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 changed the shape of the show too, but in a more familiar way, as (spoilers) not every member of the fam decided to stay in the Tardis for next 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?
Season 12 wrapped up on 1 March in the UK, and then we had a ten month wait for ‘Revolution of the Daleks’, which aired on New Year’s Day 2021. We don’t yet know when season 13 will kick off, but it’s likely that we have quite a while to wait.
Production only began on the season in November 2020, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see the show until late 2021, and even then it will be with a reduced order of just eight episodes – blame Covid.
“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production. We’re thrilled to be back making the show,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said. “Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous COVID working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11.”
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.
Who’s in the cast for season 13?
As mentioned above, season 13 has entered production of the eight episodes that are on the way, and Whitaker at least has confirmed she’s on board for a return.
“Yes, I’m doing another season,” she told EW. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! [Laughs] I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”
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.
“I think there’s a lot of mileage left in these characters. We know where they’re going and what they’re heading for and who they’re going to meet,” Chibnall said of the Doctor and Yaz. “We will be back with some very very exciting, fun, thrilling mad episodes after this [New Year’s] special has aired.”
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.
What about the season 13 plot?
Beyond the companions, we don’t know much about what to expect from the new season.
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.
Photo credit: @scousepunx.#DoctorWho #dwsr pic.twitter.com/gKpYt1LLrA
— Who Fan Site 💙 (@WhoFanSite)
March 22, 2021
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.
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.