We are now just seven days away from the night Doctor Who fans have been waiting on for sixteen months. The tenth season of the modern era will premiere next Saturday. Fans have already been let in on some of the the season’s secrets. We know the Daleks, Mondasian Cybermen, Ice Warriors and two, yes two incarnations of the Master are all going to feature. I’ve spoken to devout Doctor Who fans: Ian McArdell, Rob MacLeod and the Gallifrey Stands Podcast to see how they’re feeling about season ten.
To begin with, I asked them what they thought about the new TARDIS team.
Ian: Matt Lucas returning as Nardole came as a surprise, but I enjoyed him in “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, especially in his heartfelt final scene. I think he augurs well for the coming series – as well as the fact he offers something different from the regular Doctor/female companion pairing. As a companion, Nardole is actually quite different for the show, as it’s been a long time since the Doctor travelled with someone who didn’t come from a contemporary Earth background – way back to Jack Harkness in 2005… and that’s if Nardole is even human! I remember concerns about Catherine Tate appearing more than once and they were proven to be totally unfounded. That said, I look forward to starting again with Bill, as the companion’s journey of discovery is always the strongest way into the show for the viewer. My gut reaction is that she looks to be cast in a Rose-like role. She serves chips and might be a student, or at least works in a place of learning. If not a Rose, then perhaps there’s a touch of Leela about her – not that I’m suggesting she is a savage, but that the Doctor may be taking on someone to educate in the ways of the universe. Oddly, what I’m really looking forward to is Bill and Nardole’s interaction – a futuristic humanoid (or whatever he is) and a 21st century human. Now that really offers something we haven’t seen.
Rob: I’m not going to lie. Initially I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the news that Nardole was returning. His character, outside of a couple of funny lines, had not really interested me in “The Husbands of River Song”. I’m not a massive fan of comedy shows in the first place (I never really watched Little Britain at all) and I’ve never been a fan of comedy actors in Doctor Who. I think Peter Kay’s appearance scarred me for life. So Matt Lucas had a lot to prove to me, right from the start. With Pearl, it was more a case of not really having an opinion at all. I didn’t know her as an actress so when she was announced as the new companion I wasn’t in any way disappointed but nor was I jumping for joy. Basically it was a wait and see situation for me. That all said, I’m now going to go on record as saying I was being entirely too pessimistic. Admittedly this change of heart is based purely on the trailers and Matt’s appearance in The Return of Doctor Mysterio, but the new team look absolutely amazing together. Can’t put my finger on why yet but there is something both brand new and classic Who about them, and I for one can’t wait to see them in action.
Gallifrey Stands Podcast: I think it’s got great potential. Matt Lucas proved in the Christmas special that he can act the more serious scenes just as well as giving light relief where needed. I was impressed by how well the traditionally comedic actor Catherine Tate did. Also nice to have an alien companion back in the TARDIS. I feel like we haven’t seen enough of who Bill is yet, but that is fine. I like the clip with the Dalek they released to announce her. She seems to have a bright personality, which could be a great contrast to the darker Capaldi. And seeing as I’m guessing that they will for a lighter tone with the show with the next Doctor, I want a few nice darker moments with 12 whilst we have him.
Next, I asked the three if they had any ideas or hopes about potential story arcs for the upcoming season.
Ian: Arguably, Steven Moffat’s strongest story arc was his first, but in fact I’d love the show to revert back to a simpler format of discrete adventures or at least a lighter linking theme like the Torchwood or Mr Saxon mentions throughout the Russell T. Davies era. We could go without something too personal about the identity of the Doctor and we’ll stay away from Gallifrey & the Time Lords too.
Rob: Being a Moffat fan, I appreciate the way he writes with the bigger picture in mind. I’m expecting an awful lot of loose ends to be tied up in this season, perhaps even in ways we as fans don’t expect. Even though the BBC seems to be promoting this year as a brand new start, as fans we all know that this is really the end of an era. No one really expects either Nardole nor Bill to be travelling with the Doctor in 2018, so I daresay we should expect a little tragedy too, one way or another.
Gallifrey Stands Podcast: When the twelfth Doctor embarked on his first adventure, we heard, “I have lived 2000 years, not all of them good. It’s about time I did something about that”. I’d like to see this explored in season ten. Maybe go to scenes of previous adventures to put things right he maybe got wrong and to get closure on things left open by adventures of previous incarnations.
I then asked them what they thought about all of the characters and villains who would be returning this year.
Ian: I’m thrilled to see the return of the cloth-faced Mondasian Cybermen, and I hope it is much more than just a cameo appearance. As for the Daleks, they’re usually good value and have that iconic appeal but I think the return of Davros neutered them a little last year and we could really do with a diabolical scheme again to show, rather than tell us how clever they are. As for Missy, it will be interesting to see her interact with new companions and it is understandable that she is back for Capaldi’s final run. Might it be her final hurrah too? She seems so well matched to the Twelfth Doctor that I can’t imagine her going any further. Of all the pre-series announcements, John Simm’s return has probably been the biggest surprise for me. I suppose it is one of the things that the series has never done, if we are due a multi-Master story (such things have been the preserve of Big Finish). I enjoyed Simm’s take on the Master and it will be interesting to see the contrast between his mania and Michelle Gomez’s “Scary Poppins” version. Of course, the cynic in me also wonders if Steven Moffat cannot resist another little continuity tidy-up (let’s face it, he has form). We never saw a regeneration from Master into Missy, so might we be seeing that moment on screen? In fact, here’s a little prediction: Missy will be responsible for initiating her predecessor’s downfall and engineering her own arrival. How’s that for timey-wimey?
Rob: As this is going to be Capaldi’s big goodbye series, I’d have been disappointed if these three enemies hadn’t made an appearance at some point. The Daleks are a given,no matter what, but I was very happy to see the Cybermen getting another chance to take on the twelfth Doctor. “Death In Heaven” will always be one of the weaker episodes of the Capaldi era for me, so it would have been a shame for that to have been the only time Twelve took them on, with them being nothing more than Missy’s puppets. The fact that we’re getting the Mondasian Cybermen too is just icing on the cake. I’m really looking forward to this seeing John Simm again too. I’m hoping that it will not only bridge the gap between the Master and Missy once and for all, but also explain how the Master got away from Gallifrey in the first place, as well as if it had anything at all to do with the twelfth Doctor showing up in “The Day of the Doctor”. My theory? For some reason the Twelfth Doctor needs the pre-Missy Master this series and, remembering the events of “The Day of the Doctor”, travels to Gallifrey and steals him away just before the planet’s demise. Maybe this will even result in the Master’s regeneration, creating yet another Moffat timey-wimey paradox for the fandom to obsess over for years to come. Time will tell.
Gallifrey Stands Podcast: Well, I’m very excited about the Mondasian Cybermen. From the filming pictures I’ve seen, all the different Cybermen interact, just like when we had all the types of Dalek meet in season nine. Missy is someone whom I have always enjoyed and can’t imagine not doing so again. Maybe focussing on her darkness rather than her over the top flare would help her. I’m obviously stoked about the potential of a multi-Master story. Big Finish attempted one and it was great. In terms of the Daleks, well that’s always down to the writing. They are the Doctors oldest foes & as such it’s hard to write something new for them to do. If you succeed your a hero, if you write a bad Dalek episode it can make them feel almost obsolete.
Finally I asked how they felt the season would go based on the fact it will be Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi’s last.
Ian: Plenty of old monsters should lend a celebratory air to the season, which is a good thing – I just hope any new Doctor casting news can be kept until the end of the run. Lest we suffer what I like to call the malaise of ‘Dead Doctor Walking’. As fans, we are always obsessed with what’s next and it would be a shame to wish away a wonderful Doctor. I hope the series celebrates Capaldi’s time in the role, it feels like we’ve only really just got a handle on him after the uneven, questioning motif of season eight and the injection of rock star personality in season nine. I would like to see some swagger from the Doctor and some proper heroics. On the Moffat front, I hope there’s some genuine invention in terms of threat, and a move away from blink-of-the-eye style monsters. Let’s hope Bill provides the impetus for a whole new, enthusiastic and more youthful take on the show for his final run. I was thrilled to see a purpose shot trailer, we haven’t had one of those for a while, but it does seem odd to be styling S10 as a relaunch, when we all know there is a further relaunch just around the corner. Let’s hope there isn’t another long gap between seasons ten and eleven.
Rob: I absolutely loved what we’ve seen so far in the trailers. Thankfully, the BBC definitely seem to have learned their lesson after the mess they made promoting the series last time around. No more “same old, same old” ambivalence. This time they made sure they were going to get people excited for the return of the greatest show on televison, and it really seems to have worked. Lots of talk, lots of advertising and many an article being written talking about what little we already know. That is exactly what Doctor Who deserves, and I hope to see more, in fact MUCH more, of the same come the 2018 relaunch. Good times ahead.
Gallifrey Stands Podcast: Darker stories whilst we have a Doctor to suit them are a must. I think Moffat had done really well with ongoing story lines, such as Gallifrey returning and the crack in the wall, so one last one of those that maybe sets up the regeneration would be nice. Capaldi and Moffat should have the mindset, “What have we not done yet? This is our last chance to do it. We have one more shot of producing and starring, we may as well go for it!” There will always be critics so I just hope they enjoy themselves and hopefully that will come across on screen.
Thanks to Ian, Rob and the Gallifrey Stands Podcast for all their time and effort they put into giving such detailed and passionate responses. If you liked what they had to say, their details are below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on season ten too, so leave them in the comments section.
You can follow Ian on Twitter @IanMcArdell and check out some of his work on CultBox.
You can follow Rob on Twitter @The_27th_Doctor
Follow Gallifrey Stands Podcast on Twitter @DoctorSquee and check out the podcast by following this link: http://www.gallifreystandspodcast.com/