Doctor Who Boss Calls Controversial Canon Change “the Spine of the Whole Show”

The Doctor and Ruby’s mysterious origins will loom large in series 14, says Russell T Davies.

The Doctor and Ruby in Doctor Who Series 14
Photo: James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC

When Russell T Davies goes to bat for something, everybody had better duck because that man does not mess about.

Ever since RTD returned to the show’s top job, he’s stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his predecessor Chris Chibnall and waved away calls from fans to either ignore or rewrite Chibnall’s biggest change to Doctor Who lore: the Timeless Child revelation. Now, Davies is saying that not only will the new series work with the Timeless Child concept, it’s the backbone of the new story.

Davies is summarised in Entertainment Weekly as saying that much of companion Ruby Sunday’s arc was inspired by the Timeless Child plot point. In series 14, both Ruby and the Doctor will be curious about their origins and their similar histories as foundlings will loom large. “That story’s going to be the spine of the whole show,” Davies told EW.

As a refresher, the Timeless Child plot involved the Doctor discovering that she wasn’t a native of Gallifrey, but an adoptee brought to the planet by an explorer and scientist named Tecteun, who discovered the Doctor’s regenerative powers. After a series of experiments, Tecteun extracted the regeneration ability, did some DNA splicing and created the Time Lords as we know them. The Doctor was forced to act as a Time Lord agent for several lifetimes, before their memories were repressed and they escaped, only for the Master to uncover the info and use it to torment them in series 12 finale “The Timeless Children”.

Ad – content continues below

In 2023 Christmas special “The Church on Ruby Road”, the Doctor met Ruby Sunday after she was targeted by coincidence-seeking space goblins. A foundling who’d been abandoned by her mother outside a church as a baby, Ruby started the episode with a public appeal to find her birth parents. She and the Doctor bonded over their shared background as adoptees, and in the new series, it looks like they’ll be on a joint search for their origins.

Davies also confirmed that Millie Gibson’s character will still be central to the show, even after new companion Varada Sethu has joined Doctor Who: “We’re heading into season 2 and my God, Ruby Sunday is important to that,” he told EW. “There’s good stuff to come.”

So, to any fans hoping that RTD would rewrite Chibnall’s rewrite of the Doctor’s past, the answer’s still a hearty ‘no’. He’s keeping it, he’s building on it, he’s made it the spine of the whole show. Next!

Doctor Who series 14 streams on BBC iPlayer on Saturday May 11 in the UK and on Disney+ on Friday May 10 around the world.