When Russell T. Davies was announced in 2021 to be returning to Doctor Who as showrunner after a decade away from the franchise, it shocked the Whovian fandom. While some were less thrilled to perceive the franchise as going backward (or who weren't fans of Davies' first tenure), most of the fandom revealed in what they saw as the franchise coming home. But Davies' return so far hasn't heralded a rewinding of the series to its pre-2010 state. It's come with many changes, including new people in charge at the top.
That changing of the guard from a BBC-led production schedule to one led by Bad Wolf under the Sony umbrella has already produced one significant alteration of how things are done. Filming for Season 14 is already underway. Typically, this would not happen until after the new Doctor was announced. Fans are used to the BBC conducting an extensive search, months and months of rumors of who had been cast as the next Doctor, leaks, corrections, and finally a TV special that usually upended whatever fans thought was about to happen, with the new actor introduced.
With the sole exception of David Tennant's taking on the role of the 10th Doctor (which was only a few weeks after the reboot premiered), that's how it's always gone. Matt Smith was announced in January 2009; filming began on Season 5 that summer. Peter Capaldi was announced in mid-2013, and Season 8 started filming in early 2014; Jodie Whittaker was likewise introduced in July 2017 and filming started late that fall. But Davies is going in entirely new directions, filming at Bad Wolf Studios in Cardiff, a much larger and complex studio than the BBC one it leaves behind. And kicking off filming without telling anyone who the new lead is.
That being said, the plan for the regeneration episode (which was filmed last year) is a big one, so fans should expect an announcement sooner rather than later. In Doctor Who Magazine, producer Matt Strevens promised that Whittaker's final bow would be a feature-length event. "When they approached Chris [Chibnall], saying: 'We'd love you to do one more – we know the production schedule's really tight, but what do you think about doing a special for the centenary of the BBC?', it was a no-brainer," Strevens said. "The final story is a massive, feature-length epic – it was huge to shoot – with lots of surprises for fans of all ages. Jodie gets a really good send-off. I think it will push everybody's buttons."
But though the plans for the rollout of the new Doctor will work remains up in the air. The announcement and corresponding TV special would have happened months ago in other years. Fans will have to sit tight and hope that whatever Davies has planned — whether it be the rumored multi-Doctor 60th specials to kick things off or the brand new Doctor starting their journey — he gets to roll it out the way he wants and not have it spoiled by over-eager fans looking to break the news first.
Doctor Who: The Legend of the Sea Devils is the next seasonal special and is expected to air on Easter weekend (April 16 or 17) on both BBC and BBC America. Whittaker's final turn as the Doctor will come in the fall as part of the BBC centenary celebrations. Season 14 is expected to kick off in 2023, Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary year.