Today we got the biggest chunk of news regarding series ten since the new companion announcement. Matt Lucas is returning to the show full time after his appearance in last year’s Christmas special. Writers Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sarah Dollard are returning too with Mike Bartlett making his writing debut for the show.
In relation to the writers, I’m pleased Sarah Dollard is returning. She was one of the best writers in series ten as she penned Clara’s emotional and beautiful exit in Face the Raven. Hopefully she’s given a good story to work with and not a filler. She more than proved her ability to write deep and emotional scripts so if Moffat just assigned her to a basic alien vs Doctor story then it’d be a waste. I’m less keen on Cottrell-Boyce’s return to the show. His only effort so far was In the Forest of the Night and quite frankly, that was awful. It was a story that literally made no difference to the show’s overall storyline. If the Doctor wasn’t there then the same events would’ve taken place. I could see what he was trying to do, make us understand that the universe is clever and magnificent but he didn’t pull it off. Some writers do produce bad scripts but you can tell they understand the show, Cottrell-Boyce on the other hand doesn’t convince me he knows what it takes to produce a good script for Doctor Who. Cottrell-Boyce has been given the second episode of the series to write too which concerns me. The second episode is essential in a series. For the past two years, the Daleks have featured in the second episode so I would be especially concerned if he’d been trusted to write a Dalek story.
Matt Lucas’ return is entirely dependent on what sort of role he takes. In The Husbands of River Song we saw his character, Nardole, beheaded. I would like to see just the head return if I’m honest. Seeing him play a role similar to Handles and only appearing at the beginning and end of episodes in the TARDIS to provide some comic relief would be welcome. I think that sort of role would suit Lucas and the show perfectly. However, if he becomes a more pernament companion, like Rory and makes up a TARDIS team full time throughout stories, then I think his character might become a problem. Nardole worked well in a Christmas special, he was hilarious, but if we had him chipping in with witty one liners then the show would feel a lot more like a comedy than a dark science fiction drama. It’s unfair to judge the decision to cast Lucas until we see him in action full time, but I really do hope his role isn’t one that takes the focus away from the show’s direction.