April 6-7, 2024
Written by James Orr
With a slew of new information on Doctor Who materialising over the past week, it’s time to roundup everything we know about series 11 so far.
The show’s San Diego Comic-Con panel was the first time the cast, Jodie Whittaker and companions, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, have been together in public and were joined by showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive produce Matt Strevens. While we didn’t get much on story specifics, other than a juicy new trailer, there were plenty of titbits and details to gleam, such as what may or may not be in the upcoming series.
The cast has reiterated throughout the new series will be the perfect jumping on point for new fans as everything is new. New Doctor, companions, planets, monsters; series 11 even marks a new decade for New Who. If you know nothing about Doctor Who, you’ll quickly be up to speed throughout this series. But current Whovians needn’t worry, as there will still be plenty of call-backs and Easter eggs to enjoy!
Whittaker and Chibnall were very clear that the 13th Doctor’s new assistants weren’t called companions, but (best) friends. The reason being that Chibnall thought it was a little weird to introduce someone as your ‘companion’ and ‘friend’ was a more natural word and suited the 13th Doctor’s personality.
The dynamic between Whittaker and her co-stars, Cole and Gill, was on display throughout the panel and interviews, and if it’s any indication of how the gang interacts with each other on the show, it looks like they will have a blast together. Whittaker seems to be the reverse of Capaldi, as she’s very bubbly, energetic with child-like wonder. Cole, who plays Ryan, seems more chill and a little cheeky, with a Tom Holland vibe when it comes to spoilers, though he managed to be tight-lipped. Gill described her character, Yaz, as tired of an ordinary life and asking for more; and she definitely gets her wish. The Doctor’s third friend, Graham, played by the slightly older Bradley Walsh, wasn’t available during Comic-Con, though the cast described him as daft, funny, and a childish prankster; in a good way!
Chibnall said he purposefully filled the next series with new monsters, with each episode being a standalone story, so anyone can jump in at any time. The cast at SDCC said they only have the finale left to film and they haven’t encountered any returning villains. So, does that mean someone or something will return at the end of the series? Well, Chibnall did rule out one thing: Daleks. It’s sure to be sad news to some, but as Daleks have featured prominently in most series of New Who, some fans are a little burnt-out with the Doctor’s oldest foe.
There are also rumours every year of a Torchwood return, to which Chibnall answered in an interview with SFX, “Not really this year.” Though you’ll be able to fill your Captain Jack Harkness void this year and share your grief at Supanova Adelaide and Brisbane with upcoming “Supa-Star” guest John Barrowman. Though Chibnall’s answer does leave the door open for the future…
Whittaker also showed off her Doctor’s new outfit at the Her Universe Fashion Show, telling the audience that the Doctor’s clothes represent the sky, with the dark lining of her coat representing space and the sky she falls through at the end of the 2017 Christmas special, and the brighter external colours showing the new dawn for her Doctor.
But of course, the Doctor’s most important accessory is her sonic screwdriver, and the 13th’s is the most dramatic change in New Who. It looks much more alien, with its curves and light grey shell contrasting with the orange bulb, and it apparently even rotates! It’s still not totally unfamiliar, as it seems to retain the classic sonic ‘wuzzing’ sound we all love. Chibnall also mentioned that the Doctor gains it in a “very specific way” and it’s made with “interesting components” during the first episode, which airs sometime in our Spring.
It looks like the new series is set to be the biggest change to Doctor Who since the revival in 2005. Everything and everyone looks so fresh, but it all feels familiar as well, with the three friends, harking back to the very first series with William Hartnell’s Doctor and his trio.
Lead image: Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor – (C) BBC – Photographer: Elliot Wilcox