnall?
Much will remain a mystery from week to week, as the crew are keen to keep things secret even now that the series has begun airing, but here’s everything we do know about Doctor Who series 11…
This article will be updated regularly
Doctor Who now airs on BBC1 on Sunday nights, and the next episode comes to BBC1 (and BBC America) at 6.25pm GMT on Sunday 9th December.
“New Doctor, new home!” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a release.
“Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is about to burst into Sunday nights — and make the end of the weekend so much more exciting.
“Get everybody’s homework done, sort out your Monday clothes, then grab some special Sunday night popcorn, and settle down with all of the family for Sunday night adventures across space and time. (Also, move the sofa away from the wall so parents can hide behind it during the scary bits). The Thirteenth Doctor is falling from the sky and it’s going to be a blast.”
Given the start date, the series 11 finale will probably air on Sunday 9th December, meaning there’s only a short wait before the festive special on New Year’s Day (see below).
At the moment the BBC is keeping its cards close to its chest about the series’ final episode, which is called The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos and guest stars Downton Abbey’s Phyllis Logan, Game of Thrones’ Mark Addy and Percelle Ascott.
The official synopsis for the series finale reads:
On the planet of Ranskoor Av Kolos, lies the remains of a brutal battlefield. But as the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan answer nine separate distress calls, they discover the planet holds far more secrets. Who is the mysterious commander with no memory? What lies beyond the mists? Who or what are the Ux?
There actually won’t – because we’re getting a New Year’s Day special instead.
“We’re thrilled to be starting the New Year with a bang on BBC1, as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends face a terrifying alien threat in an action-packed, hour-long special adventure for all the family,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a statement, confirming that the special will air on Tuesday, January 1st 2019 instead of Christmas Day.
“We’re delighted the Doctor and her companions will be welcoming BBC1 audiences into 2019 with this exciting new episode,” Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, added.
“The Doctor’s fans are in for a special treat on the first day of the new year.”
At the moment details about the special (including its title) are limited, but we do have the below plot synopsis to tease what we can expect:
As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring, from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?
Happy Who Year, indeed.
Rumours have emerged suggesting that Doctor Who will have a “gap year” after the current series, with filming delays forcing the BBC to move the prospective series 12 to an early 2020 release (rather than sticking with the October start date of the current series).
But are the rumours true? Well, possibly not, as we explain here…
There is indeed, and we’ve already seen it –the all-new ship interior was debuted in series 11’s second episode, The Ghost Monument, and it’s quite a departure from previous versions of the Tardis.
Built around a golden nest of time crystals with endless, shifting walls, it’s a far more alien look than we saw during the year’s of Whittaker’s predecessor Peter Capaldi. Even the doors of the Tardis have had a rethink, with the blue police box exterior (which has had some minor cosmetic alterations) extending a little further into the control room in the new design.
You can read more about our thoughts on the new Tardis here.
After months of secrecy, the BBC has finally unveiled a starry guest cast for the new series, with the likes of Chris Noth, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Mark Addy among the actors joining Whittaker and her team this year.
The series will also guest star the already-revealed Lee Mack and Alan Cumming along with Shaun Dooley, Susan Lynch, Art Malik, Hamza Jeetoa, Downton Abbey’s Siobhan Finneran and Phyllis Logan, musician Doc Brown (aka Ben Bailey-Smith), Vinette Robinson, Amita Suman, Lois Chimimba, Suzanne Packer, Uncle’s Brett Goldstein, Shane Zaza, Josh Bowman and Shobna Gulati.
At the moment, it’s a bit unclear which episode all these actors will turn up in, but we’re definitely excited to see them in action.
We certainly thought so – Jodie Whittaker nails the central role, and the dynamics within the Tardis team promise some serious dramatic tension in the weeks to come.
You can check out our spoiler-free review here, or watch our extended chat about the episode above.
Now that the episode has aired, you can also check out our more in-depth reviews and recaps.
Generally speaking Chris Chibnall has suggested the series will focus on new threats in the new adventures, and in the very first episodes – The Woman Who Fell to Earth and The Ghost Monument – we meet a new alien race called the Stenza (pictured) and a strange bioweapon known as The Remnants.
“We’ve got a new Doctor, all-new characters, all-new monsters, all-new stories,” Chibnall told Radio Times earlier this year.
And apparently even the iconic Daleks won’t be getting a run-out this year.
“There are no [Daleks]!” he told RadioTimes.com.
“I don’t know how many times I need to say it. There are no old monsters this series. OK?”
There is indeed! The BBC announced earlier this year that Bafta Breakthrough Brit Segun Akinola will be the new composer for the 11th series of Doctor Who, taking over from Murray Gold.
And among his other duties Akinola has created “a fresh take on the legendary theme tune,” which incorporates elements from Delia Derbyshire’s 1963 original and (having heard it) is a wonderful take on the iconic tune.
“I really just stuck to the original [theme], like the very very first one, and tried to glean as much from that as I could,” Akinola told us in an exclusive video interview.
“And tried to honour it as much as I could as well.”
“It’s such an iconic theme, one that people walking down the street can whistle, and it’s one that people really care about as well,” he added.
“So yes, there was definitely pressure. Not that anyone, Matt [Strevens, executive producer] or Chris or anyone, was putting that pressure on me. I was kind of putting it on myself!
“It’s Doctor Who! And it’s really great, but it’s also a really big deal.
The new theme debuted with Jodie Whittaker’s first episode, The Woman Who Fell to Earth.
Just a couple of months before series 11’s airing it was finally revealed which writers were working on the series alongside showrunner Chris Chibnall, with acclaimed author Malorie Blackman (best known for novels like Nought and Crosses and Pig Heart Boy) probably the best-known name among them.
She’s joined by Skins writer Ed Hime, Doctors and Casualty writer/playwright Joy Wilkinson, Murdered by My Father writer Vinay Patel and experienced screenwriter Pete McTighe, who is probably best known for being the “originating writer” on popular Australian drama Wentworth.
“We have a team of writers who’ve been working quietly and secretly for a long time now, crafting characters, worlds and stories to excite and move you,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a release.
“Hailing from a range of backgrounds, tastes and styles, here’s what unites them: they are awesome people as well as brilliant at their job. (It matters!) They love Doctor Who. And they’ve all worked above and beyond the call of duty in an effort to bring audiences something special, later this year.”
Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall is taking over the series from ex-Head Writer Steven Moffat, having previously written several episodes including The Power of Three, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, 42 and Silurian two-parter The Hungry Earth/ Cold Blood. He was also the de facto Head Writer during the first two series of Who spin-off Torchwood, writing episodes including Day One, Cyberwoman, Countrycide, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Exit Wounds.
It is assumed that Chibnall will write five episodes for the new series, while the newly-announced series 11 writers (none of whom have worked on the sci-fi series before) will make up the other five. So far, we know that Blackman wrote the series third episode with Chibnall, Patel wrote the series’ sixth episode and that Wilkinson wrote another set to air later in the series.
Is Doctor Who still filming?
At time of writing, no – series 11 wrapped in early August, around 10 months after it first began in late October 2017. It’s believed that filming for a Christmas special took place during that time also.
Is there a trailer for the new series?
Yes – there are three. A special teaser trailer was aired during the 2018 World Cup final that introduced the new Doctor and her companions, with footage showing the Time Lord’s influence (depicted as golden regeneration energy) invigorating and changing her Tardis team’s lives before Whittaker herself emerged with a smile.
You can watch the teaser (which doesn’t contain footage from the series) above – and keep an eye out for that Beano Easter Egg…
And now two full trailers for the series have debuted as well, showing off Whittaker and her Tardis team in action. Check them out now!
Is there a new sonic screwdriver?
There is, and it looks very different. Created by series designer Arwel Jones, the new screwdriver has a more traditionally sci-fi look than some recent versions, and appears to have been made from scratch by Whittaker’s Doctor.
The new incarnation of the gadget has a curved handle that’s slightly separate from the main screwdriver, containing stripped lights to match the LED light on the end. It’s coloured silver with dark cracks through it, and fits neatly in Whittaker’s hand.
In another interesting change, the light on the new screwdriver is an orange-y colour – different from the lighter blues and greens of more recent versions of the gadget, though other colours have appeared in the series’ run – while the LED itself appears more organic and crystalline, coming from the alien technology the Doctor uses to build the device in the series’ first episode.
“It’s a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic sonic screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences,” designer Arwel Jones said in a release.
“I can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it!”
What is the new series like?
According to Jodie Whittaker, the overall feel of Doctor Who series 11 will be “hopeful and fizzing with wonder“.
“This is Doctor Who, so we know there will be a Tardis, a sonic screwdriver – and me and my new friends [which is what companions are now called],” she told Radio Times in an exclusive interview.
“We’ve all had the best time making it, so hopefully you don’t hate it!”
“It’s going to be exciting, emotional and the most enormous fun,” Chibnall added.
More recently, executive producer Matt Strevens said the new episodes were “a box of chocolates of a series,” explaining that “there’s something different in every episode.”
“The whole series, the episodes, the themes – there’s so much truth and emphasis on relationships and friendships and stuff like that,” star Mandip Gill also told RadioTimes.com.
“I just think there’s something for everyone.”
Can I watch Jodie Whittaker’s series if I haven’t seen Doctor Who before?
According to Chris Chibnall you can indeed, with the screenwriter hoping series 11 can be a good jumping-on point for viewers.
“If you’ve never seen Doctor Who, or want to introduce your children or family and friends to it, this series is the perfect point to start,” he told Radio Times.
“It was really important to me that there’s no barrier to entry. You don’t need to know about anything that’s come before.”
In other words, it’s a bit of a clean slate for the series – though if the first trailer’s anything to go by, there may still be some sneaky Easter Eggs for longtime fans…
Who plays the Doctor?
It seems unlikely you don’t already know this if you’re reading this article but just in case: Jodie Whittaker is the current and Thirteenth incarnation of time-travelling face-changing alien the Doctor, with Whittaker making history as the first female actor to play the role.
“The pressure on any actor coming into the role – man or woman – is huge because they’re big boots to fill,” Whittaker told Radio Times. “And for me there’s been 12 pairs of boots.
“Obviously for Whovians this time the change has taken a very different direction than it has before. In a way, though, there is liberation in that new direction: the pressure is less for me because I can only do this my way.”
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Which actors play Graham, Yaz and Ryan in the new Doctor Who series?
Last year it was revealed that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor has a lot of new faces joining her on her new adventures, with long-rumoured companion Bradley Walsh joining the cast of Doctor Who in the role of Graham and newcomers Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill also enlisting in the Tardis crew as Ryan and Yasmin.
“The new Doctor is going to need new friends,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in a statement. We’re thrilled to welcome Mandip, Tosin and Bradley to the Doctor Who family. They’re three of Britain’s brightest talents and we can’t wait to see them dive into brand new adventures with Jodie’s Doctor.
Jodie Whittaker said: “I am so excited to share this huge adventure with Mandip, Tosin and Bradley. It’s a dream team!”
Bradley Walsh added: “I remember watching William Hartnell as the first Doctor. Black and white made it very scary for a youngster like myself. I was petrified but even though I’d watch most of it from behind the sofa through my fingers, I became a fan. I then queued up for ages to get into the Carlton picture house in Watford to watch the great Peter Cushing appear as the Doctor in a full length feature film made in glorious colour. Am I thrilled to be part of this whole ground breaking new dawn for the Doctor?? Oh yes!”
Mandip Gill said: “I am over the moon to be joining the Doctor Who family. This is an iconic show with an amazing fanbase and I look forward to everything that brings. Certain roles seem unattainable and this is one of those, so much so I didn’t believe it to be true for the first few weeks. To be working alongside the likes of Jodie, Bradley and my old friend Tosin is thrilling. This show is worlds away from the work I’ve done previously and that’s the part that excites me the most.”
Tosin Cole said: “I’m grateful and excited to be a part of this journey with the team. I’m looking forward to jumping in this Doctor Who universe.”
What is the new Doctor Who logo?
A brand new logo for series 11 was unveiled by Whittaker at a BBC Worldwide showcase earlier this year, alongside a smaller “insignia” for the series. A brilliant orange gold, the new logo is certainly a contrast to what’s come before and includes an intriguing stylised streak, striking through the opening “D” before re-emerging through the “H” and “O”.
At first glance the line seems to allude to the series’ time travel roots (a literal timeline?) while also looking a little like a shooting star. Or maybe that trail is instead left by the Tardis itself, as suggested by a newly-released animation with music from British musician and sound artist Matthew Herbert. The video features the Doctor’s time travel capsule bursting through a crystalline debris field to illuminate the new lettering.
The new logo was produced by creative agency Little Hawk, working closely with showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens. The team also created a special “insignia” for the new series – check it out below.
“The Doctor Who logo and insignia are the quintessential signifier for the brand,” BBC Worldwide Executive Creative Director Rafaela Perera said.
“Our aim was to create modern and elegant designs that were anchored in the things that we love most about Doctor Who.”
All official Doctor Who merchandise featuring the new logo will be available at selected retailers from 20th February 2018.
How many episodes are there in the new Doctor Who series?
It’s been confirmed that Doctor Who series 11 will have 10 episodes plus a Christmas special, marking a slight reduction from the 12-or-13 episode seasons fans have become used to (though more episodes in a year than we got during some of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who tenure).
How long are the new Doctor Who episodes?
The first episode of series 11 was 60 minutes long, while the subsequent adventures will take place over 50-minute instalments.
This is slightly longer than the usual 45-minute episodes Doctor Who has favoured since the series returned in 2005, so despite the shorter number of episodes in some ways we’re getting more Who than ever this year.
What does the new Doctor wear?
There’s no sign of Peter Capaldi’s sonic glasses, but the new Time Lord’s outfit includes deep blue trousers and socks, light brown braces and a black shirt with yellow, green and red stripes. And to top it off, the costume comes with a swish large grey coat (which may actually be blue, confusingly), with the same coloured stripe pattern on its edges. And check outthat earring! We can spot stars and a possible handshake symbol in there – how about you?
A far cry from the black hoody seen in Whittaker’s announcement video, the outfit is a typically colourful and eccentric look for the Doctor – and it’s chock-full of references and callbacks to previous Doctors, as we explain in more detail here.
What does the new series look like?
Apparently series 11 will be the most cinematic era of Doctor Who yet – at least when it comes to the cameras. According to trade magazine Broadcast, the production is being supplied with brand-new cameras and lenses which will give Doctor Who a razzle-dazzle upgrade.
To get technical for a moment, production house Films at 59, which supplies the BBC’s Doctor Who studios in Roath Lock in Cardiff, is using Cooke anamorphic Prime lenses and Angenieux Optimo anamorphic zooms that will be used with Arri Alexa XT and Alex Mini cameras for series 11.
The intention is to bring an increased cinematic look to the show which started production at the end of October – and according to Bristol-based Films at 59’s Dave Wride, this means a whole new visual feel to the show.
“The BBC have made a monumental leap here to enhance the look of Doctor Who and I’m sure the fans will not be disappointed with the distinctly cinematic results that this lens and camera combo will afford them,” he said.
In the end, the effort totally pays off (as we explain in our review) – really, Doctor Who has never looked better.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Sundays