This Doctor Who article contains spoilers.
After a weekend of speculation and reports (some of which were spread in bad faith) regarding her casting, we now have our first look at rumored series 15 companion Varada Sethu on the set of Doctor Who. In photos taken at Penarth Pier in South Wales, we can see a gussied up Sethu in a dazzling vintage yellow dress alongside Ncuti Gatwa’s always stylish Doctor in a powder blue suit and rocking a new hairdo, as they flee the chaos unfolding on what looks like a 1950s American street. (The Doctor’s even brought the bowtie back. Perhaps he thinks they’re cool again?)
The leaked photos that made their way onto Twitter also show the Doctor and Sethu’s as of yet unnamed character hanging out in front of an old movie house, the fictional “Palazzo,” which is showing a film starring real-life 1950s Hollywood star Rock Hudson. Curiously, the theater is playing a movie called “The Harvest Bringer,” which isn’t a real film that Hudson made. Something timey wimey may be afoot! Either way, it seems like the episode wants to evoke the Golden Age of Hollywood with this set.
Regarding where exactly this series 15 episode takes place, one reliable Doctor Who filming watchdog handle alleges these particular scenes are set in 1950s Miami, and the production certainly sets the right mood with those classic cars parked around the street and the American flag flying next to the theater. A big, bright arrow-shaped sign not far from where the Doctor parked his TARDIS promises “donuts” if you walk in the right direction. Yum.
Scenes were shot both during the daytime and at night, with one video showing a moment when the Doctor and Sethu’s character are happily strolling down a rain-soaked street under the streetlights. It’s giving Singin’ in the Rain, but we’ll let you know if we catch our central duo break into song and dance as Gatwa and Millie Gibson’s Ruby Sunday did in last year’s Christmas special.
Another video shows the duo stepping into the TARDIS:
The BBC has yet to officially confirm that Sethu is stepping into the TARDIS as the new companion for series 15. It’s also unclear what this would mean for Gibson’s future on the series. While she reportedly did film scenes for series 15 late last year, Gibson also hinted in a recent interview that she had completed her time on Doctor Who and that she would begin auditioning for new roles in 2024.
“I think, now that the strike’s over, probably auditioning again, for parts, and seeing what’s out there,” Gibson told Fabric magazine. “Every year has seen such change for me, it’s hard to think what might come next. I’d like to play a villain… If not that I think I’m really intrigued by biopic roles that you really need to research. I think that would be a great challenge. I don’t know, I think I’m just excited to see what’s to come.”
Time will tell when we’ll be saying goodbye to Ruby Sunday and welcoming a new companion to the show. What we do know is that the mystery surrounding Ruby’s origin will be the focus of series 14, which also has a few other questions to answer. What the heck is going on with Anita Dobson’s Mrs. Flood? And who is in possession of the gold tooth containing the Master? With any luck, Russell T Davies won’t keep us waiting for the answers for too much longer.
Doctor Who series 14 is out in May on the BBC in the UK and Disney+ everywhere else. Series 15 is currently slated for 2025.