The coming months see a number of shows beginning on and returning to UK screens. The divisive Agents of Shield and the fantastically bleak The Leftovers to name but two, and this is before we get to October, where the television season restarts in earnest.
But there’s only one show that this could ever really be about: Doctor Who. With Peter Capaldi’s ‘Twelfth’ Doctor now in possession of the TARDIS, this will likely be the most exciting start to a series in years. That’s not to take anything away from Matt Smith or any other preceding actor, it’s simply that the first episodes of the new incarnation always show a more extreme, and therefore more interesting, variant of the new personality, so the audience know what to expect going forward.
This was the case with some of the original doctors (the aggressive nature of Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor was immediately apparent in particular), and it’s certainly been the case with all the revived series ones – Rose, The Christmas Invasion and The Eleventh Hour all displayed very clearly the sort of man we were going to be seeing.
The question then, is what can we expect from Capaldi’s Doctor? The few things that are certain are that he, unfortunately, won’t be the ‘Malcolm Tucker Doctor’ all of us Thick of It fans might wish for (although some fantastic YouTube super-edits have merged the two already), he’ll have Capaldi’s native Scottish accent, and the chemistry between him and Jenna Coleman’s Clara will be friendly not flirtatious.
Beyond that, we can only go on interviews with the cast and crew. Through this, we’re told that the Twelfth will be ‘fiercer’ and ‘madder’ and might come across a bit arrogant. If anything, the relative ambiguity can only be good for the show, as finding out about what is essentially a new character is half the fun.
Behind the scenes there’s also information to dwell on. Firstly, there seem to only be 12 episodes to the series this year, going against the norm of 13 episodes a series that has been in place since the revival in 2005 (bar the ‘specials’ through 2008-2010 as the production team changed). There will presumably be the Christmas Special as well, but that’s still 1 less episode to enjoy this year. They will all be ‘this year’ this time however, with the American-ised ‘mid-season break’ not occurring.
Furthermore, the writing will be shared a lot more this season, with showrunner Steven Moffatt only behind 3 of the episodes. Whether this is a good thing or not probably depends on your opinion on the man himself. Personally speaking, this can only be a good thing. Moffatt has written some of the best one-off episodes, like the amazing Blink that introduced the Weeping Angels back in 2007, but he’s also written some of the worst series arcs of the revived series. This is by no means a universal view, but it’ll be good to have more variety this time around.
On screen, there’ll been some returning faces and some newcomers, both good and bad. The Daleks and Cybermen both appear, with one of the teaser trailers also hinting at Davros making an appearance. New to the show are Keeley Hawes as antagonist Ms Delphox and Samuel Anderson as sidekick Danny Pink, as well as guest appearances from Hermione Norris (Spooks), Frank Skinner and Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Game of Thrones).
There’s a lot to look forward to with series 8, and the wait isn’t too long either with the first episode, Deep Breath, being screened simultaneously on BBC1 and in cinemas worldwide on 23rd August.