News

Upcoming Doctor Who Will Reset the Franchise

Six things we learned about the new season and new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, at Comic-Con.

by | July 19, 2018 | Comments


Doctor Who made its triumphant return to Comic-Con International: San Diego on Thursday, with new star Jodie Whittaker and co-stars Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill making their first public appearance together to an appreciative crowd of fans and more than a few excited members of the press. And though the group, alongside producer Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens, were on guard about spoilers, they did offer a few details about the upcoming season and made one new key prop reveal. Here are six of the key details we learned while spending the first day of Comic-Con with Doctor Who.


1. The Doctor Is Still the Doctor

While Whittaker made massive headlines by becoming the first woman to play the Doctor, her approach to the role remains the same as the previous performers in the part. “I have two hearts; there are really no rules,” she said during a press conference early on Thursday. To her, the character, at its hearts, remains unchanged.

“The thing about this role is that gender is irrelevant … and that’s incredibly liberating,” she said. “I’ve never approached a role from How would a woman do this?, and playing the Doctor means playing an alien — all those rules are irrelevant.”

After checking with Chibnall if she could reveal one more detail, she added, “sometimes within episodes, people’s responses are different because they’re speaking to a woman. And that’s why this [season] will be so layered — because of those reactions.”

Later at the panel, she was asked if there was a single defining element of her Doctor.

“To me, the Doctor is a pillar of hope striving for brightness and inclusion,” she responded, a theme that Chibnall picked up on.

“Hope is Jodie’s Doctor,” he added. “She’s still the character you loved. It’s important she’s a pacifist and that she has a sense of humor. But she’s a pillar of hope. We need that in these times.”


2. Season 11 Is a Reset of Sorts

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 19: Jodie Whittaker walks onstage during the Doctor Who: BBC America's Official panel during Comic-Con International 2018 at San Diego Convention Center on July 19, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

One idea repeated by Whittaker, her fellow actors, and the producers is that the arrival of a new Doctor means the show is once again fresh and accessible to those unfamiliar with the program. “You don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of Doctor Who to enjoy it,” Whittaker said.

Chibnall, a life-long fan of the program, added, “There will be little things [fans will] recognize, but what we want to see is where the show goes next.”

“We have 10 standalone stories, and lots of new characters for you to fall in love with,” he added. “My big message to you is that this year is the perfect jumping-on point for that person in your life who’s never seen Doctor Who. Set them down for Jodie’s first episode and say, ‘See!?’”


3. The Doctor Will Not Face Any Old Villains — Yet

While season 11 is still a few weeks from completing production, Chibnall declared, rather emphatically, that the Thirteenth Doctor has not encountered any of her old adversaries like the Master, Daleks, Cybermen, or Zarbi. His revelation shouldn’t suggest she won’t meet old foes, however, as the producer added a “yet” to his comment. But he also added that he has not considered which enemies might return or even when they might.

“There’s a lot of new things: new world, new characters, lots of new guest characters, new camera angles,” he added.

“Much better catering,” joked Strevens.


4. The Companions Are Now the Doctor’s Friends

Doctor Who season 11 poster (BBC America)
(Photo by BBC America)

Click image to view larger

Over the years, the people who travel with the Doctor have been known as assistants and, more formally, companions. But with season 11, Yasmin (Gill), Ryan (Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) will be referred to as “friends,” a change in the nomenclature that Chibnall felt was due.

“It’s just an organic progression,” he said.

Of course, the change is not a hard rule and, as Whittaker added, “I still call them companions.”

According to Gill, Yasmin is a 19-year-old from Sheffield who “enjoys her job, but she thinks she can do a little more, and she gets a little bit more.” Once she begins traveling with the Doctor, she is “in awe” of the regenerated Time Lord.

Cole joked that, much like acting on Doctor Who, Ryan “goes with the flow” once he meets the Doctor.


5. The Doctor Has a New Sonic Screwdriver

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who season 11 poster (BBC America)
(Photo by BBC America)

Click image to view larger

With a new Doctor, new producers, and new friends, it is only fitting that the Doctor get a new screwdriver.

“There’s a very specific way the Doctor comes by this sonic screwdriver,” Chibnall said. “It’s made from some interesting components.”

During the panel, Whittaker revealed the screwdriver for the first time. Designed by Arwel Wyn Jones, the new sonic is organic, ergonomic, and after thousands of years, it finally has the red settings.

“It’s a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic Sonic Screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences,” said Jones. “I can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it.”


6. There Will Be a Christmas Special — Apparently

When asked whether or not the new season will lead into the traditional Doctor Who Christmas special, Chibnall said, “Well, we are making 11 episodes … and yet it’s a 10-episode series.”

The episode order is a big change for the series, which started as a 13-episode order (plus the Christmas Special) when it returned in 2004. In the last few years, the order reduced to 12 (plus the special) with season 11 clocking in at a seemingly brief 10. But Chibnall’s allusion to 11 episodes stands as solid confirmation that the Doctor will be home for Christmas.

Doctor Who will air on BBC America in the U.S. this fall.


Want to let people know what you thought of the new Doctor? Want to see what others thought? Be sure to check out Rotten Tomatoes’ own live event during Comic-Con, Your Opinion Sucks. It’s the ultimate fans vs. critics face off – they’ll take sides on new trailers, as well as movies and TV we love, and love to hate – and you can watch it live in San Diego or on video at Rotten Tomatoes.


Tag Cloud

The Arrangement composers Action TCM Toys USA Network social media discovery MTV series period drama cults TV Christmas travel Marvel Women's History Month ABC IFC Chernobyl animated Heroines adaptation Video Games singing competition Nominations Thanksgiving Emmys historical drama vampires spanish language GoT 2019 American Society of Cinematographers Spike Box Office science fiction NBC Best and Worst CNN FOX DirecTV Mary Poppins Returns sports anime Disney politics Classic Film hispanic 2017 revenge Crackle DGA spy thriller Adult Swim Rom-Com Rock green book Bravo serial killer cancelled TV shows Superheroe Shudder supernatural Walt Disney Pictures crime thriller Brie Larson Ellie Kemper sequel YA Sundance Now First Reviews cancelled television Shondaland Nat Geo cinemax Music Captain marvel Winners Mudbound diversity Warner Bros. anthology 2016 Awards Comedy Central Universal Election south america PaleyFest children's TV Character Guide USA Paramount See It Skip It Western casting robots TruTV facebook true crime Fox News Amazon Prime Video award winner Binge Guide Tumblr History Sony Pictures what to watch blaxploitation halloween Country APB RT History zero dark thirty cars Stephen King latino cancelled TV series TNT Acorn TV aliens CMT CBS Spectrum Originals harry potter festivals New York Comic Con batman Esquire renewed TV shows Apple TV+ ghosts nature Year in Review Mary Tyler Moore Trailer TV Land MCU war Martial Arts theme song Set visit miniseries stand-up comedy canceled TV shows Disney Channel Winter TV Spring TV adventure technology Freeform television LGBTQ DC Universe Mary poppins Black Mirror Disney streaming service crime FX 21st Century Fox The Purge President Chilling Adventures of Sabrina slashers Horror Kids & Family SXSW Sneak Peek Calendar Opinion Film BBC canceled cancelled Red Carpet Television Academy Writers Guild of America FXX MSNBC Reality Competition Emmy Nominations Turner Classic Movies 24 frames movies Musical doctor who comiccon Sci-Fi romance cops Super Bowl Food Network Watching Series video finale X-Men Comedy Cannes talk show WarnerMedia Lifetime E! justice league disaster Infographic ABC Family foreign Elton John quibi Animation zombie sitcom Crunchyroll Trophy Talk cats El Rey book YouTube Red Ghostbusters Awards Tour Star Trek GIFs mockumentary boxoffice medical drama space dceu streaming Teen Mindy Kaling Comics on TV YouTube zombies E3 Epix Summer Ovation spider-man Musicals spinoff National Geographic Anna Paquin ITV Pet Sematary docudrama Rocky Biopics ESPN TCA 2018 TV renewals Cosplay police drama crime drama dragons VICE richard e. Grant Lionsgate The Witch tv talk Star Wars Pixar Peacock HBO Syfy game show RT21 Columbia Pictures free movies Drama Grammys Paramount Network Logo BET TIFF YouTube Premium LGBT CW Seed GLAAD witnail The Walking Dead game of thrones Reality Disney Plus Schedule Podcast Creative Arts Emmys teaser psychological thriller Masterpiece Turner Hulu Marathons DC Comics Amazon Certified Fresh natural history jamie lee curtis based on movie golden globes Fantasy spain comic Mystery Photos Pirates CBS All Access Polls and Games Superheroes 45 cooking WGN Fall TV Comic Book strong female leads The CW binge Arrowverse San Diego Comic-Con mutant 007 20th Century Fox AMC Pop romantic comedy PBS TCA 2017 joker Song of Ice and Fire Film Festival Countdown Apple BBC America DC streaming service Extras biography HBO Max Interview Pride Month IFC Films psycho thriller Trivia Starz Tarantino political drama First Look Family 71st Emmy Awards Netflix Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Quiz unscripted toy story Rocketman SundanceTV dc TBS Sundance Premiere Dates VH1 Vudu Cartoon Network transformers Amazon Prime A&E hist Britbox Valentine's Day Lucasfilm Oscars ratings kids breaking bad Dark Horse Comics Showtime SDCC OWN crossover NYCC Nickelodeon dramedy Holidays 2015 Tomatazos elevated horror TLC