Despite the release of the new trailer to coincide with the show's 56th anniversary, Doctor Who Season 12 still doesn't have an official premiere date. Rumors continue to swirl about a possible New Year's Day special and whether or not we shoudld expect to see one . The new season is coming soon, but the trailer just says "Early 2020." (So what, January? March? Define "early," please.)
But just because the specifics around Season 12 haven't been nailed down yet doesn't mean that the series' overall production is slowing down. With filming for Season 12 in the can, showrunner Chris Chibnall is already looking ahead to Season 13 in 2021.
Part of the reason for Chibnall's openness about a new season is due to the constant rumormongering by certain quarters of the fandom. These dudes feel threatened by a female Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. They're also upset by Chibnall's open embrace of the franchise as an inclusive series should serve fans of all color, races, and creeds. To that end, they've been trying to drum up speculation Chibnall and Whittaker are on the verge of quitting/being fired/otherwise gone since before Season11 even started. But Chibnall is having none of it, continuing to take Doctor Who and make it more diverse both in front and behind the camera, making it a show for everyone, not just a bunch of white dudes in their 50s. (Or the websites which cater to those POVs by calling Season 11 "controversial" when it was anything but.)
Space. For all. Coming soon. pic.twitter.com/YEWQirbSYU— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) November 21, 2019
One can see the determination in the show's newest catchphrase, which seems to be the Season 12 motto: "Space. For All."
It's also evident in Chibnall's recent interview with the Radio Times.
“It’s categorically untrue [that I’m leaving]. We’re already planning the next series after this series.”
He also notes that, despite all the noise that somehow moving Doctor Who to Sundays killed the ratings, or that fans are leaving the show in droves, Season 11 saw an uptick in weekly numbers. The plan, therefore, is to take Season 12 and go further.
Last year was a recruiting year for the show, and I think we managed to recruit some people for the show. That’s exciting. And obviously, we kept the existing audience and built on that. I think this year we’re developing that, so for all the people who are new to Doctor Who we’re going to go, ‘Look at the amazing world of Doctor Who, look at all the treats that are in there.’ So we’re building on last year. There are lots of new faces, a few old faces. There are some things trickling through which might be important. It’s different!
As for those who worry what Chibnall is doing is risky, he says Doctor Who is about risk. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he said:
[T]here’s loads of things the show hasn’t done before. I think you saw last year that we took a lot of risks, and I think that they paid off, and I think that we’ll continue to take some big risks this year. But you can do that and also give people all the stuff they love about Doctor Who as well. You balance the two. Risk is built into Doctor Who, from day one in 1963. No question of that.
He's not wrong. Trading out the lead by having them "regenerate" into a new actor every few years? A show based on science fiction worlds that are nearly impossible to do on a BBC budget? Bringing the show back after it's been off the air for decades? It's all been a risk. And it's all paying off. The guest star list for this season alone proves Doctor Who is a credit which actors want on their resume, including comedy legends like Stephen Fry and Lenny Henry.
Doctor Who is rumored to return on January 1 for a New Year's Day special, with Season 12 to follow in "early 2020," whatever that means. Hopefully, fans will find out soon.