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What's the deal with sexy, scary, bloody 'Doctor Who' spin-off 'Class'?

Ellie Walker-Arnott

'Doctor Who' has shifted off its teatime Saturday slot and grown-up, with a new scarier, sexier spin-off. There are still aliens, sci-fi tech and plenty of illogical plot developments, but you can forget the far reaches of the universe. 'Class' is set in (a rather fancy incarnation of) Coal Hill Academy in London, the school that's featured in 'Doctor Who' since the very first episode. 

What's the premise? 

All that timey-wimey nonsense has taken its toll on Coal Hill. The universe has worn thin and there's been a tear (rip, bunghole – call it whatever you want). It's now a kind of beacon across space and time attracting all sorts of intergalactic mischief. The result is the regular appearance of your classic 'Doctor Who' monster, but with bloodier, gorier consequences. Without the Doctor to save the day in his neat PG kinda way, the body count gets pretty damn high. 

So the Doctor isn't in it?

Well, he does make an appearance in the first episode. Peter Capaldi turns up in the Tardis to sort of pass the baton on, because he can't be everywhere at once, can he? 


Who is in charge then? 

Saving humanity is no longer down to just the Doctor. It's also the responsibility of a gang of sixth-formers, from popular sports fanatic Ram to Tanya, a super-smart kid who's been put forward two years, who seem to use telly like 'Vampire Diaries' as their point of reference for the strange sci-fi world they've found themselves in. They learn how to fight the monsters who come through Coal Hill's tear in space, but they've, you know, got their own teenage shiz to deal with too, like sex, grades and prom dates. 

'Class' boasts an impressively diverse cast. One character comes from a strict Nigerian family, another is dealing with what it's like to be gay when you have deeply religious parents. There's bereavement and disability, as well as alien invasions.

'Class' also stars Katherine Kelly as their cold, shouty teacher (who, as Capaldi's own cameo demonstrates, has quite the task of filling his charismatic shoes).


So is it any good? 

'Class' is a surreal mix of hefty themes, humour and goofy CGI. It's not as dark as fellow spin-off 'Torchwood' but it's not suitable for younger Whovians either. And 'Doctor Who' fans are at risk of watching and just being reminded of how much they miss the real thing. 

Episode one takes on some big, dark plot twists, but lacks depth. It does get better, though. It's a confident spin-off, the young cast are engaging and by episode three it feels like it's into its stride. 'Class' is no 'Stranger Things', but it has potential.

'Class' is available to stream on BBC3 from October 21. 


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