Doctor Who (series 13)

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Doctor Who
Series 13
Doctor Who Series 13.jpg
DVD box set cover art
Starring
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of stories1
No. of episodes6
Release
Original networkBBC One
Original release31 October (2021-10-31) –
5 December 2021 (2021-12-05)
Series chronology
← Previous
Series 12
Next →
2022 specials
List of episodes

The thirteenth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, subtitled Flux, was broadcast from 31 October to 5 December 2021. The series is the third and last to be led by Chris Chibnall as head writer and executive producer. It is the thirteenth to air following the programme's revival in 2005, and the thirty-ninth season overall. The series, initially announced in November 2019, was broadcast on Sunday nights, and was followed by three associated specials which aired in 2022.

Jodie Whittaker returns for her third and final series as the Thirteenth Doctor, an incarnation of the Doctor, an alien Time Lord who travels through time and space in her ship, the TARDIS, which externally assumes the appearance of a British police box. The thirteenth series also stars Mandip Gill and John Bishop as the Doctor's travelling companions, playing Yasmin Khan and Dan Lewis, respectively. The series follows the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions as they navigate a universe-ending anomaly called the "Flux", while dealing with enemies and secrets from the Doctor's past.

The series consists of six episodes, which form a single story across the series. The six episodes were directed by Jamie Magnus Stone and Azhur Saleem; Stone returned from directing for the previous series, with Saleem directing as a new contributor. Chibnall wrote all six episodes of the series, co-writing one episode with Maxine Alderton, who also returned after writing for the previous series. Filming commenced in November 2020, and was completed by August 2021. The series has received generally positive reviews from critics.

Episodes[edit]

For the first time since The Trial of a Time Lord (1986), and the third time in the programme's history, the series tells one complete story across its entirety, rather than self-contained episodic stories.[1][2] It is the second time where all episodes are encompassed by a single story number; The Key to Time (1978–79) maintained separate serial designations.[2]

No.
story
No. in
series
Title [a]Directed byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [3]
AI[3]
297a1"The Halloween Apocalypse"Jamie Magnus StoneChris Chibnall31 October 2021 (2021-10-31)5.8176
The Doctor and Yaz pursue Karvanista, of the Lupari species, to Liverpool, where he kidnaps tradesman Dan Lewis. The Doctor experiences a psychic vision of the mysterious Swarm, who claims to share a history with her, escaping from his imprisonment by the Time Lord Division. Before leaving Liverpool the Doctor and Yaz meet Claire, a woman from their future. Shortly after, a Weeping Angel sends Claire to 1965. On Karvanista’s ship, Yaz rescues Dan while the Doctor confronts Karvanista over his connection to the Division, before addressing the Lupari’s apparent invasion plan. Karvanista tells them the Lupari are actually saving humanity from Earth’s destruction by the Flux, an unknown, all-consuming phenomenon that defies all laws of space and time. The Flux causes Vinder, the sole occupant of a remote space outpost, to evacuate, and catches the attention of the Sontarans. Following another psychic interaction between the Doctor and Swarm, the Flux accelerates its attack on Earth. The Doctor has Karvanista form a defensive shield with the other Lupari ships, protecting Earth from the Flux. Unable to transport behind the shield, the TARDIS is overtaken by the Flux, with the Doctor, Yaz and Dan inside.
297b2"War of the Sontarans"Jamie Magnus StoneChris Chibnall7 November 2021 (2021-11-07)5.1377
The Doctor, Yaz and Dan come to in Crimean War-era Sevastopol, where the Sontarans have replaced the Russians throughout history, and meet Mary Seacole and General Logan. The Flux's effects send Dan back to 2021 Liverpool, and Yaz to a damaged temple full of dying priests, beside Joseph Williamson and Vinder. The Doctor deduces that the Sontarans slipped past the Lupari's defences. Dan infiltrates the Sontarans' shipyard. Swarm arrives at the temple, reveals it to be on the planet Time, kills the priests and takes Yaz and Vinder hostage. The Doctor enlists Seacole to gather intelligence on the Sontaran camp, then summons the Sontarans to negotiate a retreat, only to be arrested by Logan's soldiers, who later fight a disastrous battle with them. The Doctor regroups with Seacole and Logan's men, and they disrupt the Sontarans' supplies, but Logan reneges and bombs the camp. The Sontarans discover Dan, but Karvanista rescues him before destroying the shipyard, which resets the timeline. The Doctor manages to recover the TARDIS and collect Dan, but it is hijacked and brought to the temple, where they are forced to watch as Swarm is about to kill Yaz and Vinder.
297c3"Once, Upon Time"Azhur SaleemChris Chibnall14 November 2021 (2021-11-14)4.7075
The Doctor jumps into the temple's time storm and stalls Swarm by hiding Dan, Yaz and Vinder in their pasts, albeit with many details changed. Vinder reluctantly relives his time assisting the dictatorial Grand Serpent, and his demotion upon revealing the Serpent's misdeeds. Bel, a survivor of the Flux, travels through its ruins in a Lupari ship, evading Daleks, Sontarans and Cybermen. The Doctor jumps into her own timestream and recovers memories of her past incarnation, the Fugitive Doctor, and Karvanista raiding the temple to defeat Swarm and rescue the priests, from her time in the Division. She finds the priests and encourages them to return to the temple, but the priests separate her from her past to protect her. A mysterious old entity reprimands the Doctor. Bel is revealed to be searching for Vinder as his paramour, and is carrying his child and messages. The Doctor returns Yaz, Dan and Vinder to the present and fixes the timestreams. She returns Vinder to his Flux-ravaged home planet, after which a Weeping Angel intercepts the TARDIS.
297d4"Village of the Angels"Jamie Magnus StoneChris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton21 November 2021 (2021-11-21)4.5779
The Doctor reboots the TARDIS, forcing the Angel out, and strands it in the village of Medderton in 1967. Professor Jericho conducts psychic experiments on Claire. An Angel sends Yaz and Dan back to 1901 Medderton where they find a missing girl named Peggy. They discover a barrier to 1967 and Peggy's future self, who had to live out the rest of her life until then. The Doctor, Claire, and Jericho barricade themselves in his basement. Claire reveals she is becoming an Angel, having had a vision of an Angel that seizes her mind. The Doctor discovers the Angel is hiding from the other Angels, who are after it. The rogue Angel has knowledge of the Division. Jericho interrupts. The group escape through a tunnel surrounded by Angels, who take Jericho to 1901. The Doctor learns the Angels have taken the village out of time to capture the rogue Angel. The rogue Angel reveals it offered the Doctor to the Angels for its own safety. The Doctor is recalled to the Division as they turn her into an Angel, stranding the others in 1901. Bel arrives on Puzano. The survivor Namaca brings her to Swarm's accomplice Azure. Bel saves him from Azure's trap. She leaves a message for Vinder who then arrives.
297e5"Survivors of the Flux"Azhur SaleemChris Chibnall28 November 2021 (2021-11-28)4.8377
The Weeping Angels transport the Doctor to the Division where she meets her adoptive mother Tecteun. Tecteun reveals what the Division is, their knowledge of the multiverse, and their orchestrating the Flux to kill the Doctor for interfering with the Division's plans. In 1904, Yaz, Dan, and Jericho search the world for artifacts and psychics to decipher when the world will end. They meet Williamson who had discovered several doorways that led to various other places while excavating tunnels under Liverpool. Over many decades, the Grand Serpent infiltrates UNIT as an officer, eliminating those who pose a threat to him. After being threatened by Kate Stewart, he deactivates all UNIT defenses, allowing the Sontarans to enter Earth. Vinder discovers Swarm harvesting energy from Flux survivors, but he is caught and trapped in a Passenger where he meets Dan's friend Diane who was kidnapped earlier by Swarm and Azure. The Doctor watches helplessly as Swarm arrives to disintegrate Tecteun and is about to do the same to her.
297f6"The Vanquishers"Azhur SaleemChris Chibnall5 December 2021 (2021-12-05)4.6476
The Doctor splits herself into three copies. Azure attempts to return one copy's memories. Yaz, Dan, Jericho, and Williamson travel to 2021 and meet Kate Stewart and the second copy, who gives Claire and Jericho to the Sontarans and takes her TARDIS from Kate. The third crashes Bel's ship into the Sontaran command. The Sontarans remove the third copy, whom the second rescues, and commit genocide against the Lupari. They offer an alliance with the Cybermen and Daleks, a ruse to sacrifice them to the Flux while the Lupari shield ensconces the Sontarans. Claire escapes the Sontarans; Jericho cannot. The two copies rescue Vinder and Diane, and reform the Lupari shield behind the Sontarans, leaving the Flux to consume the Sontarans, Jericho, Daleks and Cybermen, and be absorbed by the Passenger. Azure and Swarm bring the first copy to Atropos to sacrifice her to Time, but Time destroys the duo and reunifies her. Using the tunnel doors, Kate and Vinder maroon the Serpent on a small asteroid. Vinder and Bel decide to travel with Karvanista. Diane refuses Dan's date offer. The Doctor invites Dan to join her and Yaz. She deposits her lost memories deep into the TARDIS interior.

Casting[edit]

The series is the third to feature Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.[4][5][6] Mandip Gill also returns as Yasmin Khan.[7][8] Following the departures of Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole in "Revolution of the Daleks" (2021),[9] John Bishop joined the cast for the series as Dan Lewis.[10]

Jacob Anderson appears in a recurring role as Vinder.[11][12] Jo Martin returned as the Fugitive Doctor in "Once, Upon Time", having last appeared in the twelfth series episodes "Fugitive of the Judoon" and "The Timeless Children" (2020).[13] Jemma Redgrave also reprises her role as Kate Stewart, a recurring character alongside the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, who was last seen in "The Zygon Invasion" / "The Zygon Inversion" (2015).[14] Other guest actors for the series include Robert Bathurst, Thaddea Graham, Blake Harrison, Kevin McNally, Craig Parkinson, Sara Powell, Annabel Scholey, Gerald Kyd, Penelope Ann McGhie, Rochenda Sandall, Sam Spruell, Craige Els, Steve Oram, Nadia Albina, Jonathan Watson, Sue Jenkins and Paul Broughton.[15][16]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In May 2017, it was announced that due to the terms of a deal between BBC Worldwide and SMG Pictures in China, the company has first right of refusal on the purchase for the Chinese market of future series of the programme until and including Series 15.[17][18] In October 2019, a deal was made between HBO Max and BBC for an additional two series of Doctor Who, including the thirteenth and fourteenth series.[19]

The thirteenth series was announced by showrunner Chris Chibnall to be in development in November 2019, before the twelfth series premiered; Chibnall returns as the series' showrunner, having been in the role since the eleventh series.[4]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on television, the series' production included only eight episodes, reduced from the previous eleven.[6] This was later announced to be shown as six episodes as part of the thirteenth series and two specials slated to air in 2022, with an additional special ordered for later that year as part of the BBC's centenary celebrations. The last episode would be Whittaker and Chibnall's last as star and executive producer respectively.[20] The six-episode series also tells one complete narrative across its entirety, rather than episodic stories; this format was last used in The Trial of a Time Lord (1986).[21][2] Chibnall stated, "Before we started making it, there were times when we thought we were going to be unable to do the show under Covid conditions this year… there were two ways you could go. You could go 'let's do lots of tiny little episodes in one room, with no monsters,' or we could throw down the gauntlet and do the biggest story we've ever done."[1] Chibnall considered the latter approach more suitable, and said that it is "definitely the most ambitious thing we've done since we've been on the series."[1]

In July 2021, near the end of filming, both Whittaker and Chibnall announced their intention to leave the programme following the series and three associated specials, to air by 2022.[22] Chibnall explained that he and Whittaker had agreed to a "three series and out" pact, and that "now our shift is done, and we’re handing back the Tardis keys".[23] In the BBC press release, Chibnall is quoted as saying: “I wish our successors - whoever the BBC and BBC Studios choose - as much fun as we’ve had. They’re in for a treat!”[20]

Writing[edit]

Maxine Alderton, writer of the twelfth series episode "The Haunting of Villa Diodati", was listed on her CV as a "core writer" for the thirteenth series.[24] In April 2020, Chibnall confirmed that writing for the series had commenced and continued remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.[25] Chibnall wrote all six episodes of the series, co-writing the fourth episode with Alderton.[26][27]

Ed Hime, who wrote "It Takes You Away" (2018) and "Orphan 55" (2020) from the two past series, listed on his CV that he was set to write an episode for the series,[28] as was Pete McTighe;[29] however, Chibnall later stated in October 2021: "We had some other really great writers scheduled, but a lot of our plans had to be altered. Partly because the new series is a serial, partly because there are less episodes and partly because of the turnaround."[26]

The story features some of Doctor Who's recurring aliens, including the Cybermen, Daleks, Ood, Sontarans, and Weeping Angels.[15][30]

Filming[edit]

According to production executive Tracie Simpson, pre-production for the thirteenth series was set to begin in June 2020, with filming originally set for September 2020.[31] Filming eventually commenced in November 2020, and ran for ten months.[6][32] Filming was still ongoing in July 2021 as confirmed at the San Diego Comic Con.[1] Jamie Magnus Stone and Azhur Saleem directed episodes of the series, with Stone directing the first, second and fourth episodes, and Saleem directing the third, fifth and sixth episodes.[33][27] Filming for the six episodes of the series, along with two of the 2022 specials, had concluded by August 2021.[33]

Production blocks were arranged as follows:[33][26][failed verification]

Block Episodes Director Writer(s) Producer
1 "The Halloween Apocalypse" Jamie Magnus Stone Chris Chibnall Nikki Wilson
"War of the Sontarans"
"Village of the Angels" Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton
2 "Once, Upon Time" Azhur Saleem Chris Chibnall Pete Levy
"Survivors of the Flux"
"The Vanquishers"

Music[edit]

Segun Akinola returned to compose for the thirteenth series.[34]

Release[edit]

Promotion[edit]

The series was first promoted at San Diego Comic Con on 25 July 2021, where the first teaser trailer was released.[1] Throughout October 2021, a Sontaran ship was projected over Liverpool,[35] and the Doctor's "phone number" was released in a promotional message.[36] On 8 October 2021, the social media accounts for Doctor Who went offline.[37] Whittaker appeared in an episode of The Graham Norton Show on 15 October 2021 during which a second trailer was released.[38]

Broadcast[edit]

The series premiered on 31 October 2021 on BBC One,[39] and aired through 5 December 2021.[40] The six-episode series is collectively referred to under the subtitle Flux.[41][42] In the United States the series aired the same day on BBC America[43] where the streaming service AMC+ carried the streaming video on demand rights to new episodes.[44] In Australia episodes are released same-day on ABC iview and broadcast on ABC TV Plus.[45]

Home media[edit]

  • (D,B) indicates a simultaneous DVD and Blu-ray release
Series Episode name Number and duration
of episodes
R2/B release date R4/B release date R1/A release date
13 Doctor Who – Flux : The Complete Thirteenth Series 3 x 50 min.
1 × 55 min.
2 x 60 min.
24 January 2022
(D,B) [46]
16 March 2022
(D,B) [47]
15 February 2022
(D,B) [48]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

No. Title Air date Overnight ratings Consolidated ratings Total
viewers
(millions)
28-day
viewers
(millions)
AI Ref(s)
Viewers
(millions)
Viewers
(millions)
Rank
1 "The Halloween Apocalypse" 31 October 2021 4.43 1.38 8 5.813 6.386 76 [3][49][50]
2 "War of the Sontarans" 7 November 2021 3.96 1.17 13 5.127 5.504 77 [3][49][51]
3 "Once, Upon Time" 14 November 2021 3.76 0.94 19 4.696 5.230 75 [3][49][52]
4 "Village of the Angels" 21 November 2021 3.45 1.12 18 4.572 5.014 79 [3][49][53]
5 "Survivors of the Flux" 28 November 2021 3.82 1.01 21 4.833 5.320 77 [3][49][54]
6 "The Vanquishers" 5 December 2021 3.58 1.06 23 4.637 5.140 76 [3][49][55]

Critical reception[edit]

Doctor Who's thirteenth series has received positive reviews from critics. Series 13 holds an 80% critic approval rating on online review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 6/10, based on 46 critic reviews.[56] Metacritic calculated a weighted average score of 68 out of 100 from six reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[57]

Doctor Who (series 13): Critical reception by episode

Series 13 (2021): Percentage of positive critics' reviews tracked by the website Rotten Tomatoes[56]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
2022 Critics Choice Super Awards Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series Jodie Whittaker Nominated [58]
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Series: Network or Cable Doctor Who Pending [59]
TV Quick Awards Best Family Drama Doctor Who Pending [citation needed]

Soundtrack[edit]

30 selected pieces of score from this series as composed by Segun Akinola was released on digital music platforms on 30 September 2022 by Silva Screen Records, and will be released on a 3-CD set on 11 November 2022.[60] The physical release of the soundtrack will include twelve selected pieces of score from "Revolution of the Daleks" as the third disc, which were originally released on digital music platforms on 2 January 2021.[61][60]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ These titles are normally prefixed with their respective "Chapter" number, or with the overall serial title "Flux".

References[edit]

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External links[edit]