Lies, Rumor and Innuendo: The State of Doctor Who in 2019
By: Rob Hull, Content Editor
EDITORS NOTE: The opinions below are my own and do not reflect the opinion of any of the other staff or ownership of this site, nor are they sponsored, approved or endorsed by the BBC, BBC America or any of the other entities involved in the production of Doctor Who – Rob
I have done by best to stand back and watch the drama from the outside without wading into it. but I have felt compelled to at least put my thoughts down in print, if for no other reason than to get them out of my head. So, I am pulling out my ” virtual soapbox” and stepping on top of it in the hopes that someone will read this and it will give them something to think about.
By now, everyone that cares knows that Doctor Who, after having a shortened series of 10 episodes and a New Year’s Special, has taken a “gap year” to produce the next series for broadcast in “early 2020.” The last series, the 11th since the series returned in 2005, was the groundbreaking first series for the first ever female Doctor, the 13th Doctor, played by the fabulous Jodie Whittaker. It was also the first series for new showrunner Chris Chibnall, who took over from Steven Moffat.
There were other changes as well, for the first time in along time, there were, and, still are 3 companions traveling with this Doctor: Yasmin Khan, Ryan Sinclair and Graham O’Brian. The TARDIS had also undergone a makeover, becoming a darker shade of blue on the outside. The biggest change to the TARDIS however, is the interior. The console room has become more organic with a giant crystal replacing hte familiar time rotor, and the whole room lit in an orange glow.
Now, change is hard, and rather than the incremental change we are used to, this was a much more extensive overhaul. And, the new showrunner and writers felt , given the rising radical ideals in the political world, that they needed to speak out against the social injustices that they perceived were becoming the “norm.” It didn’t always work, but I admire them for sticking to their convictions. I think one of the biggest decisions that may have worked against the new team behind the show is the decision not to use any of the classic monsters during the series. The show felt unfamiliar to some longtime viewers who were looking for anything familiar amongst all the “new” to confirm to them that was still the Doctor Who they remembered. For many of them, it did not come until the New Year’s Special, when this Doctor finally met a Dalek for the first time. Keeping Nicholas Briggs, the longtime voice of the Daleks, certainly went a long way towards establishing that familiarity.
However, with the Special in the rearview mirror, attention now turns to Series 12, which, at this point, we still know precious little about. We know it is filming, we know that there have been location shoots and we know it should be airing in “early 2020.” In terms of plots, we have been told only that the “ban” on classic monsters in apparently over, as they have confirmed the return of the Judoon, ever going so far as to show us a picture of the Doctor and the Judoon facing off.
Since then, however, it has been radio silence. No further plot details or descriptions have come out. Normally, we would have gotten some kind of update at San Diego Comic Con, but they were, and still are, filming the last episodes of this series, so the cast and crew were unable to make it SDCC.
The unfortunate side effect of the lack of official updates or news about the new series is that people have decided to make some up. Recently, a massive rumor mill has arisen, churning out rumors of all shapes and sizes. The most notable thread from these rumors states that Chris Chibnall has either left or been fired before production is complete. In most variations of this rumor, Jodie has decided to walk as well, but has been convinced to film a regeneration scene, overseen by a new acting showrunner. As the rumor goes, the BBC has decided to return to a male Doctor, in an effort to raise interest in the show and merchandise sales.
Of course, all of these reports are attributed to “trusted sources” who “have a habit of being right about these sort of things.” It should be noted that the only consideration the BBC has given these rumors is a very curt denial statement issued to Radio Times magazine, but not attributed to any particular person or office. I believe this is a mistake by the BBC. I understand the desire to protect as much of the secrecy of the show and the plotline as possible, but if the BBC wanted to shut all of the rumormongers up once and for all, all it would have to do is play just a little bit of “show-and-tell.” Nothing major, mind you, just some set photos, maybe a short video between takes. Words alone will not pacify this lot. They need, as Sherlock Holmes once said, the “ocular proof.” I hope the BBC takes some steps to plainly and completely address this situation, so I can get back to excitedly waiting for the new series without having to read anymore articles about what “trusted sources” say about the “turmoil” on the set and the filming is in “chaos.”
So, why do these people decide to start these rumors? Boredom, usually. These people all know that, despite what they would have you believe about the reception of Jodie and the last series. the show still has a large and rabid fanbase. And, they also know that this rabid fanbase searches frantically for every scrap of news about the filming of a new series. They also, unfortunately, know that some members of the fanbase are so desperate for every scrap of news that they don’t often stop to look at the veracity of said news, taking every bit of info as gospel truth. Of course, in this age of information, I don’t have to tell you how easy it is to spread a rumor worldwide. And, everyone who spreads rumors like this knows exactly how to word their posts for maximum effect.
Now, if it were just people who were bored doing this, it would be reasonably harmless. Unfortunately, there is a second group of people responsible who are much more dangerous. These people are the ones who cannot accept the changes made to “their” show. These fanatics have decided that they will do everything in their power to damage the show’s reputation and public image in a bid to make the BBC change the show back to what they believe it “should” be. The want the Doctor to be male again, and the companion to be female. They want no social commentary and more classic monsters.
This group doesn’t understand that change and evolution is the very heart of the show. And, this wouldn’t be a problem normally. But, this group is dangerous due to their reach and conviction. They always claim to get their info from “trusted high level BBC sources”, often referencing previous “surprise revelations” and attributing them to the same source, thus establishing “credibility.” This makes it more difficult for normal fans to separate fact from fiction, and that is damaging to everyone.
As I said before, I truly believe the only way to shut these people up is for the BBC to come out and tell us, in an official statement, attributed to a particular individual or office, exactly what is what. Until such a statement is made, I fear the rumors will just continue to spring up and the longer the info drought, the more the rumor mill will churn. Personally, I am sick of reading articles with statements attributed to “trusted sources.” As far as I am concerned, all of these rumormongers and their “high level trusted sources” can get in their “TARDIS of lies” and, in the words of Clara Oswald ” You go away! And you don’t come back. OK? You go a long way away!” That way the rest of us can go back to wondering where the Doctor will take us next.