Doctor Who: What should be scrapped – or added – before the series returns?

Sontarans! Old companions! A 60th anniversary special! We asked the fans, and here's what they want next for Jodie Whittaker's Doctor...

Jodie Whittaker TARDIS

Following the release of Revolution of the Daleks on New Year’s Day, Doctor Who fans are in for a bit of a wait for new episodes, with months of filming left to complete before we see more adventures for Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord.

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But as we wait, we decided to ask a closed online group of Doctor Who fans a crucial question – what would they like to see in season 13? Which monsters, returning characters and storylines should be explored, and which details should be ignored entirely?

Do they want new companions, old companions or something inbetween, and what sort of places should the Doctor travel to? And perhaps most importantly of all, what should be dropped from Doctor Who before its next return?

The last time we asked our online panel this question back in 2019 they aced it, with requests for more Cybermen, the Master and the return of John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness all granted in series 12 – but with those episodes now in the rearview mirror, there’s a new set of Whovian demands to be met.

So as Doctor thirteen heads to series 13, here’s what fans are hoping to see.

Sontarans

Sontaran
Sontarans as seen in Doctor Who (BBC)

The dome-headed clone warriors haven’t had a proper storyline since 2008 (barring a few later appearances for Dan Starkey’s Strax), and plenty of fans are keen for the Sontarans to get the update treatment in series 13.

“I’m hoping for a really menacing Sontaran story, something closer to their appearances in the ’70s,” one fan wrote, while another expressed a wish for “old monsters [like] The Sontarans.”

And they may be in luck, with leaked filming photos suggesting that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor may be facing off with new-look Sontarans in the next series already. But of course, Whovians have other monsters in their sights too…

…or other familiar foes

The Waters of Mars
The Flood in The Waters of Mars (Doctor Who, BBC)

While our panel weren’t too concerned with bringing back familiar baddies like the Daleks or the Cybermen again, some were keen to give another go to monsters from more recent eras of Doctor Who.

“I’d love to see the return of some ‘classic’ Nu-who monsters like the Vashta Nerada, the Flood (Waters of Mars) and maybe even the Toclafane,” one fan said, while another added that “the Ood are usually great.”

Meanwhile, other fans still thought there were some areas of classic Who’s rogues’ gallery still worth exploring.

“I’d love to see an episode featuring Omega, especially since we’ve been dealing more with Gallifrey’s past,” one responder wrote.

A new companion

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

While we now know John Bishop is joining the series as new companion Dan, our responders didn’t when we first asked for their series 13 wishlist – though quite a few of them were already hoping for some new blood on the TARDIS.

Though many fans were, understandably, banking on a character they’d already seen before.

“I’d like a third TARDIS crew member, maybe Jack back again,” wrote one fan, echoing the support of many keen to see John Barrowman’s Time Agent (who played a guest role in New Year’s special Revolution of the Daleks) have a more permanent role in the show.

“If John Barrowman is willing to reappear, I believe making Captain Jack a full-time companion would be a love letter to us Whovians,” another fan said.

However, others thought it could be time to reform a villain within the “fam,” suggesting that Revolution of the Daleks baddie Robertson (played by Chris Noth) could be a fun addition to the mix.

“It’d be fun to see more of Chris Noth’s character, maybe as a reluctant passenger on the TARDIS, wholly out of his element and trying to keep his cool while being tormented by the Doctor,” one responder suggested.

…or no new companions

Jodie Whittaker's TARDIS team (BBC)
Jodie Whittaker’s TARDIS team (BBC)

On the other hand, some fans had expressed their preference to see “the Doctor and Yaz as a duo team,” without adding any new faces to the team. Still, we’re sure they’ll get used to Dan eventually…

“Personally I really hope it stays as 13 and Yaz,” one fan wrote. “She has a different relationship with the Doctor and I really want to see that expanded.”

However, our panel also offered a note of caution, suggesting that if Yaz Khan were to be the one and only companion in season 13 she (and her family) may need a little more development.

“I prefer having only one companion, but they need to build a deeper connection with Yaz – she doesn’t feel as complex as some of the other companions in New Who,” one person told us.

“I’d also LOVE more of the Khan family in between,” another said.

“Ideally I’d love [Yaz’s mum] Najia to be so nosey she sneaks off and follows Yaz into the Tardis and ends up on an adventure or two!!”

Presumably, even with the addition of this new companion a little more TLC for Yaz wouldn’t go amiss.

The return of the Master and the Fugitive Doctor

Doctor Who
Sacha Dhawan as The Master and Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor in Doctor Who (BBC)

Doctor Who series 12 included some massive twists, most notably the unmasking of Sacha Dhawan as a new version of the Master followed by the reveal that Jo Martin’s Ruth Clayton was secretly playing an unknown past version of the Doctor.

And understandably, plenty of fans are excited to see these two renegade Time Lords come back in the next series – assuming they do turn up, of course.

“I feel like we haven’t seen the last of Sacha Dhawan’s Master, and I really hope we see him return next season!” one fan told us.

“I want the return of Sacha Dhawan and Jo Martin,” another said, while a third said it “would be nice to see more development with the Fugitive Doctor and the Division.”

Fingers crossed we’ll get some answers when the series returns…

More returning characters in general

David Tennant and Georgia Tennant in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)
David Tennant and Georgia Tennant in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)
BBC

But of course, the wish list for returning characters didn’t end there – and following the return of the Master and Captain Jack Harkness last year fans were thinking big for series 13, speculating that it could be high time for the return of Georgia Tennant’s Jenny (aka the Doctor’s daughter) and some favourite companions from years past.

“Jenny in a guest spot would be fun,” suggested one responding Whovian, while another wished for “the return of Torchwood and the Doctor’s Daughter.”

“I’m stretching here, but a few more cameo appearances from old companions would be great,” another told us. “I feel like [Freema Agyeman’s] Martha would have a great dynamic with 13.”

And others fancied going even further back to some companions from the classic series

“Please bring in either (or both) Carole Ann Ford and William Russell as Susan and Ian,” a fan told us.

Doctor Who's William Russell and Carole Ann Ford
Doctor Who’s William Russell and Carole Ann Ford
Big Finish

“It is long past time the TV show let us know more about Susan’s place in the Doctor’s life and what became of her. And I would love to maybe see Ian as a sort of ‘behind-the-scenes’ group leader/advisor for previous companions of the Doctor that helps to defend the Earth against threats.

“Dove-tailing into that, let [Sophie Aldred’s] Ace return so we can see her running the A Charitable Earth organisation and helping the current Doctor in some way.”

“I think it’s time for a return to UNIT,” a different fan suggested. “It was teased in Resolution so it seems Chris Chibnall hasn’t forgotten about them.”

And of course, some fans are still hankering for a multi-Doctor special.

“The Thirteenth, Twelfth and Tenth Doctors should do something together,” they said.

Well, we do hear a significant anniversary is coming up… but first, more on season 13.

More two-part stories and long arcs – and a lighter tone

Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Haley McGee as Dorothy Skerrit – Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 4 – Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America

Many fans expressed a hope for “clever and imaginative writing” in the next series, with specific calls coming for more season-long arcs (following on from the Timeless Child arc of series 12) and multi-part stories among the new episodes.

“They should include a season long arc looking at the Doc’s origin story etc,” one person told us. “This allows for world building – see The Mandalorian and to a lesser extent Star Trek: Discovery.”

“I’d like to see a nice arc, perhaps thematically tighter throughout with all eight episodes seemingly tied together in some way by a common thread,” another Whovian suggested.

And despite a curtailed episode count, the fans were also hoping for a few stories that tied closely together. One fan called for “a really frightening multi-parter,” while another noted that extending the length of certain episodes could help the story feel big.

“Despite series 13 having the number of episodes reduced, concluding with a two-part finale would work best by having both halves extended to 60-65 minutes,” they wrote.

But what should the episodes be like? After a year like 2020, one fan knew exactly what they wanted…

“Escapism,” they suggested. “No real world events or themes or anything like that.

“Doctor Who needs to be fun sci-fi for series 13. Like what The Mandalorian is doing.”

A big moment for Jodie Whittaker

Doctor who
Doctor who

With one or two fans speculating that season 13 could be Jodie Whittaker’s last, at least one fan was hoping there’d be some big moments for the Thirteenth Doctor.

“I want the chance for the Doctor to have a fury of a Time Lord moment,” they wrote. “All the Doctors have had a chance to get really angry, except her.”

And finally… a build-up to Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary

Paul McGann, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and John Hurt in a Day of the Doctor poster (BBC)
Paul McGann, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Billie Piper and John Hurt in a Day of the Doctor poster (BBC)

While it’s unclear exactly when Doctor Who series 13 will air, it wasn’t lost on fans that whether it was late 2021 or early 2022, time was narrowing before a significant anniversary – Doctor Who’s 60th birthday on November 23rd 2023.

“Ultimately, I’d love it if this series would at least start setting up something big for the 60th anniversary,” one Whovian told us. “That’s only 3 years away now, after all!”

And some even had a few ideas…

“For the 60th anniversary I’ve had an idea for ages of the Daleks using a revamped version of their time machine from 1965 to try to undo all the Doctors’ past lives, maybe in the process getting to the bottom of the Timeless Child business,” one of our responders wrote.

“We could meet a few of the Doctors glimpsed in The Brain of Morbius!”

Who knows? Given how big The Day of the Doctor was in 2013, it’s certainly possible that something even more epic is in the works for Doctor Who’s next 10-year anniversary.

For now though, it seems like fans have plenty to ponder about the upcoming series. Check back this time next year to see how much they got right this time…

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Doctor Who will return to BBC One. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.