With a Christmas Special “The Return of Dr. Mysterio” almost upon us and a new season looming, the rumors are coming in regarding what fans can expect next for Doctor Who.
One popular rumor is that Chris Chibnall will be changing the creative process and using a team of writers to construct the season rather than individual scripts. The rumor goes on to state that in the 11th series after Moffat’s departure, Chris Chibnall will be getting a ‘clean slate,’ meaning a different direction, a new face for The Doctor and a new companion along with a new but familiar tone hearkening back to the the Tennant era.
Insiders say the Broadchurch writer will have a “clean slate” to start afresh for his first series – rather bad news for actress Pearl Mackie, who plays new assistant Bill in Steven Moffat’s last run, currently filming for next year.
Pearl, 29, yet to be seen by viewers, is said to have been signed on a one-year contract and is expected to depart with Peter Capaldi , 58, and Moffat after 2017’s Christmas special.
The replacement Time Lord is likely to be played by a younger actor in a bid to help boost the flagging sales of dolls, books, DVDs and toys.
Our source says: “BBC management wants a return to the format from the David Tennant era, when you had a dashing male lead and young female companion.
“Merchandising has dropped off sharply in recent years and there is a strong desire to boost the show’s popularity among kids.”
One way to do that, of course, is by returning to its traditional tea-time slot, rather than the post-Strictly position it languished in last year.
Next year’s show is expected to air in spring rather than autumn, to avoid the Saturday clash with Strictly.
Chibnall, putting the finishes to the third and final series of ITV’s Broadchurch, will very soon put together his own team of writers and producers for Doctor Who. They are expected to work in parallel with Moffat’s unit, who finish up in the late spring of next year.
BBC chiefs have also stressed that they want a full series every year (there hasn’t been one at all in 2016) and more accessible story arcs than those seen in recent times.
Each time the classic series underwent a change that involved a new producer, there were more often than not massive changes. The problem in predicting the course of modern Doctor Who is that the pop culture landscape has changed so drastically. Whereas the constant change was once a strength of Doctor Who’s appeal it is now something of a detriment.
Each time the modern Doctor regenerates, the internet weeps with agony as viewers swear they will never watch now that ‘their Doctor’ is gone. This was especially true during the transition from Tennant to Smith but soon the viewers came back or were replaced with an even larger group of fans.
During the Matt Smith era, Doctor Who became a true international phenomena and (I wager to say) garnered more attention than the series had ever seen before. Video games, home video releases and streaming media along with special showings and 3D trailers in cinemas made Doctor Who a mega blockbuster. The 50th anniversary special was the pinnacle of this popularity. Anyone unfamiliar with Doctor Who before 2013 found that it had become inescapable (for good or ill).
Then showrunner Steven Moffat made a bold choice following this period by changing the character, who had been a mad adventurer and heart-throb into a cranky and moody alien who worked within his own morality. This softened some then took a massive twist in the ninth season when the previously pensive and streamlined ‘thin white duke’ no nonsense Time Lord entered playing electric guitar atop a tank dressed in baggy trousers, a hoodie and Raybans in place of his signature sonic screwdriver.
This was a sign of a troubled series.
Now I am a fan of the previous season and think that without the usual gimmicks and events, Moffat rose to the occasion and crafted a (more or less) stronger season. The writing was sharper, the aliens more interesting and the flow of the season more unpredictable. However, the Doctor had become whimsical and catered to a younger audience in a rather embarrassing way. The program gambled on change and got nervous when rating slipped. That may be the case again as Moffat, whom the BBC may view as having a golden touch, leaves.
But to imitate the Tennant era will not fool anyone, even the fans of that period. I have every hope that Doctor Who will continue to evolve and change (even when I don’t like the changes) as it moves forward. Further, I hope it takes greater risks and embraces more unusual storytelling techniques rather than the standard ‘Bill and Ted’ time travel formula that it has enjoyed for the past five years.