Doctor Who’s festive special won’t reference coronavirus – but show bosses considered adding pandemic references

Exclusive: Chris Chibnall says the BBC sci-fi series should be "about escapism".

Yaz Graham Ryan

The global pandemic might feel as though it’s pervaded every aspect of our waking lives, but Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall is determined that the BBC sci-fi series will provide “escapism”.

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Chibnall told Radio Times that while he briefly considered adding references to COVID-19 into Doctor Who Christmas special Revolution of the Daleks, but ultimately decided that “it needed to be separate” from real-world events.

“So much of Doctor Who is about escapism,” the showrunner said. “There was a few days when I thought ‘Oh you know, we could do something, we could do a couple of pick-up scenes’ – but actually it exists in its own world, and I think that’s good.

“Frankly, here’s an hour of your life where you won’t have to listen to people talking about the pandemic… that’s my solemn vow to you! Generally the threats in Doctor Who are coming from different sources.”

Revolution of the Daleks was actually filmed in late 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, with Chibnall admitting that the Doctor Who team feels “very fortunate” to have completed the special with COVID-19 having minimal impact on the episode.

“It’s really strange, because it was written in the summer of 2019, and we filmed it in the autumn, so we’ve had it for a year basically,” he explained. “And yes, we feel very fortunate that we planned ahead, and the weird thing is, watching it throughout the year, how it resonates in different ways than it did when it was originally written.

Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor in Revolution of the Daleks (BBC)
BBC

“There are lots of things where as the year has gone on I’ve been like, ‘that’s going to be interesting for the special’ – but we feel good about it, 70 minutes of Doctor Who for you that we managed to keep.”

Revolution of the Daleks will mark the return of Captain Jack (John Barrowman) to Doctor Who, with the immortal adventurer teaming with the Doctor’s companions to face the Daleks while the Time Lord herself (Jodie Whittaker) languishes in space prison.

Additional reporting by Huw Fullerton

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Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks will air on BBC One over the festive period – check out our guide to the best Christmas TV and see what else is on with our TV Guide