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‘Doctor Who’: 5 reasons why the next year will be the biggest in the show’s history

Pack your sonic screwdriver, it’s going to be a hell of a ride

Jon Hornbuckle
Written by
Jon Hornbuckle

Doctor Who turns sixty in 2023 but the iconic BBC sci-fi series is showing no signs of ageing. In fact, the next 12 months promise to be the biggest and most explosive in the show’s gilded history.

On the slate are emotional departures, exciting new arrivals and the return of familiar faces which will keep Doctor Who fans glued to their screens. There’s even an exhibition to grant Whovians access to the secrets and science behind the hit show.

Here’s five reasons why it’s an awesome time to be a Doctor Who fan.

1. There’s an emotional goodbye to Jodie Whittaker

The first woman to play the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker’s four-year stint will come to an end in October with a special episode that’s airing as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

Plot points are being kept secret, but it has been confirmed that Sacha Dhawan will reprise his role as The Master, with Daleks and Cybermen also set to appear. 

Chris Chibnall is bowing out as showrunner with the special and his successor Russel T Davies has promised it’s going to be a crowdpleaser: ‘I just saw the finished version of that,’ he told BBC’s The One Show, promising ‘lots of surprises’. 

2. Ncuti Gatwa is making his debut as the Fourteenth Doctor 

Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will take over the keys to the Tardis following Jodie Whittaker’s departure from Doctor Who.

Gatwa’s casting was announced earlier this year, alongside the return of showrunner Russell T Davies.

‘There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling,’ Gatwa said at the time. ‘A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course, a little bit scared.’

Filming is set to begin on the fourteenth series in November, with The Hollywood Reporter pointed to a 2024 air date.

3. There’s a new Doctor Who documentary in cinemas

Before Doctor Who made a triumphant return to the small screen in 2005 after a 15-year absence, there was an infamous TV movie reboot that starred Paul McGann as the Time Lord.

A sort of backdoor attempt at a fully-fledged reboot, the movie was never followed-up, although McGann’s Doctor was brought back to the spotlight in a later special episode in 2013 as part of the show’s 50th anniversary celebrations. 

Doctor Who Am I is out in cinemas in October, after premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The feature-length documentary will explore the making of the special and why it sparked such a divisive reaction from Doctor Who’s loyal fans due to changes in the sci-fi lore and the introduction of a romantic relationship between the Doctor and his companion.

It will include appearances from cast members Paul McGann, Eric Roberts and Daphne Ashbrook. Matthew Jacobs, who wrote the standalone Doctor Who film, will also appear and is co-directing the documentary.

‘In exploring this pivotal moment in the franchise’s history, Matthew unexpectedly finds himself a kindred part of this close-knit, yet vast, family of fans,’ runs the official synopsis. ‘This is a funny and emotionally perilous documentary, packed full of Doctor Who whimsy and celebrating a passionate, united fanbase.’

Paul McGann in Doctor Who (1996)
BBC / Doctor WhoPaul McGann in Doctor Who (1996)

4. David Tennant and Catherine Tate are coming back

Yes, ten years after he last twiddled a sonic screwdriver, David Tennant is back to play the Tenth Doctor again. He’ll be appearing in a special Doctor Who episode set to air in 2023 as part of the show’s 60th anniversary.

Tennant will be joined by Catherine Tate, returning once more as companion Donna Noble, despite the character’s memory being erased at the end of the series four in 2008.

So how the heck will this all work? Well, Davies has teased ways the returning characters could fit in with Ncuti Gatwa’s new Doctor. ‘Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback,’ Davies said. ‘The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.’

The special will feature Gone Girl’s Neil Patrick Harris, with speculation that Ncuti Gatwa could make his first appearance as the Fourteenth Doctor in the episode, before his full series debuts in 2024.

5. And there’s a Doctor Who exhibition touring the UK

Ever wondered how realistic your favourite Doctor Who episode is? Well wonder no more, thanks to a new touring exhibition that blends science with fiction and goes behind the scenes on some of the Doctor’s most mind-boggling mishaps.

Doctor Who Worlds of Wonder: Where Science Meets Fiction lets Whovians confront fearsome foes in the Monster Vault, home to terrifying alien adversaries. There, you can learn what connects the nightmare-inducing monsters with real science.

A Dalek is put on display for the Doctor Who exhibition
Duncan McGlynnA Dalek is put on display for the Doctor Who exhibition

As well as costumes and props from the longest-running sci-fi TV show, the exhibition will explore the possibility of time travel and the likelihood of alien life on other planets - just hopefully no Daleks or Cybermen, thanks.

Keeping things grounded on our own planet, the exhibition will explain how life on Earth and the weird and wonderful parts of nature have influenced the stories of Doctor Who.

The exhibition is currently at the World Museum Liverpool until the end of October, before it sets off on tour with further locations yet to be announced.

Doctor Who’s Tardis is getting a makeover for the new series.

Who is Ncuti Gatwa: Seven things you should know about the new Doctor Who.

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