Doctor Who's 60th anniversary has finally arrived and there couldn't be a better time to be a Time Lord fan.
Following the BBC’s co-production deal with Welsh company Bad Wolf Studios and global distribution deal with Disney+, the future of Doctor Who looks bright, and it starts with Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson’s new companion, Ruby Sunday.
As of 2023 though, it’s been a while since the last series of Doctor Who – while we’ve had the six-part miniseries Flux, aka Series 13, and a series of specials throughout 2022 and 2023 — there hasn’t been a full-length run since Jodie Whittaker’s second series in early 2020.
Then again, given the COVID-19 pandemic and filming restrictions that followed, it’s a marvel that we’ve had any new Doctor Who at all. But with returning head writer and executive producer Russell T. Davies spearheading the next era, the plan is to return to annual Doctor Who series going forward.
Filming on the eight-episode series began in December 2022, with directors Mark Tonderai, (who made 2018 episodes The Ghost Monument and Rosa) Dylan Holmes Williams, (Apple TV’s Servant) and Julie Anne Robinson (Netflix’s Bridgerton) behind the camera on the new series’ first three production blocks.
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho) December 5, 2022
But what can we expect to see and when will it be on TV? There’s already plenty to look forward to, so let’s take a look at what we know so far…
When does Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor Who Series start on TV?
Doctor Who Series 14 is expected to premiere in the UK on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in early 2024. There are currently no confirmed dates, but we do know that the rest of the world can expect to see the show simultaneously with the UK on Disney+, courtesy of the distribution deal that was announced in October 2022.
The first episode to feature the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday will be a Christmas special, due to premiere in the UK in December 2023.
The Doctor Who Christmas special was a fixture of the Christmas Day schedule from 2005 to 2017 but the specials starring Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor went out on New Year’s Day instead.
It’s possible the eight-episode series might continue weekly from there in January, as was the case with the Series 12 premiere, Spyfall Part 1, kicking off Jodie Whittaker’s second series in 2020. In any case, we know that Davies’ goal is to make Doctor Who an annual fixture of the TV schedule again, after two years of specials.
In his column for Doctor Who Magazine, RTD said: “It takes a while to get the empire in shape, but that’s a serious plan: annual Doctor Who, no gap years, lots of content, on and on and on. Yes please!”
Even though series 14 is yet to air, during an interview with BBC morning DJ Zoe Ball, Davies confirmed that filming had also begun on series 15 - suggesting a bright future for Doctor Who fans.
Who stars in Doctor Who Series 14?
Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the next Doctor ahead of the television BAFTA awards on 8 May, 2022. While it was presumed he would succeed Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, her final episode The Power Of The Doctor ended with a surprise regeneration into David Tennant, making Gatwa the Fifteenth Doctor.
Above we can see a 1960's inspired sneak peek at Gatwa's Doctor and Millie Gibson's companion, Ruby Sunday.
Speaking to GQ, Davies described Gatwa’s first script readthrough in January 2023: “He’s so unbelievably stunning. I can’t wait for you to see him. He just lifts your hair off your head. He’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, in every sense. So, very excited.”
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho) November 18, 2022
Gibson was revealed as the Doctor’s new companion Ruby Sunday during the BBC Children In Need telethon on 18 November, 2022. Gibson is best known for her award-winning role in ITV’s Coronation Street, in which she played tearaway teen Kelly Neelan.
Read more: The most exciting TV coming in 2023
Since this casting was announced, we’ve had a costume reveal for the Fifteenth Doctor featuring both actors, with Gatwa donning a tartan-checked coat and trousers and an orange jumper. His Doctor also sports a necklace, some rings, and “Gallifreyan nail tattoos”.
We’ve also had several guest cast announcements, led by the return of Jemma Redgrave as UNIT head Kate Stewart. Introduced in 2012’s The Power Of Three, she’s since appeared with Doctors David Tennant, Matt Smith, John Hurt, Peter Capaldi, and Jodie Whittaker, and she and UNIT will be back with Gatka’s Doctor in Episodes 4 and 5 of the next series.
Newcomers include Aneurin Barnard (Peaky Blinders, The Personal History Of David Copperfield) as a mysterious new character named Roger ap Gwilliam and Jack Forsyth-Noble (Life After Life, Casting Kill) as Will. Anita Dobson (EastEnders), Michelle Greenridge (After Life, It’s A Sin), Millie Kent (The Split) and Sophie Ablett (Taboo) are also among the guest stars announced so far.
In May 2023, it was announced that Frozen and Mindhunter star Jonathan Groff had joined the series in an as-yet-unspecified guest role. On joining Doctor Who, Groff said: “I am so thrilled to jump into the extraordinary mind of Russell T Davies and watch the incredible Ncuti Gatwa soar in this iconic role!”
RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars winner Jinkx Monsoon will also appear in an as-yet-unnamed villainous role that has been teased as "The Doctor’s most powerful enemy."
Reportedly playing a major role in the Doctor's latest outing, showrunner Russel T Davies revealed that their character is on "a collision course with the TARDIS".
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Davies welcomes composer Murray Gold back to the show to soundtrack the Doctor's latest adventures.
Gold originally accompanied Davies when he rebooted the series back in 2005, going on to provide many now-iconic scores for the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth Doctors, alongside themes for Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Rose Tyler, the Daleks, the Master and the Cybermen.
Confirming that he would be working with the BBC Orchestra of Wales, Gold said: "I’m so happy to be invited back for another joyful ride in the TARDIS. I didn’t think twice. Working with Russell and his team is just a pleasure."
In late May, Game of Thrones, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Torchwood star Indira Varma was revealed as the show's latest addition appearing as a mysterious character named the Duchess.
"I’m thrilled to be in Doctor Who and particularly excited to be crossing cosmic paths with Ncuti, as the Doctor, and look forward to creating interplanetary mischief with him," said Varma, marking her second collaboration with Davies following her performance as Suzi Costello in Torchwood.
"I loved playing Suzie Costello for Russell T Davies in Torchwood so am thrilled to be entering this world again."
Davies added: "I’m overjoyed to be reunited with Indira after our Torchwood days, and this part is truly spectacular! A whole new audience will be hiding behind the settee when the Duchess unleashes her terror."
On 7 June it was confirmed that Bonnie Langford would be returning to the franchise as Melanie Bush, a former companion of the Sixth and Seventh Doctors played by Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy respectively. She also made a cameo appearance in Jodie Whittaker's final episode.
Langford will appear in Gatwa's first season as the Doctor, though it has not yet been revealed in what capacity she will be returning.
Of her return, Bonnie Langford said: "I am absolutely thrilled to be bringing Melanie Bush back. To be part of the exceptional cast, crew and production team led by the force of nature that is Russell T Davies is a career highlight.
"I’m so privileged and proud to have been a member of the Doctor Who family since the classic era and to be included in the new generation is phenomenal.”
Davies said in his own statement: “Open those TARDIS doors wide, because Bonnie’s back! What an honour, delight and hoot to welcome back the character of Melanie, after too long away.
"And this isn’t just a cameo, Bonnie is right in the thick of the action, battling monsters and chaos and cliffhangers, right at the Doctor's side, just like the old days.”
In mid-August, Doctor Who Magazine revealed that Still So Awkward star Billy Brayshaw and Hollyoaks actor Majid Mehdizadeh-Valoujerdy will also join the show.
"In the 2024 series, it's a delight to open the studio doors to a former star of Holloaks with Majid Mehdizadeh-Valoujerdy," said producer Phil Collinson. "His character in the 'Oaks, Jesse, died of alcohol poisoning on his wedding day, so let's hope he has a more peaceful time in the Whoniverse. Although I can't promise!
"And, in a separate episode, we're delighted to say hello to Billy Brayshaw. And there are so more names to come!"
Also joining the show is Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan who will join Gatwa in an as-yet-undisclosed role. That said, we did get a quick glimpse at her character via the official Doctor Who Instagram account.
“I’m excited to join the Whoniverse under the leadership of the inimitable Russell T Davies," said Coughlan on joining the show. "I’ve been a fan of Ncuti Gatwa for some time and getting to share the screen with him as the Doctor has been an absolute joy”.
Davies added: “This has been the most brilliant shoot, with Nicola lighting up the set and bringing joy. From Derry, via Bridgerton, to the TARDIS, it’s the trip of a lifetime.”
What happens in Doctor Who Series 14?
At this early stage, plot details for Doctor Who Series 14 are firmly under wraps, but there’s been a steady stream of news about adventures to come.
We’d expect the forthcoming 60th-anniversary specials to address the story of the Doctor’s regeneration(s), while the Christmas special and the next series jump into the Doctor meeting Ruby and going on adventures in the TARDIS.
We recently received word that the new series will welcome two brand new writers, including Kate Herron and Briony Redman who will join forces to write a new episode for Gatwa's fifteenth Doctor.
While details of what their adventure will entail are still locked away, both come hot off other critically acclaimed projects. Herron executive produced and directed the entire first season of Loki for Marvel and Disney+, while Redman is an actor, comedian and BAFTA Rocliffe-winning writer who penned Welsh crime comedy caper Pont Brec.
The pair have collaborated on a number of projects that blend sci-fi and comedy, making them the perfect pick for Doctor Who.
Beyond Series 14, 2024 might also see a variety of spin-offs. In his previous stewardship of Doctor Who, RTD launched Torchwood on BBC Three and The Sarah Jane Adventures on CBBC, and before announcing his return, he spoke in 2021 about how Doctor Who should have a Marvel-sized inter-connected universe of shows.
Didn't have space for this in my interview (also: bit niche) but here's Russell T Davies' vision of an MCU-style future for #DoctorWho, complete with David Tennant/Matt Smith team-up and – the petition starts here, folks – The Nyssa Adventures. https://t.co/dFJhRrbZMU pic.twitter.com/WFobGiHuj1
— Paul Kirkley (@prkirkley) January 22, 2021
Speaking to journalist Paul Kirkley, he said: "You look at those Disney announcements, of all those new Star Wars and Marvel shows, you think, we should be sitting here announcing The Nyssa Adventures or The Return of Donna Noble, and you should have the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors together in a 10-part series.”
Since the news of Davies’ return and that Disney+ deal, there have been various reports about spin-offs involving new and returning characters from the worlds of Doctor Who under the banner of “Whoniverse”.
These were seemingly backed up by a post on Gatwa’s Instagram in January, where he poses in front of a Whoniverse logo featuring his Doctor on the wall at Bad Wolf Studios.
Maybe we won’t get The Nyssa Adventures, but true to Davies’ word, the Whoniverse is opening up and it all begins with the Fifteenth Doctor and Ruby Sunday, coming soon to our TV screens…
Doctor Who returns to our screens with David Tennant for the 60th anniversary specials on 25 November and 2 and 9 December.
Watch: David Tennant films Doctor Who in Bristol