Season 11 of Doctor Who is full of new faces in new places. Brand new showrunner Chris Chibnall is in charge, while Jodie Whittaker is the new Doctor. They’re joined by new companions Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh.
Season 11 begins on BBC One and BBC America Sunday. Late last month, Chibnall, Whittaker and the cast gathered in Sheffield England, for the premiere of the season’s first episode, The Woman Who Fell to Earth.
Here’s what we learned about season 11 from the boisterous Q&A session that followed.
Season 11 is made of Sheffield steel
American viewers may be baffled by references to Sheffield, but all you need to know is that the characters are from the city near the centre of England known for its industrial heritage — and plain-spoken inhabitants. “It feels really important to connect Dr. Who to Sheffield,” Chibnall said. “With a new Doctor you want to ground it in a home, and I’ve lived in the city for a year, I knew how cinematic it was, I knew how most of the people were as well. It just gives you a different humour and people saying it as it is.”
Fame hasn’t gone to Mandeep Gill and Tosin Cole’s heads — yet
“There was a lady the other day reading the Doctor Who Magazine next to me,” recalls Gill of a recent train ride. “She offered me chocolate and then she said, I love Doctor Who, so I thought she’s obviously recognized me… She hadn’t.” Tosin Cole has also been kept grounded by his family’s reaction. “My dad thinks I’m in Star Trek for some reason,” he laughed.
It’s not just the cast that’s all new
Chibnall has ruled out returns for any familiar monsters and enemies like the Daleks or Cybermen. “This year we’ve got new monsters and new faces,” he said. But he admitted that, having been a fan of the show since he was four years old, there were lots of things he’d like to bring back in future seasons.
Bradley Walsh is pretty old
“My Doctor Who background was watching William Hartnell and Pat Troughton,” he said of his days watching the earliest Doctors back when the show first began in 1963. “As soon as it got to colour I stopped watching it because I was too busy playing football.” In fact, he reckons the episode in which he appears is the first episode of Doctor Who he’s seen since 1970.
But he’s not that old
“I’m a 14-year-old kid trapped in a 58-year-old man’s body,” Walsh joked. Meanwhile his aged appearance on screen required a little assistance, as his hair wasn’t grey enough. “I’ve never worn a wig before,” he said. “I quite liked it. I’m now having one made for weekends, but blonde.”
The new series is Who through and through
“I hope it demonstrates everything that you’ve come to love about Doctor Who,” said Chris Chibnall of the new series. “There’s action, adventure, alien planets, loads of monsters, historical periods… What we’ve tried to do is show the range of what Doctor Who can do visually, emotionally, geographically, across time and space.”
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