Have you all recovered from the news? Neither has BlogtorWho! But it’s true. Russell T Davies is returning to Doctor Who. On television. However it doesn’t look like a simple return to an old format. Instead, this feels like the start of something completely unprecedented!
Back in January, when the prospect of Russell T Davies returning to Doctor Who was seemingly as unlikely as Leicester City winning the Premier League (look it up non-football fans), the returning showrunner made some interesting comments. Whilst promoting critically acclaimed drama It’s a Sin, Davies reflected on his own mini-empire of Doctor Who, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Now due to streaming and subscription based platforms, this universe of spinoff shows is a model which has been taken up by other leading global entertainment brands.
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
The Marvel and Star Wars universes have been expanded on Disney+ with shows like WandaVision, Loki and The Mandalorian. With the announcement that production company Bad Wolf will be partnering with BBC Studios “to celebrate the 60th Anniversary in 2023 and series beyond”, could the goal be to create an expansive universe of shows to run parallel with the main show on BBCOne? This is not as preposterous an idea as it may initially sound. We recently had a brand new animated Dalek series within the Time Lord Victorious narrative. It is also a format currently being delivered with great success by Big Finish Productions and offers something for everyone.
Big Finish recently adjusted their pack of playing cards, ending the Monthly Adventures range in order to deliver incarnation specific ‘Doctor Adventures’. Other popular spinoff ranges have included Dalek Empire, I Davros and Gallifrey. Even characters from the modern era of Doctor Who, such as Jenny, Missy and Rory Williams have received their own releases. It’s a format that clearly works so why not transfer it to television? Perhaps through BritBox or a subscription based BBCiPlayer service?
Now I’ve convinced you that it could happen, let’s wildly speculate about what could be on the drawing board!
Torchwood: The New Breed
An obvious suggestion would be to relaunch Torchwood. Russell T Davies constructed the show as a more adult version of Doctor Who and it proved popular with that audience. This could be an opportunity to relaunch the show with Gwen Cooper as the boss adding a new twist on the original setup. It would be another bold statement to have another programme with a strong female lead following Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. Eve Myles has recently led the successful Keeping Faith and features in We Hunt Together so it may be tough tempting her back to the role. But if anyone can I’m sure Russell T Davies could.
With Bad Wolf Studios based in Cardiff a show set in the Welsh capital seems like a no brainer. So why not Torchwood again?
The Rani Chandra Adventures
Sadly unlike Torchwood the possibility of relaunching the other spinoff penned by Davies, The Sarah Jane Adventures, is basically nil. Nobody would dare recast the role which Elisabeth Sladen made so iconic. But now the Bannerman Road gang has grown up a little why not relaunch the series with one of the original characters? This show would also attract the youngsters who enjoyed The Sarah Jane Adventures originally who have now also grown up. Rani was a character who had similarities with Sarah Jane Smith; an inquisitive and very capable young woman with an interest in journalism. Anjli Mohindra‘s stock has been on the rise significantly recently with appearances in prominent BBC dramas Bodyguard and Vigil as well as the Doctor Who story Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror.
Mohindra is a star in the making so probably a good idea to catch her while we can before she does a Karen Gillan and goes to America to make movies!
The Eighth Doctor Adventures
This seems the most likely possibility regarding returning incarnations of the pre-2005 era. It would also be hugely popular. Since the TV Movie in 1996 fans have been kept waiting for a television series with the Eighth Doctor. Big Finish have continued the stories for that incarnation, pairing him with Sheridan Smith’s Lucie Miller and launching him into the Time War, plus many more. Paul McGann has gone on to play other doctors on television including John Gaskell in Holby City and Dr Jake Strathearn in Annika.
Surely now is the time for him to play that other famous doctor again on screen?
Now this is another spinoff series which has also been delivered by Big Finish. But if an Earth based show about a plucky group of individuals defending the planet from alien invasion no longer fits Torchwood then how about UNIT? Jemma Redgrave and Ingrid Oliver have been a great combination both on screen and on audio. So why not make some more? Plus this could be another series with not one but two female leads!
The Nyssa Adventures
When Russell T Davies himself was discussing the possibility of spinoffs The Nyssa Adventures was mentioned. Why not? I’m sure Sarah Sutton would be interested. Doesn’t have to be Nyssa though. What about an educational Maths show with Adric? Let’s bring back Kamelion! The possibilities are endless.