Doctor Who has wrapped up its twelfth series (since the modern reboot, that is) with a massive two-part finale that up-ended a lot of what we thought we knew about the Doctor and the Time Lords, and followed it up with the New Year’s special Revolution of the Daleks.
That means it’s full steam ahead for season 13 – now sadly confirmed to be the final season with Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor, and showrunner Chris Chibnall’s last in charge.
As if that wasn’t enough, not every member of the fam decided to stay in the Tardis for the thirteenth season. That means a space has opened up for a new companion though, and luckily for us we already know who it’s going to be.
When does Doctor Who season 13 start?
The BBC has confirmed that season 13 will air in autumn 2021 – so we don’t have too long to wait now.
The bad news is that it will be a reduced season of just six episodes – blame Covid.
We’d previously been told that the season would be reduced to eight episodes, but don’t worry – those final two are still on the way, but will air as Specials in 2022. They’ll be joined by a third, feature-length Special also set to air next year, which will serve as a farewell – and regeneration – for Whitaker’s Doctor.
In the meantime you can always catch up on older episodes. The BBC’s added every single episode of the show since 2005 – including all the specials – to the iPlayer streaming service. That means you get every episode from every Doctor from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, without paying a penny. If you want to go even older, the classic show is now all on BritBox in its entirety – though it’s worth noting that you will have to pay to subscribe.
Doctor Who season 13 trailer
We now have our first trailer for season 13, which premiered during Comic-Con 2021. We get a first look at John Bishop in action, and a teaser that this is the Doctor’s biggest adventure yet – but otherwise the video is extremely vague. Take a look below:
Who’s in the cast for season 13?
In case you couldn’t guess, Jodie Whitaker is back for this season, even if it will be her final full series.
She won’t be joined by all the usual crew however, as the New Year’s special was the final episode for Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole, a.k.a. Graham and Ryan.
“As the Doctor I will say that the fam as a four is no more,” Whitaker said. “This will be the last time we see Bradley and Tosin. Absolutely devastated. Knowing it was my last scene with those actors, both of them had to carry me to my trailer. I’ve not cried like that in… Brad couldn’t cope with it at all.”
Whether it’s the absolute last we’ll see of the two isn’t clear – Chibnall teased “You’ll just have to see won’t you?” – but for now at least, the fam will be reduced.
Mandip Gill’s Yaz is fortunately sticking around for at least another year.
She’ll also be joined by a new face: British comedian John Bishop. He’ll be playing Dan, a character apparently written specifically with Bishop in mind – though beyond that we don’t know much about him.
“As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe,” says the BBC press release, before confirming that he’ll be “travelling through Space and Time alongside the Doctor and Yaz,” when “he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.”
There’s also a quick clip of him in action:
Welcome to the TARDIS… ✨ pic.twitter.com/WgpnYiweqR
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho)
January 1, 2021
Funnily enough, Bishop initially had to turn the part down, and for all the challenges it introduced it was actually Covid that allowed him to join the show.
“I met Chris Chibnall and he had this idea, and this character,” Bishop explained over a Zoom event. “He’d seen me in a few things, and he wanted to know if I’d be interested in Doctor Who. I was flattered but the problem was I was on tour when they were meant to be filming. So although I fancied it, I had to say no.
“And then the whole COVID thing happened! Lockdown arrived so I made a phone call and fortunately they had moved their filming dates. It now fits in perfectly – I’m doing Doctor Who up until July and then I go on the road again in September.”
As of yet it’s unknown if John Barrowman’s Captain Jack or Sacha Dhawan’s Master will return for the new season.
One new major character is Vinder, who will be played by Game of Thrones actor Jacob Anderson, who also raps under the name Raleigh Ritchie. Chibnall stated that this character, “…makes you root for him, and he breaks your heart… he’s got the whole range”, whilst Anderson described him as “fun, adventurous and dynamic”.
Here’s a first look at Vinder:
Read more here ➡️ https://t.co/k0U70diTWs pic.twitter.com/NHHvAMPMfO
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho)
July 25, 2021
What about the season 13 plot?
The Comic-Con panel with Chris Chris Chibnall gave us more clues on what to expect from the next season. Firstly, it will be one continuous plot, rather than the standard ‘monster of the week’. The last time this was done was in 1986 with The Trial of a Time Lord, starring Colin Baker as the sixth doctor.
When asked to describe this season in one word, Chibnall answered, “swarm”. Fans are now speculating that this could be a reference to a plot explored in The Invisible Enemy in 1977. This was a parasitic virus which took over victims through their eyes. This could be an interesting plot to explore, as The Doctor may be unsure on who to trust.
There was also a beast called the Nucleus of the Swarm, which is similar to a prawn – only of course a bit more horrific. This arc also introduced K-9.
Of course, this could be a misdirect, and “swarm” could be more metaphorical. Perhaps it’s new monster inspired by insects, or even a way of describing the sheer number of enemies that the fam will face.
Some fans are even speculating that there could be a return of River Song, as she helped the tenth doctor against a swarm of Vashta Nerada.
The Tardis was spotted filming in Liverpool, so it seems pretty likely we’ll have an episode set there, but that doesn’t tell us much.
Doctor Who has been preparing for filming on the Albert Dock in Liverpool this evening. All that has been so far is the TARDIS.
— Who Fan Site (@WhoFanSite)
March 22, 2021
Den of Geek reports that both the Weeping Angels and the Sontarans have also been spotted on set, so expect both of those classic villains to return. The Angels were reportedly seen “on a sleepy suburban street somewhere in contemporary Europe,” while the Sontarans are tipped to be “back in the black-and-grey combat gear of their 1970s heyday.”
Expect a follow-up on the Timeless Child plotline, and since the Doctor was just sprung from Judoon prison we might see their next attempt to get her back.
Who is the next Doctor and showrunner?
With Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall leaving, all eyes are turning to their successors. Whilst no information has been confirmed by the BBC, we do have some rumours floating around the internet.
Current favourites to succeed as the next Doctor are Michael Sheen, Michaela Coel, Richard Ayoade and Olly Alexander.
As for the showrunner, J. Michael Straczynski (best known for Babylon 5) claims to have been in contact with the BBC about possibly stepping in.
Contact with the BBC has been made. They’re going through their own process, which began before my tweet, and that has to run its course, but if those don’t pan out and there’s a discussion to be had, they will reach out. Very courteous, so we’ll see where their process leads. https://t.co/CnxqGF59ny
— J. Michael Straczynski (@straczynski)
August 18, 2021
How can you watch Doctor Who in the US?
Obviously Doctor Who is a British show, but in recent years BBC America has been better about airing the show as close as it can to the British air date, to minimise piracy. That was the same for season 12 – BBC America aired each episode in a regular Sunday evening slot at 8/7c – and the New Year’s special, which aired the same day in the US.
Alternatively, you can stream every episode of the modern show so far on Amazon Prime Video – though that will change soon. Warner Bros. has acquired exclusive US streaming rights to the series for HBO Max, so going forward that’s where you’ll need to go to watch any and all Doctor Who from 2005 onwards. That will include season 13 and other new episodes, but only after they’re broadcast on BBC America first.
Check out our full guide to watching Doctor Who from outside the UK for more options.