In the past, the BBC has been known to announce the new Doctor in a special show. Making a song and dance about the appointment of British TV’s most prized role has been par for the course.
But at the end of last night’s Newsnight programme, presenter Evan Davis teased audiences with a speculative piece about the possibility that the new Doctor will be a woman. And, specifically, portrayed by one of the favourite names that’s been bandied about, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
The story began with Davis smirking about the fact that Saturday’s Doctor Who Season 10 finale dropped heavy hints that that next Doctor could be a woman. What followed were some clips, the first showing John Simm’s Master asking: “Is the future going to be all girl?” and Peter Capaldi’s incumbent Doctor responding: “We can only hope.”
The next clip showed companion Bill Potts (in human form) speaking to the Doctor: “You know how I’m usually all about women and people my own age?” before finally showing the Doctor on his knees in the snow declaring: “I will not change.”
Davis then refers to “bookies’ favourite” Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her denial that she’s about to become the first female Doctor. He points out that Joanna Lumley has already played the Doctor for Comic Relief and so this statement is technically true.
He then references a recent interview Waller-Bridge gave for the Gold Derby Channel on YouTube before showing the clip which shows her asked directly whether she is the next Doctor. She laughs uncomfortably before saying: “I am not allowed to say anything about that one way or the other. It would be cool but… [I’m] doing other stuff.”
The clip finishes, with the Newsnight team having overlaid some regeneration effects over the clip.
If this is the BBC making a soft announcement, it’s highly unorthodox. But, conversely, it’s just the sort of thing an incoming showrunner – a certain Chris Chibnall who takes over from the departing Steven Moffat for the next series – might approve of.