As well as giving us a much-anticipated trailer for Series 11, the new Doctor Who team’s appearance at San Diego Comic Con has provided some eagerly awaited information as to the shape of the forthcoming run of episodes – at least in broad brush terms.
Having teased to Radio Times that viewers can look forward to some new monsters, incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall has seemingly ruled out an appearance by the Daleks this year, telling attendees at the Doctor Who panel:
“We’ve got two weeks left of shooting, and we haven’t seen them yet.”
As denials go, it’s less than 100% emphatic and leaves open the possibility that the last fortnight of filming could see an incursion of Skaro’s finest to rival anything that happened in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. There’s also the chance that Chibnall has taken a leaf out of Steven Moffat’s book and decided that the best way to avoid spoilers is to lie about what’s really in the offing.
But his ruling out a meeting for the new Doctor with the Daleks is very much in keeping with everything else he’s said regarding a new start for the show, not to say the series trailer which includes Jodie Whittaker saying ‘new’ no less than five times. Unless Chibnall is well and truly leading us up the garden path, it seems we can expect very few nods to the programme’s past, with his priority being to reach out to the widest possible audience.
Since the 2005 revival, the Daleks have tended to crop up at least once a year but Chibnall may well have decided that it was time to give them a rest. In the classic era, there were number of long stretches between Dalek appearances, the first of these coming after The Evil of the Daleks when Terry Nation sought to launch his creations into their own series, and there will be many who feel that the Doctor spending some time apart from her most significant enemies will be no bad thing.
Chibnall also revealed that the ten episode run will not include any two-part stories.
“It’s a great moment to bring everybody on board. It’s a big, inclusive, accessible mainstream series of 10 really varied, exciting standalone stories. So you won’t see very much from the past.”
Two-part stories have been a conundrum for showrunners in the modern era, the concern always being that ratings are always likely to drop off for the second part as those who didn’t see part one will be reluctant to tune in at the midway point. Moffat has often spoken of the need to take the story in a whole new direction in the latter half of a two-parter to guard against viewers losing interest.
A common complaint about modern Doctor Who is that endings often feel rushed as the story frantically gathers pace to meet the 45 minute running time. We already know we’re in for a few extra minutes per episode in the forthcoming series so Chibnall’s writing team will have been able to allow a little more breathing space, and of course with a reduced episode count the production team will be keen to ensure as much of an impact as possible in the time available to them.
“This year is the perfect jumping-on point for that person in your life who has never watched Doctor Who,’ said Chibnall before adding his own call to arms, “I want you to go out there and recruit that person.”
So what do you think? Will you miss the Daleks in the new series, or are you more interested in seeing new foes? Would you have liked to see some two-parters or are you happy with single episode stories? And who will you be signing up to watch Doctor Who? Let us know!