The Doctor Who fanbase has certainly been on a rollercoaster ride of late, between the generally accepted mess that was the Chibnall era complete with a painfully under-used Jodie Whittaker, to the recent David Tennant-shaped bombshell that dropped at the end of Power of the Doctor.
Safe to say though, between Mr. Sand Shoes returning along with beloved showrunner Russell T. Davies and fan favorite companion Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, hype for the future hasn’t been this high for Doctor Who in years. The problem is, Mr. Davies has taken a very Marvel approach with the teasers and left a huge amount of questions hanging.
While Season 14 is certainly a talking point, the biggest questions right now are centered around the 60th-anniversary special set for the end of 2024. Given that the 50th anniversary saw a huge multi-Doctor event that blew everyone’s minds, it’s no wonder the fandom has gone into overdrive ahead of it.
What Doctors Will We See?
There’s no doubt that if they could, fans would want to get every single Doctor that’s still alive involved, although apart from the fact that there will almost certainly be more than one in play at the same time, anything beyond that is really up in the air right now.
The ones we’re most likely to see obviously include Tennant and new face Ncuti Gatwa as they are already confirmed, and there’s a lot of good evidence to suggest that Matt Smith will pop up again. Paul McGann is also famously eager to get involved in whatever Who projects he can, and he’s always a welcome face among the fans.
Beyond that though, things get a lot more wibbly-wobbly. Peter Capaldi is almost certainly a write-off for it, as he hasn’t shown any inclination to making an appearance, although there’s still an off-chance of a cameo to keep his many fans happy. Any of the surviving actors from the classic series may still pop up, although given that they were all dropped into The Power of the Doctor just recently, their appearances may not have the same punch as they did before.
That leaves us with two names: Christopher Ecclestone and Whittaker herself. Whether the 9th Doctor will be involved in this anniversary after being conspicuously absent for the last one is completely up in the air, although fans are encouraged by his recent appearances in the audiobooks at least. He has also seemed warmer to the franchise as a whole recently, although given that his original grudge was partly against Davies, that might throw a spanner in the works
However, Jodie Whittaker is a complete mystery, as she’s only just left the role and didn’t leave in a lot of glory either. Before she was announced, the debate took over the betting world and really lit up the entertainment betting market. Alongside their sports odds, bookmakers around the world have numerous entertainment betting markets with the next person to play a famous character being particularly popular, such as James Bond or Doctor Who. Having a wide range of markets along with generous welcome bonuses is key for sportsbooks in attracting new customers across the world, but especially in the US where the industry is growing rapidly in various states. The state-by-state nature can be seen in how the sportsbooks tailor their services specifically such as Ohio betting apps with welcome offers that vary based on if a customer lives in a different state. Caesars Sportsbook is a good example of this as their welcome offer for Ohio includes entry into a Cleveland Cavaliers ticket draw.
Fan opinion on Whittaker at least was always positive, it was just the writing around her that struggled, so an appearance under the careful watch of Davies would certainly be interesting. If nothing else, giving the 13th Doctor a chance to appear alongside others, something she never got the chance to do in her own run, would at least give her a chance to finally show off her own version of the character that we only ever got hints of before.
Who is the villain?
We already know that Neil Patrick Harris is signed on to be the villain for the special, and not even Doctor Who would waste that big a name on some minor throwaway villain. Speculation on his character as well as links to the bizarre unfolding plot threads has gone wild, with fans trawling through decades of material to find a meaningful character that lines up with everything.
Two candidates seem to have risen to the top of the pile though: the Valeyard and the Toymaker. For those not in the know about classic Who, the Valeyard was a dark version of the Doctor said to be drawn from somewhere between his 12th and final incarnation. He was even name-dropped in the 11th Doctor’s era, but when he never made an appearance, he was thought to have been dropped entirely.
With the events of The Timeless Children though, all bets are off and theoretically, the Valeyard could now appear pretty much at any point. It’s certainly a character that fans have been begging to see for some time now, although how well he ties into to Tennant’s strange full-clothes regeneration and potential sabotage of the process is shaky. While he has the potential to affect it in some way, those abilities have never been made clear.
That’s why the Toymaker is the current favorite, or Celestial Toymaker to give his full name. Everything from sneak peeks at his costume to leaked set photos of a toy shop scream that it’s a remake of an admittedly problematic character design from the show’s early days. Even his ability with illusions and manipulations could certainly play into the bizarre regeneration shenanigans.
How will the new partners change things?
Doctor Who has always proudly been a BBC production, and people have come to expect and even love that slightly low-budget feel to the monsters and designs, even if they have become
a lot more polished over the years. The involvement of the major international partners has therefore caused more than a few ripples within the fandom.
While they have pledged that the BBC will still have complete creative control over things, the foreign media is known for exerting a lot of pressure on their partners for shows appearing on their platforms. For some, a big American name like Neil Patrick Harris is already the first sign of that, although that’s not something people are too concerned about.
What fans ARE more concerned with is how much other aspects of the show might change. Will it become less British in favor of making it more global? Will those famously quirky creature designs get the full Hollywood CG treatment and lose some of that uniqueness?
One big concern for fans is that the show will end up becoming just another homogenous sci-fi show and lose the charm that makes it so unique. Admittedly, Whovians are a very welcoming fanbase as these things go and they’re generally open to new fans, but they worry that the partners will push to tone down all the references and deep lore pulls in an effort to make it extremely accessible to brand-new viewers.
This one unfortunately won’t get a quick answer, as we simply won’t know until we’re a good way into the next few years how big the impact will be.
Those are the biggest questions on fans’ minds right now, although as with anything good in the Whoniverse, there are still plenty more questions than answers. With the BBC’s focus right now being on Season 14, it could be a very long time before we get any concrete answers. Still, what’s the fun in being a Doctor Who fan if you aren’t always asking questions anyway?