What’s New on ‘Doctor Who’: What We Know So Far About The New Season

The last time we checked in on our favorite thousand-year-old alien with a blue police box that’s actually a time machine, he was living the final days of his twelfth incarnation. It was Christmas Day, and we sobbed our hearts out as Peter Capaldi, clad in self-described magician-like clothes said goodbye to a part he had been dreaming to play ever since he was a little kid. Twelve regenerated, bid us farewell and yes, evidently, we were heartbroken. And yet, we were incredibly excited, because in his very shoes, in his quite literal same clothes, the Doctor swapped his grey hair for short blonde one. And we were no longer looking at Twelve. We were looking at Thirteen.

And Thirteen was a woman.

It’s been months since then, since we first heard the new Doctor utter “Brilliant!” right before her ship, as it often seems to happen, crashed into who knows what. Not a lot has been given away about what’s new on Who, but here is what we’ve been told so far about what we’ll get when the show returns in August of this year.

INTRODUCING JODIE WHITTAKER AS THE DOCTOR

Screams of both excitement and disappointment erupted on social media platforms when news of who would take over Capaldi’s place as the new Doctor reached the stands. Many fans assumed, following a long-going tradition, the new Doctor was still going to be played by a man despite constant rumors that maybe this time, just this once, the Doctor was actually going to be —wait for it— a woman.

The exaggerated trauma seemed dramatic enough when Steven Moffat, who had been the showrunner since season five, announced he was stepping away from the TARDIS after five seasons, two Doctors, and four different companions. But what followed was worse. Among speculation and theories, news erupted: Chris Chibnall, in charge of critically acclaimed shows like Torchwood, a Doctor Who spin-off, and Broadchurch, had been tasked with the role of following in Moffat’s footsteps. And Chibnall’s first official choice as Doctor Who showrunner had been to cast a woman in the infamous role.

People did not take it too well, unfortunately.

Fans threatened to stop watching the show, criticism flooded Twitter and Tumblr. “The Doctor has to be a man!” people shouted. As if it was somehow obvious that an ancient alien with two hearts and a time machine could be nothing else than a man. It wasn’t all bad news, however. Credit where credit is due. Haters had to face off excited viewers who openly expressed with immense gratitude and praise Chibnall’s “bold” choice to have Jodie Whittaker breathe life into The Doctor.

Whittaker has been showing up on our screens quite a bit recently. She played Danny’s grieving mother Beth on Broadchurch, and before that she starred in one of Black Mirror’s best episodes, The Entire History of You. Both roles have proven her to be an exquisite actress, capable of transmitting the most heart-wrenching of emotions with an ease and a rawness that amazes every time she’s on screen. She is, undoubtedly and unequivocally, an incredible actress more than capable of portraying such an iconic role, no matter what the misogynist viewers and/or critics think or write. Most of them, by the way, are the same viewers and critics who decided to hate Matt Smith before he’d even filmed his first episode simply because he was too young, and the same who despised Capaldi precisely because of the opposite fact.

The Yorkshire-born actress has had to face unbelievable and incredibly unfair backslash from the online community simply because of her gender, but her strength and resolution when dealing with it has been nothing short of elegant and respectful. She’s decided to give everything to the role, whatever it takes, and understands both the responsibility and the weight of the adventure she’s about to embark on. She’s already won the support of three previous Doctors —David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi— who have expressed that she’s indisputably the best choice for the role, and that they can’t wait to see what she brings to it.

Because, at the end of the day, here’s the deal about The Doctor: it ultimately does not matter in the least whether he is a Time Lord or she is a Time Lady. What matters is that the character is still fresh, new, bold and exciting. What matters is that the alien who leads us towards adventures across time and space uses a screwdriver, is just the right amount of mad, and is achingly kind. At the end of the day, if The Doctor has two hearts and a catchphrase, there isn’t much else we need. Other than, you know, the occasional really cool planet or weirdly amazing alien race.

So count me 100% on board for Whittaker’s incarnation of The Doctor, whatever she chooses to make it. I’m already extremely jealous of her outfit, anyway.

Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor in promo images for the new season of DOCTOR WHO. Source: BCC.

EVERY LONELY MONSTER NEEDS A COMPANION

Of course The Doctor is never alone —should never be alone, according to Amelia Pond— and so Jodie Whittaker will be accompanied by three other characters. Although it looks like Bradley Walsh’s character Graham will be The Doctor’s new official companion, following after Bill Potts, the BBC has neither confirmed nor denied the fact. We do know, however, that two other characters will also run around with The Doctor this new season: Ryan, played by Tosin Cole, and Yasmin, played by Mandip Gill. Plus, Sharon D. Clarke has been cast in a mysterious recurring role that we have practically no information about.

New companions Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh, and Tosin Cole with Jodie Whittaker. Source: BBC.

What these characters will mean and bring to the story is still to be defined, but the latter three bring a diversity to the cast and, by extension, to the show, that Doctor Who has often promised, but sometimes never fully accomplished. Although last season’s companion was both black and LGBT —yay!—, it took nearly ten seasons for that to happen.

“But Martha was also a black companion!”

You’re right! And despite the uncomfortable and unfair situation she was put in by the writers, we loved her regardless. Again, credit where credit is due.

Fans have already started wondering what the new relationship between The Doctor and her new companion(s) is going to be like, some of them dreading a possible romantic entanglement. It wouldn’t be the first time such a dynamic has been written into the show, what with Ten and Rose being the epitome of it, and Eleven and Clara hinting at romantic tension even after Twelve came along. But a female Doctor brought with it a desire of a female LGBT Doctor, and, unfortunately, it might all be too much to ask for.

Ultimately, it’s all in Chris Chibnall’s hands. He has the power to choose who The Doctor meets, how she meets them, when, where and what they’re going to be like. Although, I must admit, I was slightly disappointed that we couldn’t have two women running around time and space. It seems like if The Doctor is a woman, the companion must be a man because, of course, a woman must always, at all times, be accompanied by a man. Because two women fighting aliens and visiting Cleopatra would be Too Damn Much™. Or maybe I just got too greedily excited that one of television’s most thrilling shows could be all-female. One can dream.

ALL OF TIME AND SPACE… WHERE DO YOU WANT TO START?

Season 11 will, however, definitely give us one thing if it wants to stay true to the Who spirit: amazing and impressive new stories in unexplored time periods, and planets, galaxies, universes! Who knows —no pun intended— maybe we’ll even be lucky enough to visit alternate universes or timelines. Whatever the adventures are that await us, they’re going to be explained in nine fifty-minute episodes and an hour-long series premiere.

Maybe we get to revisit old nemesis like Missy (The Master), or rescue alien species we haven’t seen in years, even decades. The possibilities with this show, as always, are endless and endlessly creative and free. It’s why it’s so beautiful to watch.

So fret not, if you haven’t had the chance to be up-to-date on what The Doctor has been doing since you last saw her —him—, you still have time to catch up. Or, if you’d rather, tune in in August with a blank canvas and an open mind to see what the new Doctor has in store for you. Whatever the case, I promise you will likely not be disappointed with what you find.

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