It’s been an agonising 18 long months since the last series of Doctor Who (New Year’s Day 2021 special excepted), but at 6.25pm on 31 October, the Doctor, in the guise of Jodie Whittaker, returns for a brand new, six-part season entitled Flux.
So, what do we know about it…?
Expect something new
Whereas previous seasons of Doctor Who have been episodic in nature, this run offers up something thrillingly new – a single six-part epic that promises to take us "from Liverpool to the depths of space, via the Crimean war and a planet named Atropos."
— Doctor Who: Flux (@bbcdoctorwho) October 15, 2021
While it’s not exactly a first for the series (the classic show regularly told stories in four to six parts and 1986’s The Trial Of A Time-Lord told one story over an exhausting 14 weeks), it’s something different for Nu Who, even though it only came about after the production team were forced to rethink the format of the series when the pandemic hit.
"We realised that there were certain things we wouldn’t be able to do in the normal way," explains producer Matt Strevens. “So [showrunner] Chris Chibnall came up with the brilliant idea of going, 'Why don’t we just do something different for our era, wouldn’t it be great if we told one big story?' We knew we wouldn’t be able to do the same number of episodes in the time that we had so he came up with the fantastic idea of this overarching narrative."
"The Flux," teases Chibnall, "is a mysterious event that is going to have an effect on all the characters in the story..."
So, who’s back?
We said sayonara to two of the TARDIS regulars – Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) – at the end of January’s Revolution Of The Daleks, leaving just the Doctor and Yaz (Mandip Gill) to adventure through time and space. Joining them this series is comedian and actor John Bishop as Dan, a character who, when we first meet him, is working at a Liverpool food bank.
"John is just perfect in it and Dan is a glorious character," says Strevens. "Warm, funny, and an action hero."
"I like his humility, his willingness to help people," adds Bishop whose last acting job was in ITV’s Fearless in 2017. "I liked his caring nature because he cares deeply for the Doctor and Yaz and wants them to be happy. He’s really prepared to stand up to those who are doing something wrong."
"Getting to know John has been wonderful," beams Jodie Whittaker. "He came in at 110% with his energy and enthusiasm. He’s been a massive team player."
Joining Bishop as a series regular is Jacob Anderson, best known as Grey Worm in Game Of Thrones.
"I really hope people like Vinder," says Anderson. "As a fan of the show and as a fan of those characters that come in and recur, there are some really iconic characters. Like River Song, and Osgood and all these people you really remember and I hope Vinder can be a part of that."
What old monsters are returning?
Some of Doctor Who’s most iconic adversaries will be back in Flux, including the Weeping Angels, the Cybermen, and – for the first time in many years – the Sontarans. (No word on the Daleks or Mandrels yet, but we live in hope.)
"I felt like there hadn’t been a big Sontaran story for quite a long time," says Chibnall about the return of the militaristic potatoheads. "They have a great mix of threat and humour, they’re very identifiable, they’re great characters as well."
"The thing that’s fun about working with monsters that have been in it before, but are new to me," adds Whittaker, "is that it makes you feel like you are getting your moment of history… like Sontarans, for me it’s my first [as The Doctor] so that was great."
What guest stars can we expect?
As usual, there’s a host of famous faces guesting in this series, including Rochenda Sandall (Line Of Duty), Annabel Scholey (Being Human), Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners), Kevin McNally (Unforgotten, Pirates Of The Caribbean and Hugo Lang in the 1984 Doctor Who story The Twin Dilemma), Sam Spruell (Luther), Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet), Steve Oram (Sightseers), Thaddea Graham (The Irregulars) and the Caddy himself, Craig Parkinson.
Is this Jodie’s last series as the 13th Doctor?
Flux will be the final series for Whittaker’s Doctor, but it’s not quite the last we’ll see of her.
There will be three specials next year before the new Doctor and the new showrunner Russell T Davies take over for the 60th anniversary special in November 2023.
So, while Whittaker’s already lensed her final scene, we’re not going to be saying goodbye to her just yet.
What else do we know?
As usual with Doctor Who, little has leaked about this forthcoming season (remember how well kept last series’ big reveal was about Jo Martin’s Doctor?). What we do know are the titles of the first two episodes – The Halloween Apocalypse and War Of The Sontarans - that it’s six episodes long and that Chibnall has written every episode of the season (a first for Doctor Who).
"My vision for the series was to create a massive story," says the outgoing showrunner.
"Bigger than we’ve ever told with Jodie’s Doctor. And to start with an episode that feels like a finale and carry on from there. I wanted it to be really epic, to be fun with lots of cliffhangers, to be surprising, and to really do things we hadn’t yet done with the 13th Doctor."
"It’s bigger and better than ever," adds Whittaker. "It’s my final full series, there’ll be questions asked, there’ll be answers and there’ll be exclamation marks!"
Doctor Who: Flux starts at 6.25pm on BBC One on Sunday, 31 October.
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