Doctor Who series 10: where now for the show?

Loose threads, speculation, and a fan's wishlist: some thoughts on where Doctor Who series 10 may take us...

This article contains spoilers for Doctor Who series 9.

Series 9 of Doctor Who (or Season 35, if you’re our favourite kind of pedant) may still be warm in the ground, but fans being fans we’re inevitably already wondering what’s next. We’ve got a festive trifle at Christmas, of course, with The Husbands Of River Song reuniting the Doctor with everyone’s second-favourite Whoniverse archaeologist, but what then? Here’s some of the possible directions we think Series 10 may take…

A New Companion

This one’s not so much speculation as fact; the Doctor will be joined by a new companion when the tenth series begins sometime next year.

Steven Moffat has been discussing how bringing a new companion in reboots the show to an extent, saying that he’s looking to create a new dynamic in the TARDIS. He’s already seemingly confirmed that he’s looking for a woman to fill the role, but hasn’t ruled out a second, male companion a la the glory days of Jamie and Zoe, Harry and Sarah or even Amy and Rory.

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Depending on how far Moffat wants to take the ‘new dynamic’ idea, we’d be thrilled to see the Doctor pick up someone who isn’t from 21st century Earth. Whilst talking cabbages or a shapeshifting penguin would probably be a bit much for the casual audience, companions from other times have worked wonderfully in the past – the aforementioned Jamie and Zoe, for instance, were from 18th century Scotland and a more space-age version of the 21st century respectively.

Clara has reminded us that we don’t need to spend time with a companion’s family to relate to them as a character, so why not use the fish-out-of-water dynamic to put a new twist on things?

Clara and Me

Clara’s departure ultimately made for the most open-ended exit since Martha Jones in 2007. She’s now rattling around the space-time vortex in her own stolen TARDIS (or is it Ashildr’s?), fitting adventures between her final heartbeats in a way that would make even Big Finish blush.

Whilst it would greatly undermine the Doctor’s memory wipe for her to reappear (in the same way that Donna’s return in The End Of Time arguably undermined hers), there’s a feeling that Clara’s story just isn’t done yet. Plus there’s the popularity of Maisie Williams’ character to take into account.

Might we see a Doctor-light story featuring Clara and Ashildr battling one of the Doctor’s enemies? Or, even better, a story in which Clara and Ashildr help the Doctor without him ever knowing they were there? With Clara having been the longest-running companion since 2005, it feels like next year would be too soon to bring her back, and we’re sure Jenna Coleman won’t be short of work. But we also wouldn’t be surprised if, somewhere in Steven Moffat’s cunning mind, the cogs are whirring…

Hassle From Rassilon

Speaking of things left dangling from the finale, the issue of Gallifrey still looms large. The Doctor would now appear to be its president, though it wouldn’t be the first time he’s shirked those particular duties. Certainly now that the Doctor knows how to find his home planet we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s keeping half an eye on them at all times to make sure they don’t get the universe into any more trouble.

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But more importantly than that, Hell Bent saw the Doctor exile Rassilon at the end of the universe where, as the General points out, he has nowhere to go. Rassilon hardly seems like the type to go quietly into the night, and Donald Sumpter is too good an actor not to be brought back to menace the universe. It seems likely that Rassilon will make a reappearance in some form. Which brings us to our next point…

The Minister Of War

Mentioned in a throwaway comment by O’Donnell in Before The Flood, the Minister of War cast his or her shadow over most of the fan theories this series, with many fans assuming that Ashildr would turn out to hold the position. Now we know that this isn’t true or something the series is tackling immediately, we’re left to wonder whether this will be picked up on next year – the Doctor made a point of questioning O’Donnell about it, so it seems unlikely this was just in there to add a bit of colour.

Could Rassilon, having been exiled from his own world, decide to get his revenge on the Doctor by trying to ruin his precious Earth? Or could another of the Doctor’s long-standing foes be to blame? With the Time Lords back on the board, perhaps the Minister could be the Meddling Monk, once again trying to pervert the course of human history for his own ends…

Sleep Some More

Mark Gatiss’s found footage tale Sleep No More was a very rare Doctor Who story in that the Doctor seemingly didn’t win. As such, Moffat and Gatiss have already publicly discussed the idea that the story needs closure and, as such, is likely to get a sequel.

However, the tale of walking sleep monsters proved divisive among fans and the wider audience alike – its audience appreciation score was the lowest for any episode since 2006’s Love And Monsters – so will the production team be thinking twice before gambling on a follow-up?

Return To Coal Hill

Next year sees the launch of the first Doctor Who spinoff since The Sarah Jane Adventures ended in 2011: Patrick Ness’s Class.

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Airing on BBC Three, the drama sees the pupils of Coal Hill School facing off against aliens and monsters – and that’s about all we know at the moment. So will the school’s former caretaker be returning to Coal Hill in Doctor Who series 10 in order to lay some of the groundwork for the new show? After all, Sarah Jane and Torchwood both built themselves around the popularity of characters who had already appeared in the parent show. Speaking of which…

Bring Back Jack

Perhaps we’re getting into pipe dream territory now, but it’s been ten years since Steven Moffat introduced Jack Harkness in The Empty Child, and it’s fair to say that the character left a lasting impression; the mere mention of his name in The Woman Who Lived was enough to elicit a hearty chuckle.

In many ways the twelfth Doctor is a perfect match for Jack, and to see them sparring on screen would be marvellous. John Barrowman’s currently occupied over on Arrow, but he’s also the person campaigning the loudest for Jack to cross paths with the Doctor again, so we suspect if Moffat wanted him for a couple of episodes then he’d find a way to make it work…

Revamped Villains

This is always something you should do sparingly, of course, as Doctor Who is at its best when it’s looking to the future as well as the past, but in the last few years we’ve had successful returns for both the Zygons and the Ice Warriors from the classic series. And as our article last week showed, there’s no shortage of wonderful villains from the show’s history waiting to be revived for a modern audience. Certainly we’d be lying if we said the idea of Peter Capaldi going head-to-head with the likes of Sutekh or the Celestial Toymaker didn’t make the hairs on our neck stand on end.

The Long Goodbye

It doesn’t feel right to be talking about Peter Capaldi’s exit (not that one – grow up), particularly after the tour de force we’ve had from him over the last month or so in particular, but the reality is that Series 10 will be his third year in the role and, while there’s been nothing official said, three series and change seems to be the standard tenure for a Time Lord nowadays – and Peter Capaldi is on record as saying his departure is likely to be sooner rather than later.

And if that’s the case, it stands to reason that a memorable Doctor like his is likely to get an equally memorable exit. We could well see the groundwork being laid for this over the course of Series 10, though whether he’s going to bow out at the end of it is anyone’s guess.

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None Of The Above

We love to speculate; we’re fans, it’s what we do. But one of the most exciting things about the recent series, as we noted in our reviews, is that it hasn’t always taken the easy path, and it certainly hasn’t always taken the obvious one. Provided you’ve stayed away from the synopses put out by the BBC Press Office, series 9 has taken some wonderful twists and turns, and all of the popular fan theories about the Hybrid, about the fate of Clara, were proved to be wrong in a final threesome of episodes that subverted all of our expectations.

So for all our fannish hopes and wishes, the one thing we really want Steven Moffat and co to do is more of the same. Keep surprising us. Keep us on our toes. And keep making us believe that we’re living in a golden age for our favourite TV programme. 

Doctor Who returns at Christmas.