Doctor Who Showrunner, EP Update Series 13; Talk COVID-Related Changes

This Sunday marks the release of something Doctor Who fans have been waiting a long time for: the official trailer for the upcoming festive special, "Revolution of the Daleks." The adventure finds the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) locked away in a space prison, leaving Captain Jack (John Barrowman) to team up with the Doctor's TARDIS fam of Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh), and Ryan (Tosin Cole) to save the Earth from the machinations of the Daleks- and not any kind of Dalek you've seen before. But that's not all, because as the excitement grows for the special, production is already underway on the 8-episode Series 13 (one that could air late 2021 or early 2022)- and now showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens are revealing to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the work.

Doctor Who Series 13 filming is underway (Image: BBC)
Doctor Who Series 13 filming is underway (Image: BBC)

The first thing viewers should know is that aside from there being three fewer episodes, the new series won't be able to have that global feel that the previous season had. "Basically, for the past six months we've been going, 'How do we make Doctor Who in the middle of a pandemic?'. We had to re-interrogate absolutely everything. We couldn't do [New Year's Day episode] 'Spyfall' this year. We won't be able to do overseas filming. Editorially, production-wise, logistically, health-and-safety-wise, it's had a massive impact."

Still, Chibnall's creative team is "incredibly excited" to be back at work, adding "as much as possible at the moment everybody's smiling, and we've got some really lovely, great, mad, scary ideas." While some of those ideas will be teased and touched upon in the special, most will play out during a 13th series that Strevens doesn't want viewers thinking of as "that COVID season." The executive producer explained, "The biggest thing is that when series 13 finally does air, whenever that is, we never want people to watch it under a caveat of COVID, going, 'Ah, well, but they made this during the pandemic,'."

Strevens continued, "We want to make sure that when you watch it, it's – no pun intended – timeless, and feels as exciting and as high-end as we've tried to make the series since we took over. That was the driving impulse behind looking at the narratives and reducing the number of episodes slightly: we want to make sure we can give people the biggest production values possible." Following that line of thought, Chibnall said he and the team understand that the world needs the Doctor back in it as soon as possible- safely, of course. "Obviously, every day is unknown. Who knows what the world's going to be like in three weeks or three months? But I think we're all going to want a big dose of Doctor Who escapism, and that's what we're aiming for – to bring a smile to people's faces. And also a bit of dread in their hearts for monsters," Chibnall explained.

"In this strangest of years, the 'Doctor Who' production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production. We're thrilled to be back making the show. Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous COVID working protocols, it's going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11," Chibnall explained regarding production on Series 13 when news that it was underway was first announced. "But rest assured, the ambition, humor, fun, and scares you expect from 'Doctor Who' will all still be firmly in place. For everyone around the world, this is a challenging period – but the Doctor never shirks from a challenge!"

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Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBCA

Speaking on behalf of BBC Studios, Strevens was excited to share the news that production on Series 13 had kicked off. "We are so thrilled to have unlocked the TARDIS, dusted down the sonic, and be able to start filming again for the next season of 'Doctor Who," said Strevens. "The amazing production team, crew, and cast have worked wonders to get us shooting again in these challenging times. It's going to be as fun-filled and action-packed as ever – with plenty of surprises.'

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Doctor Who "Revolution of the Daleks" (Image: BBC America).

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.

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