Buckle up, Whovians, because Doctor Who’s timey-wimey-ness is about to get even timey-wimey-er.
Showrunner Russell T Davies has teased that Doctor Who’s third and final 60th anniversary episode, “The Giggle” (airing Saturday 9th December) will kick-start “a whole new Doctor Who mythology” that will – no stranger to hyperbole, RTD – “rock the world”.
Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine in issue 598, Davies draws fans’ attention to the in-vision episode commentary that will be available on BBC iPlayer after “The Giggle” airs – featuring him, producer Phil Collinson and David Tennant – and revealed that “controversial events” in this episode would lead to a huge change for Doctor Who:
“If you listen and watch the commentary on iPlayer, I unroll a whole new Doctor Who mythology for you, based around the events taking place. And I’m explaining this to David Tennant and his mind is exploding. That commentary will have absolutely exclusive information that will rock the world. I hope you’ll all find it fascinating. It’s a whole new way of looking at the history of Doctor Who and I can’t wait to see the reaction.”
Quite what this new mythology is, and how it will affect series 14, remains to be seen, but it certainly sounds like the Doctor Who team is marking the 60th anniversary with a significant change.
If you’re feeling more nervous than excited about what this new era might hold, it’s worth remembering that this is par for the course with Doctor Who and far from the first time the Whoniverse has undergone a big adjustment.
It’s not even the first time Russell T Davies has shaken things up: when he first became showrunner for the revived Doctor Who in 2005, he introduced The Time War – a catastrophic conflict between the Time Lords and the Daleks – the ramifications of which were felt throughout Nu-Who. The Ninth (Christopher Eccleston), Tenth (David Tennant) and Eleventh (Matt Smith) Doctors were all tortured with guilt about their role in ending this Time War by destroying both the Daleks and Gallifrey, and with it the Time Lord race.
That is, until the Steven Moffat-written 50th anniversary episode “The Day of The Doctor”, when everything changed again, and it was revealed that all iterations of The Doctor had joined forces to save Gallifrey by freezing it in time and hiding it away in a pocket universe.
That was before Sacha Dhawan’s Master came calling with his own destructive plan after another huge canon-change. Ex-showrunner Chris Chibnall completely shook up Doctor Who mythology by introducing The Timeless Child, revealing that The Doctor wasn’t from Gallifrey, but arrived there as a child through a mysterious tear in space, where a Gallifreyan called Tecteun adopted them and discovered their ability to regenerate.
Tecteun experimented on the child, extracting the ability to regenerate, and used this as the genetic template for the Time Lords – thereby changing Who canon by making William Hartnell’s Doctor not the character’s first incarnation. The Timeless Child arc was addressed in the second 60th special “Wild Blue Yonder”, cementing its canonical status for the Fourteenth – and presumably Fifteenth – Doctors.
Okay, yes, some of these canonical changes have been met with heavier criticism than others, and Davies himself is calling this one “controversial”, but let’s face it: Doctor Who only still exists because of big, explosive changes like this.
The very fact that the Doctor can regenerate was introduced because first Doctor William Hartnell became too ill to continue in the role. Without that development back in 1966, three years into the show’s history, Doctor Who wouldn’t be celebrating its 60th anniversary at all.
In conclusion, whatever Davies has planned? If it keeps Doctor Who alive, then bring it on.
Doctor Who continues with The Giggle, which airs on BBC One and iPlayer at 6.30pm on Saturday 9th December, and on Disney+ around the world.
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