Sunday’s virtual Doctor Who panel from Comic Con @ Home 2021 brought fans inside the TARDIS with showrunner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch, Torchwood), thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch, Attack the Block), returning companion Mandip Gill (Hollyoaks, Five Dates) and brand new companion John Bishop (John Bishop’s Britain, Fearless), who joined the cast after Bradley Walsh (Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK) and Tosin Cole’s (Hollyoaks, Unlocked) New Year’s Day departure. The panel gave fans a first glimpse at the series upcoming thirteenth season with promotional photos, a teaser trailer and an introduction to Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones, Overlord), who will play a recurring character named Vinder when the show returns later this year.
Prior to revealing Anderson, the trailer or promotional photos, Chibnall gave fans an interesting insight on what to expect from season thirteen. Unlike previous seasons of the series – where certain episodes are serialized in two or three-part specials – season thirteen of Doctor Who will attempt to tell one over-arching story, a departure from the series episodic nature.
“Every episode is a chapter in a larger story,” Chibnall said of Doctor Who’s thirteenth season during Sunday’s Comic Con @ Home panel. Bishop, who will be stepping onto the TARDIS as new companion Dan for the first time this year, explained that nearly every script he received for season thirteen ended in a cliffhanger.
According to Gizmodo, season thirteen of Doctor Who has been reduced to a short eight-episodes, due to the challenges of COVID-19 production. Chibnall likewise cited COVID-19 as the reason for this shift into a more serialized and ambitious story in season thirteen.
Chibnall, Whittaker, Gill and Bishop were cautious and coy during the panel, as not to give too much away for fans, though they teased epic multiple-episode guests stars, shocking revelations and a return of classic monsters from the franchise’s history. Gizmodo notes that the teaser, revealed at the end of the panel, seems to pick up directly after the events of recent New Year’s Day special “Revolution of the Daleks.”
At the end of season twelve, Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor discovered a shocking truth about her past thanks to Sacha Dhawan’s (The Great, Iron Fist) Master. A frustratingly out-of-the-loop Yaz glimpsed in the teaser trailer suggests that the Doctor may be trying to unpackage the information she received in season twelve on her own, at least at first.
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Whenever the Doctor is finally ready to reveal her secrets, she will have a crack team by-her-side with Gill’s Yaz and Bishop’s Dan and, perhaps even, new recurring character Vinder. A pre-recorded video from new-recruit Anderson revealed that Vinder is one of the actor’s favorite roles to-date and that he had a chance to step onto the TARDIS and man his very own spaceship in the series. Though Vinder’s recurring role in season thirteen was, characteristically, shrouded in mystery, the character appears to be an adventurer and an ally to the Doctor.
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When discussing the Comic Con @ Home panel, Comicbook cited the permeating rumor that Whittaker would take her leave after this season. The topic of Whittaker’s possible departure was not tackled on Sunday’s panel, though it has been a typical pattern for Doctors to leave the series after their third season.
Sunday’s Comic Con @ Home panel teased a season of Doctor Who unlike any produced in the series’ storied history. The teaser that closed the panel promised a 2021 premiere for the series, despite production still wrapping in the UK, via Deadline.