UPDATE: Yep, as some of you guessed, this was an April Fool’s Day gag; Series 12 won’t – to our knowledge – tackle Brexit head-on. But c’mon, a small part of you believed it, right? But who wrote this piece? Who shall we pin the blame on? We invite DWC readers to take a guess in the comments section below.
Trying to get news about upcoming Doctor Who episodes is like trying to get blood out of a stone these days, but if recent rumours are to be believed, 2020’s Series 12 is about to get… um… political.
2018 Doctor Who may have focused on American race relations and gun crime – but the sophomore series for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is set to move things a little closer to home. According to a story in the Daily Mirror*, next year’s run of episodes will include a story in which the Doctor travels to the near future and sees the consequences of cataclysmic riots that are the fallout from Brexit.
“It’s going to be as overtly political an episode as Doctor Who has ever done,” says the ‘source’. “It’s got drama, adventure, intrigue, and a host of political commentary. We’ll get to see what happened after the UK left the EU and how it led to food shortages, rioting, the collapse of the internet and health service, and a new dark age. It’s certain to pique young people’s interest in the one of the defining issues of our times.”
While all this is undoubtedly something you should take with a heavy pinch of salt, the Mirror does have form when it comes to leaks, and it would certainly fit the social justice themes that Chibnall seems to want front and centre of his vision of Who. It won’t be the first time Doctor Who has touched on Brexit, either – who can forget the casual disbanding of U.N.I.T. in the wake of funding disputes, as revealed in the New Year Special, Resolution?
It’s unclear whether this episode’s stance will be pro- or anti-Brexit, but it’s likely to be the latter, as the source goes on to state that the story will be penned by none other than Will Self. “The team are really excited to have him on board,” we’re told, “and Will is incredibly excited to be writing about the Doctor”. A celebrated author and columnist in his own right, this will be Self’s first foray into Doctor Who – but he’s connected with the show in a roundabout way, having written a half-hour play for Sky Arts called The Minor Character, starring none other than David Tennant.
Perhaps reflecting the schism that’s split the nation, the episode is set to polarise the TARDIS crew – but not necessarily in the way you think. In a somewhat subversive twist, it’ll be revealed that Bradley Walsh’s character Graham voted Remain in 2016, while Ryan “was too young to vote, but would have voted Leave.”
“There are all sorts of presumptions about how people cast their votes in the last referendum, and the writers are keen to challenge them,” we’re promised. “There are surprises galore, not least for the likes of Jon Snow.”
Is there a villain lurking somewhere in all this? That’s still to be confirmed, but long-term fans will undoubtedly be hankering for a cameo from Alpha Centauri, who appeared in the 1970s Peladon stories, which were seen as analogous to Britain’s dithering over the Common Market. Ysanne Churchman returned to voice the character in Empress of Mars (2017), so we can but hope.
Might we even see the return of Helen A, last seen at the end of The Happiness Patrol, weeping over the corpse of her dead dog? Or is Chibnall setting the stage for the return of Jack Robertson, the villainous property tycoon with political ambitions, last seen in Arachnids In The UK?
We’ll have to wait to find out – and so, it seems, will the crew. The source goes on to report that filming for this episode is likely to be delayed until a later production block, “giving the BBC time to finalise the script so that it’s as up-to-date as the current, drastically fluctuating political situation will allow.
“This story is going to have a post-apocalyptic, dystopian feel to it, and they’re currently looking at suitable locations. Redcar is a current favourite – as is Slough, or possibly Pontefract.”
So. Brexit, then. Some fans will undoubtedly be livid – others will say it’s about time. Will this episode be a masterpiece in the making, or is it going to leave the Mail frothing at the mouth? Let us know your views in the comments!
* UPDATE: We understand that The Mirror has since taken down the original article, presumably as a temporary measure.