Doctor Who, the world’s longest-running sci-fi television series, is turning 60 next year. The series’ 60th anniversary and the upcoming season have been the talk of the media for the past few months for some pretty exciting reasons.
From the upcoming special and Season 14 to casting the new Doctor and the alleged return of David Tennant, here’s everything we know and speculate about the New Doctor Who Season.
Everything We Know So Far about the New Doctor Who Series
The Flux (Season 13) has ended, and Thirteenth Doctor actress Jodie Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall are both leaving the show, leaving their respective roles open for others to fill in.
Who Is the 14th Doctor?
Following the announcement of Jodie Whittaker’s departure from the series, and the return of Russell T Davies as the series’ showrunner, several gambling websites started running bets on who the next Doctor might be?
Well, all bets were called off on May 8, when the BBC officially revealed that Ncuti Gatwa would assume the mantle of the Time Lord as the Fourteenth Doctor, taking over the role from Jodie Whittaker. Interestingly enough, the Sex Education star wasn’t even listed among potential candidates for the role on betting sites, so the announcement took everyone by surprise.
It’s also worth noting that Ncuti Gatwa is the second Black actor to take on the Doctor’s role, following Jo Martin’s portrayal of the Fugitive Doctor. However, he’s the first Black actor to assume the role in the ongoing continuity of the Doctor Who series.
The Rwandan-Scottish actor won the Best Actor Award at the Scottish Baftas in 2020 and Best Male Performance in the comedy program at this year’s awards. His first episode as the Doctor is scheduled to air in 2023 when the show celebrates its 60th anniversary.
When Will the 14th Doctor First Appear?
Though the official reports state that Ncuti Gatwa is to make his debut as the Fourteenth Doctor in 2023, there’s sound reason to believe that he might appear in the upcoming special. As per the series’ tradition, the new Doctor usually appears in the final special episode.
These episodes usually contain a regeneration scene, in which the current Doctor regenerates into his next incarnation. Considering that the upcoming special, scheduled for Fall 2022, is Jodie Whittaker’s final appearance as the Thirteenth Doctor, it’s safe to assume that we’ll at least see glimpses of Ncuti Gatwa’s 14th Doctor.
Let’s remember that Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor made two cameo appearances before taking over the role from Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in 2014.
David Tennant and Catherine Tate Return to the New Doctor Who Series
Following the news of showrunner Russell T Davies’ return to the series, and Steven Moffat’s refusal to do so, rumors started spreading that the former might be uniting with David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor for the new season of the series.
Of course, the speculation fueled a rumor mill about David Tennant’s possible return, and the BBC finally revealed that both Tennant and Catherine Tate would return to the series as the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, respectively. The news came a week later after the UK’s national broadcaster revealed Ncuti Gatwa as the 14th Doctor.
When Will the 60th Anniversary Episodes Be Released?
Unfortunately, the exact release date of the new season wasn’t officially revealed by the broadcaster or any of the cast and crew working on the show.
The series doesn’t have a precisely established release pattern, which would help us at least pinpoint the release window. For example, season 13 first aired on October 31, 2021, Season 12 aired on January 1, 2020, and the one before that aired on October 7, 2018.
However, according to some sources, Russell T Davies stated that the Season 14 premiere will honor the 60th anniversary of the series — on November 23, 2023 —a Thursday. So, while the aforementioned date still remains viable, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if BBC decides to premiere the season one weekend before the date or the one following it.
The idea of a two-part story isn’t out of the realm of possibilities, and the debut may take the form of a doubleheader released on successive weekends surrounding the 60th-anniversary date.
What Can We Speculate about the New Doctor Who?
As previously stated, the specific and concrete details about the upcoming season remain scarce. But that should prevent us from trying to guess a few things.
What’s in Store for the Upcoming New Doctor Who Special?
BBC keeps the specific plot details under tight wraps until the release date, so nothing much is known about the upcoming Centenary Special (we’re referring to BBC’s Centenary Anniversary.
We know so far that the upcoming special is likely to contain a regeneration scene in which Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerates into Ncuti Gatwa’s Fourteenth Doctor. Gatwa’s appearance at the end of the upcoming special is expected, but several fan speculations suggest that the BBC has something else in mind.
What’s David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s Role in the Upcoming Season of Doctor Who?
One of the main theories among the fandom is that the Thirteenth Doctor’s regeneration goes wrong. The cause of this isn’t precisely speculated, but it’s entirely possible that some lingering emotions towards Mandip Gill’s Yaz may play a role.
This could result in Thirteenth regenerating into an old body, the one she’s familiar with, rather than the new one. So, under the assumption that this theory holds water, the Thirteenth initially transforms into David Tennant’s 10th Doctor rather than Ncuti Gatwa’s Fourteenth Doctor.
Following the special, Season 14 premiere could see the 10th Doctor seeking Donna Noble, who doesn’t remember him, before his “proper” regeneration into Gatwa’s Doctor.
Did Somebody Mention Rose?
Rose Tyler is probably one of the best-known companions of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth and David Tennant’s 10th Doctor. However, she’s also trapped in the parallel universe in-canon, so it’s not likely that we’ll see her return for this season.
Instead, these speculations are mostly associated with a recently cast Yasmin Finney, set to portray a character named Rose — speculated to be Donna’s daughter.
Who Will Be the Next Doctor’s Companions in the Upcoming Adventures?
Apparently, BBC is offering Davies an entirely clean board, which means that both Mandip Gill’s Yaz and John Bishop’s Dan are departing the show with Jodie Whittaker. The company didn’t officially confirm this, but both actors have confirmed their departure on separate occasions.
With detail about the upcoming season tightly under wraps, we can’t say who the next companions will be. Donna seems like a likely choice, even for a story or two. The addition of a character named Rose, speculated to be Donna’s daughter, could be a throwback to Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper’s run, so Yasmin Finney can accompany Ncuti Gatwa into new adventures.
What’s the Center Plot of the Upcoming New Doctor Who Season?
Just like everything else, the center plot of the upcoming season is also a mystery, at least from now. But the last season raised some questions that might suggest certain plot elements.
For example, we found out that the Doctor was an agent of the Division, alongside some of the show’s scariest monsters — the Weeping Angels. Tecteun also made an appearance and spoke of the timeless children, while Time spoke of the Master, suggesting that we might see him in the upcoming season.
One of the best cliffhangers of the past season was that the Doctor has recovered a fob watch with his/her lost memories but chose to keep the watch closed and hidden inside the TARDIS. However, Chekhov’s gun principle dictates that if the storytellers hang a gun on the wall in Act I, then the gun should be fired in Act II. So, we might see that watch opened, after all.
From what we know so far, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop, and showrunner Chris Chibnall are all leaving the Doctor Who series, offering Russell T Davies a clean board upon which to develop new adventures for Ncuti Gatwa’s Fourteenth Doctor.
Unfortunately, we can’t offer any concrete details about what those adventures might entail, but we’ll keep an eye and an ear out for any further details regarding the upcoming Season 14 of the Doctor Who series.