DOCTOR WHO Showrunner Teases "Scary," "Violent" Specials And Shares Challenges Of Working With Disney+

DOCTOR WHO Showrunner Teases "Scary," "Violent" Specials And Shares Challenges Of Working With Disney+ DOCTOR WHO Showrunner Teases "Scary," "Violent" Specials And Shares Challenges Of Working With Disney+

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has said the upcoming 60th anniversary specials starring David Tennant are "not for children," and sheds light on working with a streamer unfamiliar with the show.

By JoshWilding - Nov 16, 2023 06:11 AM EST
Filed Under: Doctor Who

There are a huge number of sci-fi fans out there who grew up watching Doctor Who, but based on comments from showrunner Russell T Davies, the upcoming specials celebrating the franchise's 60th anniversary may not feature content that's suitable for younger viewers. 

While kids will almost certainly still tune in, Davies issued the warning during an interview with The Telegraph (via 

"We do very scary stuff. Some stuff is quite violent. It’s not for children, it’s about children," he tells the site. "It’s not a children’s show but at the heart of it is an eight-year-old watching."

Davies would later somewhat contradict himself by saying the first special, "The Star Beast," is "like a great big Pixar family film, like a bank holiday film - all the family watching, lots of laughs, a funny monster."

"The second one, Wild Blue Yonder, is darker. Not scary - it’s genuinely weird," he added, saying that the third episode, titled "The Giggle," is "scary, nuts, completely mad, frightening. That one will scare you."

In the same interview, Davies addressed the decision to cast Yasmin Finney, a transgender actress, as Rose, the daughter of Donna Noble. "It’s not just a Doctor Who thing - it’s something I and a lot of other writers are very keen to do, to be progressive and reflect more of society. I think she does the most amazing job and it’s an absolute privilege to work with her and get her on screen."

Beyond what's shaping up to be an impressive cast, Doctor Who's return is generating heaps of excitement online, particularly as a cash injection from Disney+ is going to give the series a much-needed big-budget feel. However, the streamer has turned to Davies for guidance when it comes to understanding the quirky franchise.

"Sometimes you have to explain things to them. They will say, 'What’s this?' and 'What’s that?' But they love it," the showrunner reveals. "There is one episode that references Blink [a 2007 episode considered to be one of Doctor Who’s best] and they had never watched Blink. They’d never watched Blink! So they went and watched it and said, 'Oh my god, that’s a great episode.'"

How excited are you for Davies' Doctor Who return? Let us know in the comments section.

The three Doctor Who specials, titled "The Star Beast" (November 25), "Wild Blue Yonder" (December 2) and "The Giggle "(December 9) will reunite the Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna Temple-Noble (Catherine Tate) as they come face-to-face with their most "terrifying" villain yet: the Toymaker (played by Neil Patrick Harris in his Doctor Who debut).

Other confirmed cast members include Yasmin Finney as Rose Temple-Noble, Miriam Margolyes as the voice of the Meep and Ruth Madeley as Shirley Anne Bingham, as well as returning characters Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble, Karl Collins as Shaun Temple, and Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.

The 60th-anniversary specials are written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Rachel Talalay, Tom Kingsley, and Chanya Button, respectively. 

Ncuti Gatwa takes control of the TARDIS as the Fifteenth Doctor over the festive period and the new season of Doctor Who will stream globally in 2024 on Disney+ and on the BBC in the UK and Ireland. 

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Origame - 11/16/2023, 6:13 AM
"Yeah it was very challenging. They kept telling me to make the doctor black. I told them 'that's next series, this special is bringing back the 10th doctor'. They kept saying 'well why can't the 10th doctor be black. Are you racist?' I'm like, 'no, it was literally my idea for the casting of the 15th doctor.' Then they see a pic of the 13th doctor and are like, 'why did you cast a male in a female role. Do you hate women?' And that's still going on even after filming"
JustAWaffle - 11/16/2023, 6:19 AM
If I were to start watching Dr. Who, where should I start to catch up? It’s a long running show with multiple leads, and I’m not as interested in the 60s-80s material. Any help is much appreciated!

Origame - 11/16/2023, 6:28 AM
@JustAWaffle - basically any start with a new doctor is a safe bet.

The 9th doctor's only series acts as basically a reboot of the concept.

The 10th doctor is a fan favorite but does require the context of the 9th doctor to fully get into.

The 11th doctor acts as another jumping on point.

The 12th doctor requires the previous context but gives a good jumping on point when it switches companions in the episode purposely called "pilot".

The 13th doctor can also act as a jumping on point, but it's a pretty poor place to start given it's contradictions to the rest of the series and just being poorly written in general.
DevilsDreams - 11/16/2023, 6:28 AM
@JustAWaffle - Then start from when they brought it back with Christopher Eccleston, the episode called "Rose" begins "Series 1" (via BBC iPlayer), Eccleston only played the Doctor for 1 season, but it's probably the best place to start to bring you into the more modern material.
AC1 - 11/16/2023, 6:31 AM
@JustAWaffle - The 2005 revival 'Rose' is probably the best jumping on point if you don't wanna go all the way back to the classic series as that first revived season is essentially designed to reintroduce the audience to the basic concepts of the series, although you could *maybe* get away with jumping forward to 2010's "The Eleventh Hour" which seems to be where a lot of American viewers started as I think that's where the series really started to gain traction in the US
DevilsDreams - 11/16/2023, 6:48 AM
@AC1 - You could always start with the TV Movie with Paul McGann... made when Doctor Who was first trying to break into America, It's pretty cheesy and had some questionable "canon", but he has made returns to the series since.
WarMonkey - 11/16/2023, 6:50 AM
@JustAWaffle - I agree wit the rest, start with Christopher Eccleston's 1 season. Then watched David Tenant's run and then Matt Smith's. Stop after that though, and either go back to the 60-80s Doctors or quit the show cause the writing becomes terrible and stories vary between awful and boring. They also start messing with the history and start to retcon everything to "update it for a modern audience". That's where the massive drop-off of the fandom occurred and Who has never recovered. This new Disney collaboration is the response to try and save Who from dying for good. It won't work though, RIP Doctor Who, I loved you my old friend
DevilsDreams - 11/16/2023, 7:05 AM
@WarMonkey - I was genuinely enthusiastic to see Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, but the stories did noticeably drop in quality for a while, I think it did pick back up a bit with a few episodes, Season 9 episodes 11. Heaven sent and 12. Hell Bent were interesting, and the special "The Husbands of River Song" I thought was alright for bring River into the mix. Then for me to dropped off again until towards the end of series 10.

When they introduced Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor in series 11, I thought it could be interesting with the change in dynamic, but the writing felt even worse than it had been during Capaldi's run. Although I did actually like the finale of of series 13 for the most part, "The Power of the Doctor", which happened to be the end of the 13th Doctor. I'm hopeful again that the new episodes coming up with Russel and Tennant returning could be good, especially as they seem to be looking to aim them at a more mature audience.
marvel72 - 11/16/2023, 7:13 AM
@JustAWaffle - the 60s-80s,when it was actually good.
Apophis71 - 11/16/2023, 7:20 AM
@JustAWaffle - Every new incarnation is a soft reboot and easy starting point so no homework needed. However if you are up for minimal prep start with the Tennant Xmas special of 'The Runnaway Bride' then pick up with the Tennant/Donna pairing with season four of new Who starting with Partners in Crime.

That said starting with Eccleston (season one new who) through all of Tennants series' would be the way to go. Matt Smith's run is well worth watchin too however, after that many aren't as keen with Capaldi and Whittaker and shouldn't be required viewing.

Classic Who never need be on a prep list, just dive into those if you get hooked and feel the desire when you have time (Tom Baker's run my fav of classic Who).
WarMonkey - 11/16/2023, 7:43 AM
@DevilsDreams - I was excited for Capaldi too. He was fantastic in Children of Earth so my expectations were high. I feel bad for him, the writing really let him down. He could have been one of the best Doctors imo. I finally gave up on the show after his companion Bil left (I've been watching Who for like 30 years). Their interactions with each other was the only thing I was enjoying so when she left there was nothing for me anymore. The writing and stories just became even more awful as time went on.
WarMonkey - 11/16/2023, 7:49 AM
@Apophis71 - That's a good point about just diving in anywhere. I think most of the fandom probably is like me and saw a random episode at one time and liked it so wanted more and then eventually started to see there is actually a larger story at play with a ton of history. That's how my old roommate and my brother became fans too. She saw me watching episodes and sat down with me to watch one and then started asking about how to watch more as she became hooked.
JustAWaffle - 11/16/2023, 8:44 AM
@Origame @DevilsDreams @AC1 @WarMonkey @marvel72 @Apophis71

Thanks all. That was 100x more helpful than a mere Google search.
Apophis71 - 11/16/2023, 8:44 AM
@WarMonkey - Back in the day with classic Who jumping in at a random point was a given, catchup not an option and I started back in the 70's lol.

Modern Who was for a while more over arching series story running under the surface for diehards but in the main feel even with that (Bad Wolf for eg) didn't move too far away from the tradition of being fairly easy to dips in and out of for standalone episodes (esp with the specials).
WarMonkey - 11/16/2023, 1:00 PM
@Apophis71 - BTW Tom Baker is my favorite too. Would you like Jelly Baby? lol
AC1 - 11/16/2023, 6:27 AM
I met Russell once when I was a kid, genuinely lovely guy, and while I was already somewhat familiar with Doctor Who because of my Dad, the revival made me obsessed so I'm glad he's back and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with it.

I will say however his scathing comments regarding Loki a few years ago really rubbed me the wrong way and continue to be something that annoys me, the idea that the casual confirmation in the series that Loki is bi wasn't good enough because we didn't actually see him being bi and because his only on-screen love-interest was a woman; that it was something awful or whatever, was pretty silly. The series was never about exploring Loki's sexuality, it was just a tiny throwaway moment meant to slightly flesh out the character a bit more and show him opening up and being vulnerable for a second. There seems to be a misconception that if you're bi and you're interested in someone of the opposite gender then you're not actually bi, and that bisexual-identity is only valid if characters are depicted essentially as gay with a "bi" label or if they're hypersexualised and shown engaging with multiple characters of various genders.

So yeah I think that was slightly misjudged, I get the frustration that there hasn't been enough mainstream representation for the LGBTQ+ community but that wasn't worth kicking off about.
DevilsDreams - 11/16/2023, 6:45 AM
@AC1 - If you want the representation to be normalised, then it needs to appear as "normal", rather than shoehorned in.
I think Star Trek Discovery did well with that, although overall I didn't really care about the series, there was a part when the Doctor and the Scientist (sorry I forget their names) were having a conversation, which turned out to be in their quarters, about how the Doctor was concerned for the Scientist's safety, in a moment that seemed genuine and organic. It managed to show that they were gay and in a relationship without it being forced in or over the top compared to if it was a straight couple in the same scene.
WarMonkey - 11/16/2023, 7:00 AM
@DevilsDreams - Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy movie is a fantastic example of having gay and bi characters who aren't just "the gay and bi characters". Also, F U Kevin for He-Man I'm still pissed and you still owe Clownfishtv and apology for calling them liars publicly over reporting the truth about that show not actually being about He-Man.
RafaelTorres - 11/16/2023, 7:33 AM
@AC1 - if it helps, although he was critical of the shows LGBT rep, he was a big fan of the show and has hired Kate Herron as a writer of the upcoming series.
AC1 - 11/16/2023, 8:06 AM
@RafaelTorres - yeah I heard Kate Herron was involved in the new series, very exciting!
TheVisionary25 - 11/16/2023, 6:56 AM
Man , I can’t wait for next Saturday to watch the first special…

I don’t think I have been this excited for DW ever!!
NinnesMBC - 11/16/2023, 6:16 PM
I'm really curious to see this special trio of episodes.

BTW there are more Doctor Who news worth to report. @JoshWilding

First look at Nicola Coughlan in Ncuti Gatwa’s ‘Doctor Who’ series.

And Jonah Hauer-King (Prince Eric from "The Little Mermaid") also has joined the new Series of Doctor Who.

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