Doctor Who's 60th anniversary is fast approaching, but it's just the start of a whole new era in the franchise. The specials will set the tone for returning showrunner Russell T. Davies' second run on the BBC series and allow him to alter or change elements from the past he'd rather not include in the future. Fortunately, for those who are fans of Jodie Whittaker's run as The Doctor, there's nothing to fear when it comes to retcons, and I'm so relieved to read that.
Chris Chibnall's run on Doctor Who brought about a lot of changes, the biggest of which being The Doctor's origin with "The Timeless Child" story. The change was divisive amongst Doctor Who fans, and given the franchise has retconned several plot points over the years, some wondered if the Timeless Child and events for Doctor Who: Flux would be quietly erased. According to Russell T. Davies in a recent interview with Doctor Who Magazine, these arcs will be talked about in the special "Wild Blue Yonder" and beyond (via Radio Times):
The history of the Flux and the Timeless Child is dealt with very slightly in this episode to acknowledge the brilliant work Chris [Chibnall] did and to say that’s absolutely part of our history as well
For those who need a refresher, "The Timeless Child" established The Doctor was not a native of Gallifrey, but a child from another universe found by a Shabogan scientist named Tecteun, who eventually learned the child had limitless regenerative capabilities and found a way to pass this trait on to other Shabogans. Thus, the Time Lords were born, as well as a time-meddling organization known as The Division. The Doctor was a part of this organization, but when Tecteun realized The Doctor was too moral to be a part of it, she had their memory wiped. This explained why The Doctor wasn't aware they originally had unlimited regenerations or were not native to Gallifrey.
As a Doctor Who fan who loved the bold new origin of The Doctor, I'm beyond thrilled by the news that it will continue to be acknowledged. When the BBC announced Russell T. Davies was coming back, as well as the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate for the 60th anniversary, it certainly felt like an effort to roll back the progress the show had made. I worried the show might try to minimize Jodie Whittaker's run and therefore minimize an important part of the series' history.
Fortunately, it appears that Russell T. Davies is fine with maintaining The Doctor's new origin story for now, which I feel is the correct call. While we still have yet to learn for sure whether or not the Doctor maintained their limitless regenerative capabilities after Tecteun's experiments, to erase the story would remove a significant amount of meaning to Jodie Whittaker's run as The Doctor. And, in the case this does mean The Doctor has limitless regenerative capabilities, I might point to my reaction of Whittaker's final episode arguing against a retcon, which showed there are always fates worse than death.
We might see that during the upcoming Doctor Who episodes, all of which will be available with a Disney+ subscription. The 60th anniversary has a talented cast gathered for the specials, and of course, the newly converted Whovian and incoming Doctor actor Ncuti Gatwa is on the way. It's an exciting time to be a fan, and I'm optimistic it'll stay that way for many years to come.
Catch the premiere of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary on Disney+ starting on Saturday, November 25th. Now would be a great time to start streaming Doctor Who online, though those wishing to watch previous seasons of modern episodes will need to hop over to Max.