Later this month, Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yaz), and John Bishop's (Dan) are set to hit our screens for a new series of adventures unlike any that this Doctor has seen before. With Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones) joining them as Vinder & a storyline so massive that it needs all of Series 13 to tell it, the BBC's Doctor Who: Flux finds Team TARDIS facing off with their greatest threat yet, The Flux. And it's bringing the fight of our heroes' lives to the front doors of the TARDIS. Sontarans! Weeping Angels! Ravagers! And more threats from across time and space- all focused on eliminating the threat of the Doctor once and for all. In an interview with showrunner Chris Chibnall, costume designer Ray Holman, and prosthetics expert Danny Marie Elias in the current issue of Doctor Who Magazine, the trio explains why the Sontarans are returning as well as the design viewers can expect.
As for why the warrior race will be part of The Flux's plan, Chibnall didn't mince words. "I love the Sontarans, and I thought they were due a comeback," he explained. "I'd had the idea about Jodie's Doctor going up against them for a long time – you might remember that she mentioned them in her online COVID message last year. That was a little hint!" And as for how things go in Doctor Who: Flux, viewers should expect some big (bad) things from them. "You'll find that the Sontarans pose quite a threat in this series. They're great villains. One of the episodes, in particular, is a massive Sontaran adventure," Chibnall added.
As for their look, Holman explained that they looked to make-up designer Sandra Exelby and costume designer James Acheson's creation from the 1970s for the at-war look that was needed. "I went right back to the classic Sontaran designs. I did research into what they used to look like and thought it would be great to reference the various designs that have gone in the past," Holman revealed. "The 2008 Sontarans are gorgeous, but the scripts we're working with are about war and battlefields. These Sontarans should be down-and-dirty warmongers in the mud, conquering the universe. It was either Chris or me who said they need to be dirty, filthy Sontarans. After that, they were always referred to as 'the dirty, filthy Sontarans'. Chris and I laughed about that, but it really helped inform the tone."
For Elias, it was fascinating to watch their concept evolve over time as it found a way to honor the designs that came before it while also allowing the creative team to make an impact of their own. "It was really interesting to see how they'd morphed over time, from really being broken down and beaten up, and that classic shape and style, to later versions where their faces became a lot more animated, with a lot more detail," Elias explained. "We set about stripping that back. We went back as far as we could, and then added our own markings to it. The question we set ourselves was: 'How do we move forward with the design, without losing the integrity and the original feel that everybody knows and loves?' I think we ended up finding a sweet spot, which made us feel like we'd given credit to the very original version but still allowed it to feel like it lived and breathed in 2021."