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

zero dark thirty Comic Book Pacific Islander Set visit scorecard slasher Paramount Network mockumentary jurassic park Summer CNN YouTube Premium children's TV YouTube jamie lee curtis El Rey The Arrangement teaser Broadway New York Comic Con cooking serial killer miniseries Calendar Emmy Nominations Bravo black Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reboot debate Pop TV First Reviews hist marvel cinematic universe movie chucky ratings natural history Warner Bros. christmas movies Winners Travel Channel Rock History Tomatazos based on movie Fox Searchlight Tokyo Olympics true crime sequel Rocky Disney Channel olympics Funimation rt labs critics edition Nat Geo CBS All Access Marvel Legendary action-comedy Hallmark aapi Drama saw The Witch Marvel Studios australia trailers justice league comiccon YouTube Red Tubi international 93rd Oscars Masterpiece venice sequels dc Apple TV Plus The Walking Dead Disney+ Disney Plus kong comic streaming BET Awards ghosts Fox News films royal family 2020 2019 dceu Infographic directors Captain marvel new york green book foreign IFC Election DC streaming service spinoff renewed TV shows VICE GIFs TruTV docuseries theme song adventure king kong vs. popular mob black comedy Spring TV Walt Disney Pictures Mindy Kaling Amazon Studios Peacock canceled TV shows Mary Tyler Moore halloween Pirates VH1 Oscars all-time new star wars movies anime documentary Awards BAFTA Hallmark Christmas movies Pet Sematary free movies 007 FXX supernatural adaptation Film Pop casting Alien toy story Pixar ABC CW Seed IFC Films Hulu tv talk pirates of the caribbean hidden camera Netflix Sony Pictures Musicals concert Lucasfilm Nominations blockbusters Comedy 24 frames Dark Horse Comics boxing OWN obituary Trivia reviews TCM Black Mirror nature Certified Fresh target emmy awards Grammys 4/20 PlayStation Teen YA Trophy Talk laika superman canceled discovery Comic-Con@Home 2021 game of thrones Apple TV+ cancelled television LGBTQ TLC Television Critics Association San Diego Comic-Con CMT Apple Columbia Pictures National Geographic Avengers fast and furious lord of the rings TCA franchise rt labs french TV One marvel comics LGBT spain Discovery Channel Showtime heist movie comic books screenings razzies TBS 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards wonder woman Cannes 2021 screen actors guild rotten robots Universal Pictures NBC crossover Star Wars Elton John binge Stephen King cancelled TV series TV movies game show superhero art house Sneak Peek revenge President japanese travel cancelled TV shows PBS deadpool hispanic heritage month king arthur AMC Plus FX 72 Emmy Awards social media italian SundanceTV Crackle Neflix The Walt Disney Company historical drama E3 GLAAD satire Starz 71st Emmy Awards independent Endgame series DGA blaxploitation TCA 2017 versus Anna Paquin crime drama Mudbound Paramount Plus golden globes Biopics Kids & Family diversity SXSW Black History Month Star Trek comic book movies indiana jones comic book movie werewolf dreamworks disaster stop motion Ellie Kemper police drama Countdown PaleyFest 73rd Emmy Awards Shondaland IMDb TV Disney Plus Spike Action war Brie Larson Crunchyroll MTV Arrowverse Universal Creative Arts Emmys facebook Music know your critic ITV cats halloween tv BET Rocketman critics Reality Competition batman The Academy golden globe awards posters Adult Swim Family Fantasy Mary Poppins Returns cartoon ViacomCBS VOD WGN Holiday 21st Century Fox zombies SDCC 90s worst movies political drama Sundance AMC aliens Podcast Lionsgate scary movies Photos sitcom Musical Fall TV Song of Ice and Fire richard e. Grant politics prank TIFF Opinion FX on Hulu dark Toys Freeform Nickelodeon Emmys ABC Family cops First Look Binge Guide TV renewals Interview BBC One kaiju ABC Signature Trailer Wes Anderson japan mcc period drama Writers Guild of America blockbuster Sundance Now child's play GoT Turner Classic Movies south america name the review Epix anthology Ovation Red Carpet Sundance TV romantic comedy E! crime women spider-man American Society of Cinematographers Extras Holidays asian-american nfl Disney Horror BBC America elevated horror high school DC Comics Christmas award winner HBO Go Tarantino critic resources Television Academy Women's History Month die hard new zealand Britbox FOX cancelled Netflix Christmas movies Food Network technology Quiz dragons finale 99% Winter TV romance sopranos Lifetime joker singing competition A24 Box Office Syfy science fiction sports suspense crime thriller MCU The CW psycho Country Chilling Adventures of Sabrina biography Mary poppins cinemax news Cartoon Network BBC spanish Ghostbusters Image Comics doctor who Thanksgiving Comics on TV Video Games television spanish language Polls and Games witnail live action DirecTV Cosplay APB 20th Century Fox RT History Schedule remakes fresh cars legend Vudu Turner Watching Series comedies talk show stoner spy thriller strong female leads vampires Superheroe Heroines telelvision MSNBC ESPN classics composers Marvel Television Instagram Live basketball HBO feel good The Purge book best mutant NBA genre video on demand Best and Worst Animation adenture TCA Winter 2020 scary scene in color thriller kids cults rt archives HBO Max godzilla 2016 psychological thriller Premiere Dates Western USA Network NYCC TNT 2015 movies Sci-Fi zombie hispanic Paramount DC Universe live event archives unscripted festival Valentine's Day twilight festivals TV young adult video Amazon Prime dexter indie Hear Us Out Tumblr criterion Comedy Central harry potter what to watch space spider-verse book adaptation streaming movies Awards Tour Martial Arts Super Bowl dogs CBS WarnerMedia a nightmare on elm street sag awards slashers football Exclusive Video hollywood Classic Film documentaries stand-up comedy Chernobyl Marathons parents Film Festival Rom-Com rotten movies we love toronto ID X-Men gangster latino worst Amazon boxoffice dramedy USA nbcuniversal Disney streaming service Spectrum Originals Acorn TV breaking bad Reality RT21 transformers Amazon Prime Video rom-coms TV Land medical drama monster movies 45 2018 Pride Month quibi Character Guide 1990s Mystery universal monsters animated A&E Logo Shudder OneApp mission: impossible Baby Yoda Superheroes james bond 2017 biopic Lifetime Christmas movies TCA Awards docudrama comics Academy Awards Esquire Year in Review See It Skip It