Now that filming has commenced on what we presume to be the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary special, news is coming quick out of Wales. A week ago, Ncuti Gatwa was announced as the Fourteenth Doctor. Over the weekend, executive producer Russell T. Davies and the BBC confirmed 10th Doctor David Tennant and Catherine Tate would be returning for the celebrations — although the cagey wording made it unclear if this was just for the special or a more extended return. And Monday saw the announcement of a new cast-member: Heartstopper‘s Yasmin Finney as Rose.
Yeah, you read that right. The name was a key part of Davies’ 2005 revival of the show, which featured Billie Piper as companion Rose Tyler, but it remains to be seen if this second Rose is in away related to the first. Although the mystery of a new Rose is just beginning, Finney offered a few comments on the news: “If anyone would have told 8-year-old Yasmin that one day she’d be part of this iconic show, I would have never in a million years believed them. This show has a place in so many people’s hearts, so to be seen as a trans actress by the legend himself Russell, has not only made my year, it’s made my life. I cannot wait to begin this journey and for you all to see how Rose blossoms. Get Ready.”
Per TVInsider, Davies added little clarity about Rose in his statement. “Life on Doctor Who gets brighter and wilder, how can there be another Rose? You’ll find out in 2023, but it’s an absolute joy to welcome Yasmin to the Doctor Who set. We all fell in love with her in Heartstopper, one of those shows which changes the world — and now Yasmin can change the Whoniverse!” he wrote. Much like the Tennant/Tate confirmation, the imprecise wording will mean lots of speculation over the next little while.
That’s probably a good thing. The program has been radio silent for so long — at the seeming behest of outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall — that these confirmations feel exciting and different even if they are eating into Jodie Whittaker‘s final days as the star of the show. Of course, she finished filming sometime ago, but the perception of who The Doctor is at any given moment is usually marked by the broadcast of the regeneration scene. In certain sense, she is still The Doctor until her and Chibnall’s final Doctor Who special. Nevertheless, it seems clear the Beeb is interested in promoting the next regeneration of Doctor Who as early as possible.
But for those of us who remember the announcement of Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and the full year of specials starring Tennant afterward, the next eighteen months or so are going to feel quite strange. And that’s before we consider Gatwa’s place in the 60th Anniversary story or whether or not Whittaker will make some sort of appearance in it.
The next version of Doctor Who materializes in 2023. Whittaker’s final episode will air in the Fall.