Doctor Who: Release date, cast, plot as Indira Varma joins Ncuti Gatwa series
New season, new Doctor, new enemies. Here's what you need to know...
Game of Thrones star Indira Varma is the latest name announced to be joining Doctor Who for its upcoming fourteenth season.
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.
Read more: Doctor Who stars welcome Ncuti Gatwa to the show
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.
💙💙➕🎬 Action! Filming has officially begun today for the next series of #DoctorWho. pic.twitter.com/SQU0SbPJSb
— 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 is Doctor Who Series 14 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.
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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!”
Who’s 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.”
Here's the moment Millie Gibson walked out of the TARDIS, LIVE on @BBCCiN! 😱 pic.twitter.com/CqHB2Wa9c7
— 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.
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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."
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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."
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.
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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…
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