Television Time: The 13th Doctor, Her Companions and Doctor Who Head Writer Chris Chibnall Share What To Expect From Series 12
Since her introduction as the thirteenth incarnation of the titular Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker has charmed longtime fans and newcomers to one of the world’s favourite sci-fi television shows. As the first female Doctor, Whittaker’s performance and the hijinks showrunner Chris Chibnall had in store for her proved that the show remains as thrilling as ever regardless of the Doctor’s gender. Promising even more interplanetary adventures and fascinating alien species, Series 12 of Doctor Who returns in January, and we couldn’t be more excited for its premiere.
In the lead-up to its return, Whittaker and co-stars Bradley Walsh (Graham), Tosin Cole (Ryan) and Mandip Gill (Yaz), along with head writer Chris Chibnall, shared a little more about what fans could expect from the new series. Whittaker, for one, was already excited when she first picked up the script, saying: “Reading episode one before we all came back, I knew it was going to be very exciting because we were going to be filming in South Africa, which is always a winner as well as Cardiff which we love. It was really exciting to revisit certain relationships but also to have new ones as well with new and old foes.”
For Whittaker, now that she’s been formally introduced to the world, Series 12 has finally let go of the handlebars, and really lets fans get to grips with this new incarnation of the Doctor. “What’s exciting about shooting this series is, for those guys, particularly the fam, the relationships are pre-established,” says Whittaker. “It’s not necessarily a “getting to know you” for the audience but what this season is about is the individual characters going on their own journey and particularly for the Doctor it’s a series about self-discovery.
Says head writer Chris Chibnall on what to expect: “I think what you have is the familiar Doctor Who blend of contemporary stories on Earth now. You’ve got some historical parts, going into periods that we’ve never been to before, historical figures we haven’t seen before. Some new planets, some new places in space and some very familiar faces from the Doctor’s past.”
“There’s a lot of things we have that possibly leave big surprises and there are small surprises. There are lines here and there for people who have been watching the show for 50 years. Just little gifts to long term fans as well as big gifts to long term fans. There will be surprises about the Doctor and her friends and it’s a big surprising journey.”
Adds Bradley Walsh: “We’ve got a lot of historical events going on as well, sort of true to life. I’ve got to hide my costume basically, don’t want to give anything away. The main historical factual stuff is the stuff I actually love. We’ve got more of that, it’s brilliant. We’ve got two fantastic opening episodes and they really are brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed those. We’re making an episode at the moment which is my sort of stuff. Historical based and I can’t tell you where it’s based but, it’s fantastic, it’s really good. It seems like an odd question because I can’t really answer that other than saying it’s fantastic.”
If anything, it seems that Series 12 is still going to surprise audience members with the sheer amount of content it plans on introducing, kicking it up a notch to somehow become even more thrilling than ever before. Says Mandip Gill: “I think some of the monsters are going to surprise people. It seems to be even bigger and better than ever before. Guest leads, I’ve talked about them loads, they’re really going to surprise people. Storylines, again, are really vast and there’s loads of different themes and there’s historical episodes, futuristic episodes and I think that mixture again is going to work really well. I think we’re on a different scale now. ”
Filming is not without its challenges however, and as Chibnall states, there is so much ambition that goes into this series in knowing that they have to impress fans who’ve been eagerly anticipating it. “We knew that we had to come back with something big, fun and energetic, and action-packed so we talked a lot about the woman who fell to earth,” says Chibnall. “We wanted to come back with our gang on top form, having a great time. Big guest characters, good locations. To set a marker for the series is like, we’re back, we’re bigger than ever. We got more explosions, we got more crashes, more monsters, lots of surprises and it’s the most fun you can possibly have on television.”
On what he’s excited to see unfold onscreen, Tosin Cole comments: “This is the first time we kind of really see (Whittaker) as the new doctor, really unraveled, really unsure and really trying to make decisions and the pressure is getting to her and how it affects the relationship with the group, so I think they can look out for that. That’s going to be really interesting to watch and how the dynamics shift, how they stick together as a team throughout all the pressures and her seeing familiar enemies and stuff, familiar people and how that shifts her mood and energy.”
For Whittaker though, the best experiences she has had on the series is how spoilt she feels with all the guests coming on board. “In our first episode, there was a particular national treasure that I got to sit next to in-between scenes and fully stalk for the whole three days they were in,” she says. “The fact that we get to work with people who are really established actors who you know their reputation goes beyond and you are so excited to meet them, but also be part of people who are maybe at the start of their journey for their career as well. Andy Pryor is a fantastic casting director because continuously he introduces us to a really exciting bunch of creatives.”
As for why he thinks the show continues to garner as much love and attention as it does, Chibnall states: “I think the fact that anybody can be a hero, I think that there are lots of stories that are still untold, about history, about people. I think what’s so great about Doctor Who, and hopefully what’s so great about this series is, anybody can feel that the 13th Doctor and her friends are going to turn up in their front room or garden or street or office and say, do you want to come inside? Do you want to come on this journey with us? I think that’s what’s always appealing about this show and I think, for the viewers, the variety of places that the show goes, the range of people that these characters meet and the range of monsters that they are going to have to battle with this year. It’s got a bit of everything. It’s got actions, scares, humor, warmth, amazing characters, brilliant actors and, it’s got a TARDIS. Nobody else has got a TARDIS.”
Catch the premiere of Doctor Who – Series 12 on Friday, 10th January 2020 with episodes released weekly at 8am.. Available on BBC First (StarHub Channel 502) and BBC Player.