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DOCTOR WHO Casting Rumors Have Us Scratching Our Heads

Heaven (Sent) help us, we’re still a month away from a new episode of Doctor Who–the first in exactly a year–and we’re still at least four months away (I’m betting on a March or April premiere) from the next full series of the show. This is to say, we’ve had a dearth of Doctor Who in our lives, and all the tidbits being released about series 10, Steven Moffat‘s final year as showrunner, have us even more excited than we would be anyway. But a new rumor has us curious about what series 11 might hold–i.e. a clean break. Oh we’re talking all about it in today’s Nerdist News!

According to British gossip rag The Mirror (remember when I put the word “rumor” in boldface above? This wasn’t a mistake; The Mirror is a huge entertainment tabloid over there), the BBC is pushing for series 11, the first with brand new showrunner Chris Chibnall, to have a “clean slate,” with a brand new (younger) Doctor and a brand new companion. Series 10 will be the third for lead actor Peter Capaldi and the first for new companion Pearl Mackie, who evidently signed a one-year contract.

According to The Mirror‘s source:

“BBC management wants a return to the format from the David Tennant era, when you had a dashing male lead and young female companion.

“Merchandising has dropped off sharply in recent years and there is a strong desire to boost the show’s popularity among kids.”

Now, I have a lot of opinions about this, and most of them are to call this utter hogwash. Want some bullet points? Great!

  • The show hasn’t been on for a full calendar year. You want to wonder why merchandising has dropped? Maybe because there’s no show to get people excited about new adventures and new monsters to turn into toys.
  • I haven’t seen nearly the amount of toys and merchandise surrounding the Capaldi era as I did with the deluge surrounding Matt Smith.
  • Also, Matt Smith’s tenure culminated in the 50th Anniversary, when global interest in the show was at an all time high.
  • Pearl Mackie hasn’t even fucking been on the show yet! How can you already say they she’s not going to connect with kids if all of we’ve seen of her is a two minute teaser?
  • The idea of a “return to the format from the David Tennant-era” is incredibly short-sighted and regressive. If there’s one thing the show doesn’t need, it’s a formula that has become so passe.
  • Whether or not Capaldi (who is 58) will vacate the role following series 10, the one thing the BBC absolutely cannot do is have more of the same regarding casting choices. There badly needs to be a shakeup in terms of who plays the Doctor–i.e., not a white guy–and while the source doesn’t say “white” regarding the dashing Tennant-esque Doctor, it shows a clear desire not to think outside the box one iota. When HASN’T there been a dashing Doctor and a young female companion?

The one thing I can believe about this is that the BBC will try to push Chibnall into doing whatever they want Doctor Who to be. Under Russell T. Davies, the show became a hit, and under Steven Moffat, the show only picked up in popularity. But in both of those cases, the lead writer and executive producer has had a huge amount of say in how the show is made and the path it follows. The creative fingerprint was clearly theirs.

Chibnall has done some good work undoubtedly, but has almost always run shows by facilitating them. Series 1 of Broadchurch is a major exception, and was a refreshing and chilling story, but look at series 2… ITV wanted more, and what they got was soap opera tripe. In my humble opinion anyway.

At any rate, the notion of the BBC recognizing the cash cow for what it is and wanting to shape it for maximum child-friendliness does not instill a lot of hope in me for the future of the show. But, we can always take comfort in the fact that this is just The Mirror…and that we have a whole year before it’ll be an issue.

Let me know your thoughts on this pile of shenanigans in the comments below!

Image: BBC

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor and the resident Whovian for Nerdist. Follow him on Twitter!

At least we have Sherlock to look forward to!

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