Russell T Davies Teases Doctor Who’s “New Tradition” of Warring Gods

Get ready for deities.

Jinkx Monsoon in Doctor Who
Photo: BBC STUDIOS 2023

We’ve had goblins on Doctor Who, now it’s time for gods.

Drumming up excitement for the new season in the latest edition of Doctor Who Magazine, showrunner Russell T Davies is promising anarchy. In a preview of episode two “The Devil’s Chord,” Davies teases the wild, raw, tumbling, free-falling energy that comes from introducing “a godlike element into Doctor Who”.

That godlike element? It’s a god, as played by drag performer and Broadway star Jinkx Monsoon. In “The Devil’s Chord” – which comes out bundled with episode one on May 10/11 depending on your time zone – Monsoon plays Maestro aka the god of music. Her character is described in the pages of DWM 603 as “a maleficent god”, “a deity with daddy issues”, and the episode’s titular devil.

(‘Maestro’ is of course also the Italian word for ‘master’, a connection that hasn’t escaped Doctor Who fans always on high alert for the return of the Doctor’s archest of arch nemeses The Master. What with Maestro being billed as a deity, is that just a teasing coincidence or could there be more to this ‘daddy’ tease…?)

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It’s no wonder that Davies describes “The Devil’s Chord”, which sees the Doctor and Ruby rock up to the 1963 recording of The Beatles’ first album, as not a traditional celebrity historical. “The Beatles are part of it but it’s much madder than that,” he explains to DWM. “It makes up its own rules right in front of you.”

That kind of giddy invention, says Davies, is what Doctor Who needs to stand out in the SFF landscape of today. “We’re in a very busy science-fiction/fantasy world now. We’ve always got to do what other shows don’t. It’s Doctor Who’s unique territory.”

“The Devil’s Chord” is unashamedly part, says Davies, “of that tradition – my new tradition – of having gods at war on screen.”

In other words, you might say that the show has moved past the previous tradition of ‘gods’ being explained away as aliens worshipped by cultures who’ve misapprehended their true nature (see: The Web Planet, The Fires of Pompeii and more) and is leaning into the Buffy and Marvel Cinematic Universe-ish fantasy it’s always been. Can we get a hallelujah?

Doctor Who returns on Saturday May 11 on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK, and on Friday 10 on Disney+ around the world. Subscribe to Doctor Who Magazine here.