Doctor Who Series 13 might not have been filmed yet, but as we all know – time and tide melts the snowman. In recent days, much has been reported about the future of Who, and now seems like a good time to fire up the Time-Space Visualiser and peek into a post-COVID reality. Watch out for that helmic regulator…
Now, the first question on everybody’s lips regards the incumbent Time Lord. Will the Thirteenth Doctor survive beyond the Doctor Who Series 13 finale, or will an epicly-scripted Androzani sequel see her regenerate after a battle with raw spectrox? And will it feel different this time…?
The problem for Jodie Whittaker – and indeed for any Doctor heading into their third season – is that people always start whispering about a possible regeneration. William Hartnell did a three year innings. As did Patrick Troughton. As did Peter Davison. As did Colin Baker (technically.) Indeed, in the 1980s one BBC high-up suggested that three years was “the optimum time” for any actor to be at the controls of the TARDIS.
So Jodie Whittaker could swear under oath that she’ll remain with the show until the Dalek invasion of 2164, but it wouldn’t stop the speculation in its tracks. I guess all of us like to play that game in our heads about who we’d like to see in the iconic scarf (and personally I’m still holding out for Paterson Joseph.) But if I were a betting man, my money would be on a regeneration for Jodie Whittaker at the end of Doctor Who Series 13 – either in the final episode, or perhaps in the closing moments of a festive special.
But what about the rest of the cast? It’s already been widely reported (if not officially confirmed) that Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole will bow out after the upcoming Revolution of the Daleks special, and if Mandip Gill remains with the show until Series 14, she’ll have out-stayed all of her predecessors and a good handful of the Doctors. Which would be impressive! Not impossible, but I’d be very surprised if it happened…
And then there’s the current showrunner Chris Chibnall. Will he retain his place at the writing desk in a post-Doctor Who Series 13 universe? It’s certainly possible; Steven Moffat clung on for nearly nine years (if I’ve done the math right.) But he’d need to have nerves of steel.
I say that without any knowledge of Chris Chibnall as a person. It just strikes me that being the showrunner of Doctor Who is perhaps one of the most terrifying jobs a person can undertake. I think any creative decision has the potential to divide the internet, and I’m not sure I’d be able to change the tint of the TARDIS’ paint without the palpable fear of becoming a Twitter hashtag. And I say that as a Doctor Who fan myself, who still thinks the 2005 TARDIS was too chunky, and cannot abide the lightning-in-the-time-vortex title sequence.
So if Chris Chibnall stayed, I think he’d be making a very bold and brave decision. But he’s made these before. He cast the first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. He moved Doctor Who to Sundays. He wrote The Timeless Children. He may be able to filter out the criticism of the Whosphere and plough on regardless. Of course, if it were me I’d probably resign and move to a house boat and subsist purely on chamomile tea, but I’m a bit of a coward. (I’m probably half Tivolian…)
That said, my money would be on a clean slate after Doctor Who Series 13. I think a new person will take up the showrunner mantle.
Of course, I say all of this without taking the consequences of COVID-19 into consideration. It’s already been reported that Doctor Who Series 13 filming will probably be delayed by the coronavirus, with one BBC source saying that it’s too complex a programme to make under the current social distancing measures. So the timescales involved could force the hand of the creative team. If the production rattles on into 2021 – or heck, even 2022 – Whittaker could find herself hurtling towards Tom Baker levels of staying-power. And she might not want to.
But unless a crack appears in my bedroom wall – or I’m visited by a crowd of Pompeii soothsayers – I can only speculate as to what could happen after Doctor Who Series 13. But tell me your thoughts. Do you think Jodie Whittaker will return for a fourth season in the role? Who is your dream Fourteenth Doctor? And are you be brave enough to be the Doctor Who showrunner?! Let me know in the comments below!
Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) scarf – order now from the Lovarzi shop!
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