Doctor Who Is About to Take its “Clearest Step into Black Mirror Territory”

So says Russell T Davies.

Callie Clarke in Doctor Who episode "Dot and Bubble"
Photo: BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/James Pardon

“We waited for the technology to catch up. And the technology has broken us.” So Russell T Davies told the latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine about series 14, episode five “Dot and Bubble”. Tech breaking people sounds fitting for an episode Davies describes as Doctor Who’s “clearest step into Black Mirror territory.” 

Set in a colony on an alien planet, “Dot and Bubble” is the story of Lindy Pepper Bean (Callie Cooke), a citizen of the happy, harmonious and social-media-absorbed world of Finetime. When Lindy’s friends start disappearing and mysterious monsters appear to be in operation, will Ruby and the Doctor be able to convince Finetime’s residents of the truth before it’s too late? 

The idea for the episode first came to Davies 15 years ago, he told DWM’s Benjamin Cook. During an LA lunch ahead of the series 11 launch, he pitched it to Steven Moffat, his successor in the showrunner role, but it was too expensive to achieve back in 2010. The episode’s VFX-heavy idea of “visible Twitter” as RTD described it, would have blasted through Doctor Who’s BBC budget.

“We didn’t go very far with the conversation because the idea was literally too expensive. But you wait 15 years and here with are. We waited for the technology to catch up. And the technology has broken us.” 

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Now, thanks to vastly more accessible VFX, and Disney dollars, the idea is back, written by Davies and directed by Dylan Holmes Williams (“73 Yards”).

Davies describes the episode as being one of the most fun you could imagine, while having a pessimism to it and “a real macabre feel”. It’s “Black Mirror-like” but “more Doctor Who” Davies told DWM. Expect freedom, madness, fun, monsters and a good old-fashioned scare. Sofa-cushions at the ready.

Doctor Who series 14 continues with “Dot and Bubble” on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+. The new Doctor Who Magazine is out now.