When it was announced that Russell T Davies was set to return as the showrunner in 2023, one interesting thing that came out of all the interviews he gave was how he believed that Doctor Who could match things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in terms of its multi-series/storytelling aspects.
I have to agree: Doctor Who has so much rich mythology to be explored and so many great characters who deserve to come back or be introduced; there are even aspects of books, comics, and audios that could be weaved into a rich new ways of storytelling. Let’s not forget Davies has already kind of done this kind of thing, culminating in The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End.
Here are 10 spin-off series we’d love to see — from those that had been mooted around the BBC over the years, to brand new things!
1. The Paternoster Gang
This idea was mooted around the BBC after their introduction in A Good Man Goes to War, and The Crimson Horror was also quite possibly used as a backdoor pilot to see how the series could work. What The Paternoster Gang has is a strong set of characters in Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. Big Finish has been telling some great stories with them on audio, but how great would it have been to see them on screen?
The BBC do period dramas really well, and keeping the action in Victorian London would definitely play to that strength. It was also clear how much Steven Moffat enjoyed writing for those characters, bringing them back time and again. But they haven’t been seen since Peter Capaldi was the Doctor and I doubt Davies would be in any great hurry to bring them back, but maybe, if he teams up with Moffat, we could see these three once more.
We could see villains like Jack the Ripper or characters like Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde getting a Doctor Who twist. We could see more from the Silurians and learn why they shunned Vastra and learn more about Jenny’s family. Strax could be ordered back to Sontar. There are so many good ideas for this series that it’s a shame nothing ever came of it when the idea was first thrown around.
2. The Fugitive Doctor
While this will have to wait until after Chris Chibnall has finished with his era of the show, just to see where Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor goes, a series, set before – presumably – William Hartnell’s incarnation could be a great way to explore things like The Dark Times. We could get a good look at what Gallifrey’s early civilisation looked like and see the seeds sown for the First Doctor running away.
I’ve really enjoyed Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor; she has such a presence when she is on screen — so much so that I think she outshines Jodie Whittaker every time the pair share airtime. And now we know that Karvanista was her companion, and her ties to the Division, it could give us a really cool espionage series.
We could see creatures like the Racnoss or the Daemons come back, and get to see more of her fantastic TARDIS design. Swarm and Azure could come back (they were seriously done dirty in the Flux finale). It could be a great ride and Jo Martin more than has it in her to lead her own series. But as I said above, we’ll have to wait and watch happens as the Thirteenth Doctor’s era winds down.
This is a series that always gets mentioned in articles like this. But think about it for a minute. Big Finish has carried the series on from the end of Miracle Day and I think a resurrection could work on television too.
They could bring back a few original characters like Gwen and Rhys, and even have characters from other spin-offs and Doctor Who proper.
Torchwood could be a good way of telling more adult stories with the maturity of Children of Earth but dialling down on some of the language and raunchy scenes that plagued the first two series. Russell T Davies has more of the maturity Torchwood needs to be brought back and tell some seriously brilliant stories.
4. The Eighth Doctor Adventures
With only two on screen appearances as the Doctor properly, Paul McGann more than deserves to make an on screen come back in his own series! Since the early years of Big Finish, we’ve had some great adventures with him on audio, but how amazing would it be to get him back on the small screen!
Setting the series either just before or in the opening years of the Time War would make a lot of sense. While I doubt characters like Grace Holloway or Chang-Lee could come back from The TV Movie, you could either have a brand new companion or see characters like Charlotte Pollard and Lucy Miller on screen, giving them brand new stories, while adapting some others to television.
There are lots of stories to be told from the Eighth Doctor’s era that we haven’t seen, read, or heard — and giving Paul McGann a chance to come back and finally be the Doctor would be an amazing opportunity!
Again, Big Finish has been doing UNIT stories since their early years but UNIT has always played a big part of the on screen persona of Doctor Who, so it seems only right that one day they should get their own spin-off series.
There are lots of characters and eras to choose from: you’ve got UNIT from Russell T Davies era led by Captain Magambo, or the late ’80s with Brigadier Bambera, or the newest incarnation with Kate Stewart and Osgood. There is also a lot you could play with in a UNIT series, not only with the latest revelations of the Grand Serpent from Flux, but also in the extended media, we’ve got things like LONGBOW or the Counter-Measures team, both predecessors to UNIT. In books like The Scales of Injustice and Who Killed Kennedy?, there is the Glasshouse Project, where UNIT stored all the acquired alien technology.
There is no shortage of baddies to make the opening series a hit. From Autons to Axons, Kraals to Krynoids, Daleks to Destroyers. There are so many great baddies to really put UNIT through their paces; hopefully Russell T Davies will keep them in the Whoniverse when he takes back the reigns!
6. A Charitable Earth
It’s such a shame that we never saw Ace in The Sarah Jane Adventures. She was supposed to appear, alongside Sarah Jane and the Bannerman Road gang and Jo Jones in the Series 5 finale, The Battle of Bannerman Road. Alas, with the sudden death of Elisabeth Sladen, that wasn’t to be, but it’s always been a shame that Ace has never appeared again.
With the trailer for the Series 26 Blu-ray set, actress Sophie Aldred proved she still has it and her appearances as Ace on audio have been brilliant. And in many ways, A Charitable Earth would have been the perfect follow up to The Sarah Jane Adventures. When Farewell Sarah Jane was released, K9 and Mr. Smith leave and are taken by Ace to help her keep the planet safe, following the legacy of Sarah Jane.
If you didn’t want to take that route, then this could be like a Star Trek Picard situation where we deal with past characters in a new way. You could bring Mel back, for instance, or characters from the wider Doctor Who universe. Let’s hope Davies still feels passionate about bringing back Ace!
We’ve only ever seen Gallifrey in the modern series getting destroyed again and again, so how good would it be to see the Doctor’s home-world (sort of) in its prime?!
Set years before the Gallifrey we know and love, over the course of this series we could see Gallifrey created, the instigation of the Matrix, the discovery of time travel — even their war with the Great Vampires. The way I’d do this series is seeing how Shebogans, the indigenous people of Gallifrey, came to be called Time Lords and Gallifreyans. We could see them split and some of them — perhaps Rassilon, Omega, Tecteun, and The Other (though those two last ones might be the same person) — building the citadel that would become the centre of Gallifrey.
From extended media, we’ve got threats like The Pythia and The Imperatrix; even Rassilon could be a baddie, given his actions over the course of Doctor Who. I think following the template of shows like Krypton could be a good way of handling Gallifrey with a darker tone than we are perhaps used to. With the audience knowing what will happen to the planet in the future, it gives us something to look forward to, while making the characters compelling enough to keep us fully invested in seeing how they shape the society that is to come.
And it’d be nice to see Gallifrey not getting destroyed for once!
8. River Song
Over the course of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Eleventh Doctor and then from Big Finish, River Song has met all the Doctor’s that we know of and has fought and befriended most of the Doctor’s enemies and allies.
But Alex Kingston more than has it in her to lead her own series. Given her past as an archaeologist, the show could include characters like Bernice Summerfield, giving her a chance to make her first on-screen appearance, given how she is kind of one of the Doctor’s longest running companions.
River and Bernice could stay as companions throughout the series, while River Song possibly learns more about her origins and why Kovarian was training her as an assassin. It would be a great way to explore why she wanted the Doctor dead and Bernice learning that River and the Doctor are actually married would be hilarious too! Given how Davies had a hand in River Song’s creation, with her featuring under his tenure as showrunner, then maybe he might just bring her back again in adventures that don’t feature the Doctor?
9. The Corsair
First mentioned in The Doctor’s Wife and then later appearing in Thirteenth Doctor’s run at Titan Comics, the Corsair is an old roguish friend of the Doctor. There is a lot we don’t know about the character, apart from the snake tattoo and the fact that they eventually end up on the asteroid House.
What I really like about the character is the wide belief that they had a pirate theme, so their TARDIS could be modelled in the form of a pirate ship, and their costume could be modelled off a mariner of some kind. As for actors, I think Ruth Bradley or Alexander Vlahos would make excellent choices for the title role.
And given how we really don’t know much about the character, it is someone Davies could have a lot of fun exploring, and give us some excellent adventures which prove why the Doctor rightly looked up to the Corsair.
10. What If?
Parallel universes aren’t something new to Doctor Who. But proper exploration of them is. In Survivors of the Flux, we find the headquarters of the Division hidden in the Void, the space between universes. But what sort of things happened in the other universes, like the one that it is believed the Doctor now comes from?
Marvel has recently completed their opening series of What If? which explores different takes on characters and storylines. Doctor Who could probably do something similar. What if the Daleks weren’t evil? What if the Doctor had never been found by Tecteun? What if the Cybermen never left Mondas? There are some fantastic stories to be told here, and a half-hour animated format, as with Marvel, might just be the platform to explore these ideas.
Maybe it could be explained that something on Gallifrey or something to do with the Division is going wrong and ruptures are occurring in the multiverse and things are bleeding through. Some characters from the ‘prime’ universe have to go through the breach and fix what is going on before the multiverse collapses completely.
If Russell T Davies does believe that Doctor Who could sustain an MCU way of storytelling, then a What If inspired series could be a great, and quick, way of giving us new stories for characters we’re familiar with.
The topic of spin-offs is always hard because you could argue that almost every single character and concept in Doctor Who deserves one. Since The Talons of Weng-Chiang when the BBC were trying to decide whether or not to give Jago and Litefoot more screen time, to K9 & Company, to Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures — even K9 and Class have proven that Doctor Who has enough mythos and fans to warrant more series.
It might be a little too hopeful to think that Davies would be considering spin-offs at this early stage of planning his next few years. But having said that, the idea of Torchwood must have been going around his head since he started writing for the Ninth Doctor. So who knows? With three more Thirteenth Doctor stories and then a whole new Doctor and era to enjoy, anything is possible.
What spin-offs would you like to see? Or do you think just focussing on Doctor Who alone is enough? Let us know in the comments section below!