It’s 2023, which can only mean one thing – we’re in the year of the new season of Doctor Who with a brand new Doctor and a brand new companion! We’re also starting to find out about more and more new characters and cast members joining the Whoniverse as the days pass – so there’s lots to catch up on here!
Doctor Who is also turning 60 in 2023, and the show is celebrating its 60th anniversary in style with three one-hour specials and the return of David Tennant in the lead role, this time playing the Fourteenth Doctor. He will be joined by Catherine Tate reprising her role as Donna Noble and together they will do battle against an enemy portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris. We’re also going to see the introduction of Yasmin Finney as Rose and Ruth Madeley as Shirley Ann Bingham. There will also be a return for Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble and Karl Collins as Shaun Temple – and that Beep the Meep will be moving from comic strip to live action as one of the monsters.
Yep, it’s all very exciting. There’s an epic audio series coming that will unite seven former Doctors and we’re expecting to see a whole lot of other surprises before we arrive in November 2023 too, including the rumour of new and returning cast members and exciting storylines. We’ve even heard that recently Billie Piper has been “flirting with the idea” of a few days on the Doctor Who set and that Hollywood star Whoopi Goldberg wants to find time to play the Doctor’s cousin on the show!
With all this going on, not to mention the return of Russell T Davies, the man who rebooted the show in 2005 for a new ear, it’s easy to forget that Jodie Whittaker has left, and there is a whole new era of Doctor Who about to begin.
Ncuti Gatwa, the Sex Education star best known for playing Eric Effiong in the streaming giant’s high school series, was announced as the new Doctor earlier in 2022 and we’ve seen a very tiny glimpse of him in the teaser reel the BBC released for Doctor Who in 2023 which followed the revelations of The Power of the Doctor. But what more do we know about the new era of Doctor Who that we’re calling Season 14, the first that will see the “shared creative vision” of the BBC and Disney combine on the Corporation’s flagship science fiction show…
Doctor Who season 14 release date speculation
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After the 60th anniversary specials in November 2023, the first episode that will have Ncuti Gatwa at the helm of the TARDIS has been announced for the festive period following the specials.
This we now know will be a festive special – and there will be a Christmas special again in 2024 because Russell T Davies has been writing it.
What we don’t know is if the 2023 episode will be on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. It’s likely it will be one of the two. Doctor Who has had Christmas Day and New Year’s Day specials during the post-2005 era and this episode could therefore be on New Years’ Day 2024 and not fall into 2023 at all.
The rest of season 14 of Doctor Who will be aired in 2024 and will consist of eight episodes in total, which is a little shorter than previous seasons.
Filming has begun
What we do know is that filming has officially now begun on season 14 of Doctor Who.
The BBC announced on social media on Monday 5th of December 2022 that filming had begun that day, and posted a picture of the TARDIS with a clapperboard confirming the name of the director for the episode and showing the new Doctor Who logo.
The director of the first episode according to the tweet is Dylan Holmes Williams.
Ncuti Gatwa has also shared some images of himself on set, including a small amount of behind-the-scenes video and we’ve seen a little more of Millie Gibson’s new life in Cardiff, which she is currently calling home while the filming of season 14 goes on.
There has also been reports of filming in Bristol in the middle of January – with several outlets showing photos of Millie Gibson filming outside in the streets of Bristol as Ruby Sunday.
We know how many episodes there will be
Russell T Davies has confirmed that there will be eight episodes in season 14 of Doctor Who. This is fewer than there were in the previous seasons, although he promises fans that there are big plans for the show and it takes a bit of time to build an empire.
“OK, that’s fewer episodes than the last full season. But give us time. We have plans, and that’s a promise!” said Davies.
He has also sought to reassure fans that there would be fewer gaps in new content going forward promising “no gap years, lots of content” going forward.
Who is in the cast for Doctor Who season 14?
At present, there are several confirmed cast members for Doctor Who season 14. These are the two main stars of the series, the Doctor and his companion, as well as one fan favourite from UNIT and a new “mysterious” character. There have also been several other characters cast, although we have not been told their character names yet.
- Ncuti Gatwa plays The Doctor (The Fifteenth Doctor)
- Millie Gibson plays Ruby Sunday
- Jemma Redgrave plays Kate Lethbridge-Stewart
- Aneurin Barnard plays Roger ap Gwilliam
- Anita Dobson as an unnamed character
- Michelle Greenidge as an unnamed character
Although Millie Gibson has now been announced as a companion to Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor, it is as yet unclear if she will be the only companion to travel with the Doctor in season 14. There could well be further companion announcements closer to the transmission of the show, or companions could join the series once it has begun, as has happened in the past.
Writing on the official Doctor Who website in May, Ncuti Gatwa said of his casting as the Doctor: “There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care.
“I will endeavour my upmost to do the same. Russell T Davies is almost as iconic as the Doctor himself and being able to work with him is a dream come true. His writing is dynamic, exciting, incredibly intelligent and fizzing with danger.”
Incoming showrunner, Russell T Davies added: “The future is here and it’s Ncuti! Sometimes talent walks through the door and it’s so bright and bold and brilliant, I just stand back in awe and thank my lucky stars. Ncuti dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those Tardis keys in seconds. It’s an honour to work with him, and a hoot, I can’t wait to get started.”
We also know that former Coronation Street actor Millie Gibson will play a character called Ruby Sunday who will travel with the Fifteenth Doctor. She apparently found out she’d been cast for the role after getting a spray tan.
Speaking of her new role after being unveiled as Ruby Sunday live on BBC Children in Need in November 2022, Millie Gibson said: “Whilst still being in total disbelief, I am beyond honoured to be cast as the Doctor’s companion. It is a gift of a role, and a dream come true, and I will do everything to try and fill the boots the fellow companions have travelled in before me. And what better way to do that than being by the fabulous Ncuti Gatwa’s side, I just can’t wait to get started.”
Ncuti Gatwa added: “Millie just is the companion. She is full of talent, strength, she has a cheeky sparkle in her eye and is sharp as a razor. From the moment she walked into the room she captured all of our attention with her effervescence and then solidified that attention with the sheer torque of her talent. This adventure is going to be so wild and so fun, I cannot WAIT to sail the universe with Millie!”
He added more recently in an interview that he knew she was the right companion from the moment that he saw her audition, and he told Russell T Davies.
Russell T Davies, said at the time Millie was announced: “It’s the great honour of my job to find the next generation of talent, and Millie shines like a star already. She’s brilliant, dynamic, clever and a wonderful actor. As a Coronation Street fan, I’ve seen Millie survive chases, guns and sieges, but that’s nothing compared to what lies ahead for Ruby Sunday.”
We also recently learned a little more about the casting of Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor. Apparently there were a number of people auditioned for the role and they included, men, women and a non-binary actor. We also learned that Ncuti Gatwa watched the performances of the Tenth Doctor played by David Tennant when he was preparing for his Doctor Who audition.
Other characters confirmed for season 14
On the 9th of January 2022, the BBC confirmed that Jemma Redgrave would be returning to the series for season 14 as the head of UNIT, the special forces operation that has been battling to keep Earth safe from alien forces for a long time in Doctor Who. A fan favourite, this will be great news for fans, who have been speculating for some time about the return of UNIT to the series after an eagle-eyed fan spotted a UNIT helipad set on the outside lot of Bad Wolf Studios in Cardiff on Google Earth. There is no further detail on what part UNIT will play in the series, but many fans have spotted UNIT soldiers in outside filming in Cardiff since season 14 shooting began in December 2022.
The other character confirmed by the BBC in January was Roger ap Gwilliam, who is played by Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard. Fans had already spotted his image on political posters in Cardiff around the shoot before Christmas, but the character and actor has now been confirmed.
There is no detail on the character, who appears to be a politician for the Albion Party, beyond the one-word “mysterious” description from the BBC, but if you want to know more (and specualte more) about who is Roger ap Gwilliam, we have written a little more about it.
On January 20th 2023, the BBC confirmed two new actors would be joining season 14. The EastEnders legend Anita Dobson has been cast in the series in an unnamed role and After Life and It’s A Sin actor Michelle Greening will also be joining the series, and at this stage we also have no further details on her character.
What are Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gbson’s costumes?
We now know what the costumes for both Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth and Millie Gibson’s Ruby Sunday will look like. You can see them, and the retro references to Doctor Who from the past here. And as Screen OD exclusively reported, there has been a spike in fashion interest in similar clothes to that worn by the Doctor Who stars since the costumes for season 14 were revealed.
What do we know about Fifteen and Ruby Sunday?
We don’t have a great deal of character detail so far on the two leads for the series, although we have learned a little about the pair and their relationship through an interview with Millie Gibson.
Speaking about Ncuti’s Fifteenth character she said: “He’s got such an infectious energy and personality,”
“He’s got such an infectious energy and personality,” Millie Gibson told Doctor Who Magazine when asked about the Fifteenth Doctor character.
She added: “I think that’s what Ruby bounces off as well. Their dynamic is… childlike in some ways. Like two schoolgirls gossiping in the corner. It’s that sort of friendship.”
While commenting on Ruby Sunday, she hinted that there was a clue in her recent much-reported haircut as to what to expect from the character.
“I’d say the hair cut is important,” teases Millie in an interview with Doctor Who magazine.
She adds: “I think Ruby’s a bit punky, a bit spiky. Jane [Tranter], the executive producer, really described it well to me – she said: ‘Ruby’s one of those girls that will go to a charity shop and pick the best item off the rack.’”
We’ve also learned about the coded conversations that went on ahead of the reveal of Millie Gibson as a companion.
“There was a lot of secret planning, a variety of coats over my head and coded conversations,” admitted Millie when talking about the Children in Need reveal in 2022.
Meanwhile, Millie’s former boss from Coronation Street has said he believes she’s “destined for really big things” which is great news for Doctor Who fans looking forward to her starting her role.
Another new cast member is being introduced for the 60th-anniversary specials, Rose, played by Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney. Although at this stage it appears that Rose is only part of the 60th episodes, it is possible that she may also be part of season 14.
It seems safe to assume that the roles played by David Tennant, Catherine Tate and Neil Patrick Harris in the 60th specials will only be for those three episodes and they won’t be taking part in the regular season 14 episodes once the show gets underway with Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson.
How can I watch season 14 of Doctor Who?
The BBC announced in 2022 that they have struck a new deal with Disney around Doctor Who which means that international fans of the show will see a change to the way they watch Doctor Who in the future.
In the UK, Doctor Who will still premiere on the BBC and on BBC iPlayer, however outside of the UK in all international markets including the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Doctor Who will be exclusively premiering on the Disney+ streaming service.
In addition to new episodes of Doctor Who being on Disney+, the service will also be carrying an archive of old episodes for fans.
What will Disney’s involvement mean for Doctor Who season 14?
The BBC and Disney talk of “a shared creative vision” which will allow them to “deliver this quintessentially British show to future generations on an unprecedented scale”
The joint statement issued at the time of the deal on October 25th 2022 said: “Both partners have aligned under returning showrunner Russell T Davies’ bold vision, who takes control of the TARDIS in 2023.”
Speaking of the deal at the time, Russell T Davies said: “I love this show, and this is the best of both worlds – with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney+ together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the UK.”
Charlotte Moore, BBC’s Chief Content Officer said: “We are thrilled to announce this exciting global partnership with Disney who are the perfect partners to bring this very British show to the rest of the world. Russell T Davies’ vision for Doctor Who has always been out of this world and we are committed to ensuring that audiences across the globe get the opportunity to enjoy the Doctor’s epic adventures with the scale and ambition that they deserve. Joining forces with Disney will elevate the show to even greater heights and reach new audiences so it’s an extremely exciting time for fans in the UK and across the world.”
Alisa Bowen, President, Disney+ said: “We’re excited by the opportunity to bring new seasons of this beloved franchise exclusively to Disney+ and introduce the show to the next generation of audiences in more than 150 markets around the world. The series is a perfect addition to our ever-growing catalog of global content that continues to make Disney+ the home for exceptional storytelling.”
Since the announcement, there have been reports recently that the Disney deal could see a huge cash injection for the show that may mean the per-episode budgets are increased, perhaps as much as three times what they were before. Additionally, many have speculated, including us here at Screen OD, that the reach of Disney+ and the extra resources that may be available could allow the show to spin off into new shows and ideas as it has in the past with Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. If you like that idea, you should read some of the ideas fans favour for new spinoffs.
There continues to be speculation about spin-offs with reports suggesting that there are plans being considered for series that focus on The Daleks and the Cybermen as well as other characters from the show that would create a more Marvel-like Universe for Doctor Who to explore.
In January 2022, more details about the Disney deal were discussed, with Russell T Davies and the executive producers of the show addressing some fan concerns and setting some of the reports straight in an interview with Doctor Who Magazine.
The producers said that the “Britishness” of Doctor Who was not under threat as part of the deal with Disney and that it was quite normal to see American investment in UK shows in the modern era. Russell T Davies also said that although the budgets were increasing, the reports of £10m per episode were “exaggerated.“
However, we know there is a new logo for Doctor Who in its 60th year, and the showrunner has said it’s staying.
We’ll have to wait and see what the Disney partnership means long term for the show, but right now it seems like exciting times.
What is going to happen in season 14?
That is very hard to say right now, as we don’t know what’s going to happen in the 60th anniversary specials.
We know that there is going to have to be some explanation as to why the Doctor regenerated into David Tennant’s Fourteenth from Jodie Whittaker’s Fifteenth (some good theories here) and that Rose and Donna Noble are probably going to be key to sorting out the mess with Neil Patrick Harris’s character too.
It will probably depend how all that is resolved what the starting point will be for Ncuti Gatwa’s character.
From the spilt second we’ve seen of him so far in character at the end of the BBC 2023 teaser (included in the video above) it seems like he’s pretty confused, so we may have a lot of mess to unravel in season 14.
Recently Ncuti Gatwa said that the show was going to be “elevated to another level” so that’s pretty encouraging!
We’ve also heard a little bit about where Ncuti would like to travel in the TARDIS and who he would like to battle, and Millie has also revealed where she’d like to travel.
“I would love to battle the Beast” said Gatwa in the video, referring to the monster that David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor took on in two 2006 episodes during his tenure, The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit.
Gatwa said he would love to take the monster on because it is “the ultimate villain that is the devil” and “you don’t get much more evil than that.”
Is there a trailer for season 14?
Not at the moment, no.
The only video we have right now is the BBC 2023 teaser for Doctor Who which aired after The Power of the Doctor in November 2023 and the longer trailer for the Doctor Who 60th-anniversary celebrations.
It’s unlikely we’ll see a trailer for season 14 anytime soon, perhaps not until after the November 2023 special episodes.