So here’s something I’ve unfortunately not been able to say in a while: Doctor Who is so good right now! It’s no secret that 2018’s season 11 of the long-running BBC sci-fi show was just not great. A new era for Who, the season saw longtime showrunner Steven Moffat handing over the reins to Chris Chibnall, who then also cast his Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker in the no-pressure role of being the very first female Doctor in the show’s 56-year history. Chibnall also threw a trio of new companions and spent basically an entire season avoiding all the classic Who enemies and story arcs to instead focus on new perils in short standalone adventures. And it really didn’t work.
And I can’t really lay the blame at Whittaker’s feet for this. She’s been given a historic task to accomplish, and she definitely has the talent to pull it off, but she was given very little to do except either run around flustered or gawk at space baubles. Meanwhile, the chemistry between the companions was iffy at best, the new enemies introduced were just not memorable at all, and Chibnall had a laughably heavy-handed approach when it came to addressing real-world politics. Unsurprisingly, fans were not happy and calling for a whole new era of Who all over again. Surprisingly though, Chibnall and co have seemingly heard them.
Kicking off with a flashy New Year’s Day special (shot right here in Cape Town!) that reintroduced a classic villain (who I won’t spoil here), season 12 has been firing on all cylinders. Whittaker is actually getting to really show her talents, and the scripts have been way better. The companions still need work (seriously, who thought Tosin Cole (Ryan) could act?), but even the standalone episodes have been thrilling. And then there was this Sunday past’s episode, “Fugitive of the Judoon”. The tale featuring the classic rhino-like alien mercenaries was, simply put, freaking fantastic! In fact, it was beyond a doubt the best of Whittaker’s tenure and produced not just one, but two slobber-knocker plot twists and teased all kinds of massive future stories.
And with Doctor Who’s quality trajectory looking up for the first time in ages, Whittaker has now also confirmed that she will be sticking around for at least one more season. Speaking to EW, the British actress explained that due to Doctor Who, “my life has changed in a wonderful sense,” and she’s not ready to give that up yet.
Yes, I’m doing another season. That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! [Laughs] I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!
With the exception of Christopher Eccleston’s single-season turn to launch the modern incarnation of Doctor Who in 2005, all other previous stars (David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi) have stayed on for three seasons. With the criticisms, many thought that Whittaker would be breaking that trend. As for all that criticism surround season 11 though, the actress says that she’s actually not paid attention to much of it.
I’ve seen loads of fan art, which I always love. But it’s never been that great for me to immerse myself in noise that you can’t control, good or bad. I think both are a rabbit hole that you shouldn’t necessarily go down. We know that we work really hard for the show to be the best it can be in this moment. Once it’s out in the ether, how people feel, in a way, is kind of irrelevant.
What may be relevant though is that Doctor Who has been haemorrhaging viewers since early season 11. The latest season has seen a drop of around a million viewers from episode to episode despite increasingly stronger critical reviews. It appears that the damage had already been done to the fandom, but Doctor Who isn’t going anywhere though. The show is practically a British institution which the BBC won’t let die unless it absolutely tanks its ratings so hard as to become embarrassing. That definitely won’t be happening, especially not after all the buzz the latest episode has generated. So yes, Jodie Whittaker will most certainly be back for another season of Doctor Who. If they left out Ryan though, I definitely wouldn’t shed a tear.
Last Updated: January 31, 2020