The stakes are always high in Doctor Who, but this year it feels like things are getting bigger. With Jodie Whittaker’s time as the Thirteenth Doctor coming to an end in 2022, there is the sense that the BBC is trying to regain some of the magic of the show’s earlier years. The 60th Anniversary specials are bringing back some familiar names to the series and giving international audiences an easier way to board the Tardis.
The obvious news is that David Tennant is back as the Fourteenth Doctor after previously having played the Tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2008. Tennant is a fan-favorite Doctor and the move to bring him back is probably an attempt to recapture some of the magic from what is seen as the best of the New Who era. Returning along with Tennant for the 60th Anniversary specials this holiday season is Russell T. Davies, who was the showrunner for the series when it first returned from its 16-year hiatus on the BBC. Davies is slated to write all three 60th Anniversary episodes this year.
All of this has been building incredible hype for the show, which is set to stream for the first time on Disney+ for international audiences. Early reviews for the first special episode, The Star Beast, are hailing it as a wild success and calling it a return to “Saturday Night Magic” for the franchise, setting up lofty expectations when Ncuti Gatwa finally gets his turn as The Fifteenth Doctor in the upcoming season. There are already massive Reddit threads speculating on exactly what will happen in the holiday episodes and when Gatwa’s Doctor will make his long-awaited debut.
There is a sense that the BBC is using this transition to push for a more mainstream future for Doctor Who. The partnership with Disney+ will give fans outside the UK easier access to the episodes, which are being rebranded as Season One despite Doctor Who first being broadcast in 1963. They want to make the show feel more accessible by removing sixty years of backstory without pulling a full-blown comic book reboot.
Will all this work? Are we entering a new Golden Era of The Doctor? It is tough to tell without having seen the episodes yet. We know that Davies and Tennant can deliver great Doctor Who stories, but hype can be poison if you can’t deliver on it. Hopefully, fans give Gatwa a chance to grow into the role the way they did his predecessors, but it looks like the BBC is going to be looking for quick results from the upcoming season.
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