In mid-July, the BBC announced the identity of the new Dr. Who, driving fans wild with anticipation about what’s going to happen with the beloved British science fiction series in 2018. That’s because, for the first time in the more than 50-year history of the show, the BBC selected a woman (Jodie Whittaker) to play the role of Dr. Who. Here’s a list of what else to expect next season from “Doctor Who”…
Jodie Whittaker will help to reinvent “Doctor Who” as the first-ever female Time Lord
It’s now official: Peter Capaldi will leave his role as Dr. Who at the end of the year. According to tradition, the last show of the year is always on Christmas, so on December 25, “Doctor Who” will officially transition over to a new era. According to what we know so far, that episode will feature a regeneration scene, in which Peter Capaldi will disappear from the show and be replaced by the actress Jodie Whittaker.
As you might imagine, the selection of a female lead to play the new Dr. Who has resulted in a tsunami of fan opinion online. Most of the critical reception has been positive. However, some fans of the long-time series are at least apprehensive about what it means to have a female Time Lord at the helm.
The good news is that Jodie Whittaker (best known for her roles in “Broadchurch” and “Black Mirror”) is well aware of what fans are thinking and saying online, and she’s doing her best to calm any fears. In a public statement, Jodie noted, “Fans have been through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.” In other words, if you’ve been a long-time fan of this beloved British sci-fi series, there’s no need to worry.
And, certainly, amongst directors and TV talent, there’s been an outpouring of support for Jodie Whittaker. Charlie Brooker, creator of the hugely popular “Black Mirror” series, simply tweeted out, “Great choice.” And fans have been sharing their opinions online using new hashtags like #Doctor13 making it very easy to see what everyone’s saying. (This will be the 13th Dr. Who, hence the #Doctor13 hashtag)
The nearly 50-year-old show will become bolder than ever before
The selection of Jodie Whittaker as the new Dr. Who is not the only major change coming to the show in 2018. There’s also going to be a new lead executive producer, Chris Chibnall, who will take over for Steven Moffat as the showrunner next year. In an interview, Moffat has voiced his full support for Chibnall and his evolving vision for the show, so anticipation is building.
Moffat says to expect “beautiful dialogue” and an “amazing” show that takes “Doctor Who” in a new direction. Within the BBC, there has been concern that the show was starting to lose its freshness and inventiveness. Top BBC executives have pointed to falling merchandising revenue and the need to inject a new jolt of enthusiasm into this show. Some have described the need for a “total refresh” heading into 2018.
So, from what we can glean from newspaper reports, the BBC is looking for “risk and boldness” next year. They aren’t afraid about bringing in a new executive producer and letting him determine the new look of the show. The choice of Whittaker could just be the beginning of the changes coming. According to rumors, Chibnall has been given a five-year contract to develop the show in a new direction. Chibnall himself is a huge “Doctor Who” fan, so it’s almost a certainty that he will preserve all the best features of the show, while introducing new, fresh perspectives based on his earlier work with the sci-fi series “Torchwood.”
“Doctor Who” is going to reflect the broader change in the cultural zeitgeist
Right now, it’s clear that shows are being developed, created and re-imagined with women in mind. The spectacular summer success of “Wonder Woman,” the highest-grossing film ever directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins), has set into motion a number of new initiatives. At one time, the idea of a female-led project or a project starring a female hero meant that it wasn’t possible to get as big an audience as possible. That myth has now been debunked.
And it’s not just “Wonder Woman.” Some “Doctor Who” fans have pointed to the success of “The Hunger Games,” starring Jennifer Lawrence, as further proof that sci-fi films featuring strong female leads can be hugely popular.
The real question, then, is what a new female lead will mean for the plot direction of the show in 2018. Once Peter Capaldi regenerates into Jodie Whittaker, what can we expect to happen? The same battle of good vs. evil may not change, but the tools and approaches might.
The next season of “Doctor Who” is going to appeal to a younger audience
Right now, we don’t have any advance trailers for the new season. No scenes have yet been released because shooting has not yet started. From what we know now, filming on the series will only begin in January 2018, with the new series debuting in autumn 2018. Right now, the next season is expected to be 12 episodes, plus the traditional Christmas special, for a total of 13 episodes.
That means we have more than a year for the “Doctor Who” rumor mill to start. We’ll get a big clue in the Christmas 2017 special, when Jodie Whittaker will get her big debut. Unless you’re a fan of “Broadchurch,” you might not know much about her. She’s a 34-year-old actress from Yorkshire who’s starred in a detective serial. Clearly, the choice of such a young actress is part of a broader strategy to bring in a more youthful audience.
According to BBC, that’s all part of a bold new plan to boost the popularity of the show amongst young kids. That might mean more plot lines that involve topics that are front and center with kids today. Just as time travel fascinated audiences from 40 and 50 years ago, today’s youth are fascinated by topics like artificial intelligence and robots. So what might that mean for the TARDIS?
There are a lot of science fiction programming options out there, and certainly far more than existed more than 50 years ago, when “Doctor Who” first became a sensation. What’s really interesting to note that Charlie Brooker of “Black Mirror” is really supportive of the new show, and he’s generally considered one of the most original and creative thinkers out there.
Other women may play a big role in next season’s “Doctor Who”
If you assume that the new “Doctor Who” will have more of a female point of view and perspective, then it’s only natural to take a closer look at the evolving role of Michelle Gomez. She was one of the first major “Doctor Who” characters to be reinvented as a female character. It was already proven in previous seasons that Time Lords could regenerate as different races and genders. And that’s what made it possible for Michelle Gomez to take on the role of “The Master,” a villain played traditionally by a man.
To reflect the new role of Gomez, the current version of “Doctor Who” recharacterized the villain as “The Mistress.” That move was pulled off without any complications, so maybe fans are just thinking too much about Jodie Whittaker as the new Dr. Who. It will be new to have a female Time Lord, yes, but it’s been very seamless so far to transition some traditionally male roles into female roles.
Chris Chibnall is going to bring a new artistic vision to “Doctor Who”
Chris Chibnall is hardly a newbie to the world of “Doctor Who.” Even though he’s coming over from “Broadchurch,” he has described himself as a lifelong “Doctor Who” fan. So perhaps it’s worth looking over his recent work for clues on how he will produce the next iteration of “Doctor Who.” His work with the sci-fi series “Torchwood” is especially relevant.
Judging from fan reaction online, there’s been a lot of love for Chibnall. Even diehard fans of “Doctor Who” realize that the show was in need of a refresh. Any show – even a classic – can always be improved with some fresh thinking. And Chibnall has shown everyone that he’s really a first-rate showrunner. As Moffat himself has pointed out, Chibnall is coming in a very real advantage because he already has a background as an executive director, so he won’t have to figure things out on the fly. He’s been given a clean slate to deliver a wonderful new “Doctor Who,” and it looks like he’s fully up to the task.
It’s clear that the BBC had so many different directions it could go with the next season of “Doctor Who.” Just check out all the bold-faced names who had been considered for the role of the 13th Doctor: Tilda Swinton, Kris Marshall, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (from the BBC comedy “Fleabag”), and Michaela Coel (from the drama “Chewing Gum’).
Perhaps the best advice about what to expect next season comes from Jodie Whittaker herself, who has commented on her commitment to making this the best “Doctor Who” yet. It looks like she is very focused on building strong fan rapport. She’s been reunited with Chris Chibnall (both from “Broadchurch”), so it’s clear that the two have very good chemistry together. If you’re a “Doctor Who” fan, it’s time to get very excited about what to expect in 2018. This could be the best season yet.