It’s been BBC convention for a while now to give away big Doctor Who news in the middle of massive sporting events. Pearl Mackie’s casting announcement as Bill was revealed in the middle of the Euro 2016 final and Jodie Whittaker’s unveiling came at the climax of last year’s Wimbledon. So it’s great to see that Auntie still has enough faith in its biggest property to give the same platform to the new era of Doctor Who, with a brand new trailer shown halfway through the World Cup final. And yet I feel undernourished?
Just about the only thing we can be totally sure of is that this new gang of the Doctor’s “friends” – as the publicity material carefully puts it (no longer “companions”, certainly not the reductive “assistants”) - don’t have very healthy diets. Doctor Thirteen will lead a somewhat crowded Tardis of four made up of: near-national cheeky chappie treasure Bradley Walsh neglecting The Chase as Graham, and talented Hollyoaks alumni Mandip Gill as Yasmin and Tosin Cole as Ryan.
The micro-trailer introduces the trio in a scene that features florid World Cup commentary and various food items being transformed seemingly because Whittaker’s new Doctor is incoming. Ryan is seen tucking into a Full English. Yasmin takes delivery of a deep-dish pizza, while Graham is seeing eyeing up battered sausages in the chippy. Suddenly, the flashes in space-time seem to improve their lots in life just a bit; just as the Doctor approaches their various locations, and meals, get a cosmic upgrade.
When the time came, at half-time during the France v Croatia final, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer could not have looked less interested during their forced intro to the clip. A little more enthusiasm came with the radio dialogue from the BBC team throughout. “The first touch was out of this world,” gushed Shearer. Rio Ferdinand added: “They’ve got the makings of a really strong team. They’ve got great energy, they’ve got great flair. I’m really excited to see what happens.”
Amid all this the main emotion I’m feeling is frustration about how little was on offer. No dialogue, no interaction, certainly no monsters. But what more were we to expect from an early trailer for a series not expected to screen until October? In this case though, perhaps, a little more.
A minor scandal recently saw a scene leak online from an unnamed source which delivered a bit of real Tardis-team action. Who-watchers suggested producers may be opening the flap after the cat had already bolted and, perhaps optimistically, called for a proper look rather than just a teaser.
The brief glimpse did remind me of Tennant’s tenure in the Tardis, a bit more down to earth, a bit less serious. Incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall’s predecessor Steven Moffat delighted in casting the Doctor as out of the ordinary. Matt Smith played the character as a manic imp, while Peter Capaldi managed to emote all of the Doctor’s history with the slightest of tweaks to the crumples on his face. It’s far too soon to judge Whittaker on the basis of seconds of footage: all we’ve seen her do so far is smile. Tennant regularly tops best ever Doctor polls, so maybe a more relatable Doctor is just what’s needed, and Whittaker’s take could provide just that.