The most recent season of Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, had already finished up its run when most of the world started to go into lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, though it's only been a little more than nine months since we last saw the Doctor and her Companions, the wait feels especially long indeed, and a delay in the start of production on the upcoming series, Whittaker's third in the TARDIS, has meant that we're not entirely sure when we can expect new episodes beyond the upcoming holiday special.
Now, showrunner Chris Chibnall is reassuring Whovians that, while he can't say the exact date yet, the wait shouldn't be long now.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly ahead of the release of the upcoming New Year's special, Chibnall assured fans that a release date will be coming soon, and the plan is to drop Series 13 (in the "New Who" era that began in 2005) without any delays.
"Yeah, I’ve got an idea," he said when asked if he could offer any hints of a release window. "But Charlotte Moore (the BBC's chief content officer) would send 'the boys' round if I told you any hints. As soon as we finish it, I promise we’ll put it on telly straight away."
Doctor Who will return this week for the 2021 New Year's special episode, "Revolution of the Daleks," an adventure that will see The Doctor's Companions — known collectively as "the fam" — team up with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) to battle a new kind of Dalek while the Doctor herself is in space prison. It's a welcome and much-anticipated return, but also something of a bittersweet one, as both Whittaker and Chibnall confirmed earlier this year that it will mark the end of "the fam" as we know it.
Co-stars Bradley Walsh (Graham) and Tosin Cole (Ryan) will be departing the series after the New Year's special, leaving the TARDIS that much emptier as The Doctor and Yaz (Mandip Gill) carry on without them. Of course, that kind of core cast shake-up also brings with it plenty of questions about the shape of the show heading into the new series, which only makes fans more eager to see the new episodes.
In a normal year, we might be able to look forward to a new Doctor Who series as early as January, and indeed that's exactly what happened in the early weeks of 2020 as Series 12 picked up days after the New Year's special. Of course, the rest of 2020 turned out to be anything but a normal year, and the start of production on Series 13 was pushed back a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, filming did finally begin in November, and Chibnall is eager to show off what he and the cast and crew have been up to.
"We’re filming as we speak," Chris Chibnall told EW. "We’ve got lots of new characters, new monsters, some old ones coming back. We’re only a few weeks in. We’re obviously having to work in a very different way, under COVID protocols. So, it’s not without its challenges but every series of Doctor Who has had its challenges. At the moment, everybody's smiling and what we’ve got so far is really thrilling."
"Revolution of the Daleks" airs New Year's Day on BBC America.