With the new year just around the corner, it’s a great excuse to get nostalgic as we take a fond look back at the timey-wimey thrills that the last 12 months have brought our way.
And let’s be honest, it wasn’t looking good. 2016 began with the Earth-shattering announcement that we would only be getting one Doctor Who episode and, faced with the concept of another dreaded ‘gap year’, we were left wondering how the hell we were going to manage without a full series…
Somehow, though, we made it through the darkness.
Despite the lack of on screen action, 2016 has still been a brilliant year to be a Doctor Who fan. We got a brand new spin off, Class, as another one, Torchwood, turned 10 years old, and even the Eighth Doctor came along for the festivities as the 1996 TV Movie marked its 20th anniversary. Series 10 began filming in Cardiff with a new companion, Pearl Mackie, and… well, why don’t you take a trip down memory lane to remember the rest of the best?
January (WhovianNet news posts: 28)
After Doctor Who bid farewell to 2015 with the bittersweet tale of The Husbands of River Song, fans were left to anticipate the brand new adventures that 2016 would have in store.
Going into the new year, we didn’t actually know when the Doctor would be back on our screens, but all of our questions were soon answered when, on 22nd January, it was announced that Steven Moffat would be stepping down from his role as showrunner – to be replaced by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall – after Series 10. But guess what else? It was also confirmed that Series 10 wouldn’t be airing until 2017, meaning that only one episode, the Christmas Special, would be airing in 2016. It was going to be a long year…
Also in January, resurfacing rumours abound that Peter Capaldi would too be stepping down after one more year in the TARDIS, as Tom Weston-Jones emerged as a very early favourite to be cast as his successor. Meanwhile, John Hurt was Doctor Who Magazine’s new year cover star to promote the forthcoming War Doctor Big Finish audio adventures. And we thought we’d never see him again after The Day of the Doctor!
February (WhovianNet news posts: 18)
Love was in the air in February with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, and Cupid certainly worked his magic for fans of Lucie Miller when it was confirmed that Sheridan Smith would be reprising her role as the popular Eighth Doctor companion for a new Big Finish audio adventure. Welcome back, Lucie!
Elsewhere, Peter Capaldi was making the most of his extended break from filming by travelling to Jordan to meet Syrian refugees on behalf of the UN Refugee Agency, while back on home turf he lent his hand to the junior doctor’s Wear Your NHS campaign. You can always count on Capaldi.
Following Jenna Coleman’s departure in the last series, everybody was talking about the identity of her replacement, with EastEnders actress Rakhee Thakrar already being hotly tipped to take on the prestigious companion role. As always, only time would tell…
March (WhovianNet news posts 16)
It only felt like yesterday that our impossible girl, Clara Oswald, had bid adieu to the TARDIS (her final series landed on DVD and Blu-ray this month), but there was hardly any time to miss her as her real life alter ego wasn’t off our screens for long. On 27th March, ITV debuted the trailer for her first post-Who project, Victoria, in which Jenna was to take on the guise of Britain’s then longest serving monarch.
Back in the Whoniverse, the series went and broke another Guinness World Record when 492 cosplaying Whovians descended upon a Mexican convention to partake in the largest gathering of fans dressed as character’s from the same show. Which is a real thing, apparently. This fandom never ceases to amaze us…
Meanwhile, River Song was back (again!) as Big Finish revealed that she’d be teaming up with not one but two Classic Doctors in a new audio range and, with the anticipated new spin off, Class, just around the corner, speculation was rife that the Time Lord’s current incarnation himself was set to make an appearance. Well, he’s never been one to miss out on a party…
April (WhovianNet news posts: 25)
Speaking of Class, we got the first episode title back in April when its star Katherine Kelly – whose character name was also revealed as Miss Quill – treated her Twitter followers to a behind the scenes picture of a script. OK, so the title, ‘The Prom’, had changed by the time the episode transmitted, but it was still exciting at the time.
The biggest story of the month (and, admittedly, the one we should’ve started with), was the long awaited unveiling of Pearl Mackie as the brand new Doctor Who companion, Bill. Never one to make a Doctor Who announcement quietly, the BBC opted to reveal the news in the form a specially recorded scene which was premiered during the FA Cup semi-final on 23rd April for some reason. Still, fans were overjoyed to have one of their first (and last) Doctor Who doses of the year, and they even threw in a Dalek for good measure. Because why the hell not?
Meanwhile, fans were saying lots of nice things about Michelle Gomez when her praised portrayal of Missy landed her a prestigious BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Spoilers: she didn’t win), as David Tennant and Catherine Take took over DWM to coincide with the release of their new Big Finish audio series. The Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble also had a new novel coming out, too. It was like 2008 all over again…
May (WhovianNet news posts: 19)
John Barrowman got tongues wagging (which, we know, is so unlike him!) in May when he revealed that he was about to return to Cardiff for some Doctor Who/Torchwood related shenanigans, which turned out to be the recording of a new Big Finish adventure co-starring Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler.
Christmas also came early for fans when Character Options unveiled the brand new Twelfth Doctor Sonic Screwdriver toy (it lit up and everything!) and Michelle Gomez sent the forums into meltdown when she let slip during a convention Q&A that Missy would be returning in Series 10. DWM also celebrated its landmark 500th issue by giving readers the chance to vote for their favourite cover.
June (WhovianNet news posts: 11)
We’d reached the halfway point of the year and there wasn’t a Doctor Who episode in sight, but thankfully the cast and crew had begun working their little socks off in Cardiff as the cameras finally rolled up on Series 10.
To mark the auspicious occasion, the Doctor’s incoming BFF was pictured on location as it was announced that she’d be joined in the TARDIS by Matt Lucas (reprising his role as Nardole from the 2015 Christmas Special), and Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sarah Dollard were confirmed as the first writers.
Meanwhile, in the same month that Penelope ‘Harriet Jones’ Wilton (yes, we know who she is…) was knighted by the Queen, there was a social media frenzy when Karen Gillan, Billie Piper and Michelle Gomez collectively got with the times by finally joining Instagram. Better late then never eh, girls?
July (WhovianNet news posts: 11)
July saw David Tennant become a fully-fledged doctor (no, seriously!) when he was the recipient of an honorary acting degree awarded by his old drama school in Glasgow. His career reached its peak, however, with the announcement that he’d be appearing in the upcoming season of Family Guy as part of a light-hearted parody entitled ‘Doctor Who Farted?’. Whoever smelt it, dealt it.
Outside of Quahog, filming on Series 10 was in full swing as production continued in Spain (but first, let them take a selfie…), and The Royle Family star Ralf Little became the latest actor to be signed up for a guest stint in the new adventures.
Meanwhile, Torchwood fans were given new hope when John Barrowman revealed that he was in talks to bring the spin off back to screens (nearly 1,000 – a whopping 98% – of you gave that a big “hell yes!” in our accompanying poll) and Matt Strevens, producer of the 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, was appointed exec producer of Series 11 of Doctor Who as the creative team for Chris Chibnall’s 2018 adventures began to take shape. Because they’re nothing if not organised.
August (WhovianNet news posts: 8)
With her anticipated return to the small screen as Queen Victoria imminent, Jenna Coleman was popping up here, there and everywhere throughout August as she promoted the show in a vigorous string of interviews and press junkets, which basically became conversations in which she was continually forced to deny her return to Doctor Who. It would’ve been rude not to ask.
Meanwhile, the 20th anniversary of the Doctor Who TV Movie was commemorated with the announcement that it would finally be making its way to Blu-ray, while, amid rehashed rumours that Series 10 would be filming in Vancouver, Hercule Poirot himself – veteran actor David Suchet - stepped in front of the cameras in Cardiff to shoot his guest stint as the mysterious Landlord. It was already shaping up to be one hell of a series!
September (WhovianNet news posts: 8)
September was all about celebrating the past (because, let’s face it, not an awful lot was happening in the present…) as DWM dedicated their cover to the Fifth Doctor to coincide with Peter Davison’s most candid interview ever, while, in an equally candid interview, Christopher Eccleston reflected on the “tragic” circumstances that led to his untimely departure as the Ninth Doctor after just one series. Basically, it was a disaster (his words, not ours!).
The big story of the month, however, and the news that made Classic Series fans both young and old weep tears of joy and jubilation into their TARDIS handkerchiefs, was that the missing 1965 serial The Power of the Daleks was being RESTORED (sort of) as a black and white animation. Hurrah! What’s more, it was to be released on the 50th anniversary of its original transmission, so it was all very nostalgic and exciting. Oh, and four new audio adventures featuring Captain Jack were announced, but what else is new?
October (WhovianNet news posts: 34)
It was time to go back to school, specifically Coal Hill, in October as Class finally opened its doors, premiering online on BBC Three with a double-whammy of drama on Saturday 22nd October. A new chapter had officially begun!
While Doctor Who fans got to know their next generation of honourable heroes, it was business as usual at Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff as filming continued on Series 10, which was to feature the return of a Classic Series writer…
We finally got a taste of what was in store when a first look preview of this year’s Christmas Special – named this month as The Return of Doctor Mysterio – was posted online on 7th October, with an epic new poster to boot, as the BBC surprised us all by revealing Justin Chatwin as its leading guest star, one whole week after the news had been leaked by British tabloids. Oops.
Torchwood turned 10 years old (not that DWM paid any notice…), the Weeping Angels reigned supreme – again – in our annual Who’loween Spooktacular, and the BBC announced a new range of Doctor Who books based on the Mr. Men franchise, because apparently there isn’t any fictional universe the Doctor can’t co-inhabit. Not that we’re complaining, of course.
November (WhovianNet news posts: 36)
In the same month that Doctor Who celebrated its 53rd anniversary, fans were introduced to a brand new Time Lord from the universe next door when Ken Campbell stepped aboard the TARDIS as The Lost Doctor in a fan-made audio project, released online for free in November.
Meanwhile, over at Coal Hill Academy, things went from bad to worse for Charlie and the gang but, as the mid-series trailer affirmed, it was all about to change…
Speaking of trailers, we got a brand new one for the Christmas Special in the form of an exclusive clip which was aired as part of Children in Need in BBC One and, having been off air for almost a year, the BBC were making no secret of the fact that Doctor Who would return on Christmas Day at 5:45pm. That was Christmas Day, 5:45pm. 5:45. Christmas Day. Do you need to write it down?
Also in November, the British press got their devilish mitts on some intriguing spoilers for Series 10, at the same time as they claimed the show would be getting a “major shake-up” – new Doctor et al – in 2018. It was confirmed by official sources that Series 9 director Daniel Nettheim would be back to call the shots in 2017, and you know that Classic Series writer that Steven Moffat teased last month? Turns out it’s none other than Rona Munro, who penned the “last ever” Doctor Who serial, Survival, back in 1989. Which is pretty damn cool if you ask us. Is it 2017 yet?!
December (WhovianNet news posts: 18)
Not quite, but it’ll be here before you know it. We had Christmas to get through first and, with the season of tinsel, turkey and goodwill to all men finally upon us, the Doctor’s grand comeback in The Return of Doctor Mysterio was just around the corner.
The episode premiered on Christmas Day (at 5:45pm, if you didn’t get the memo…), with 5.68 million viewers tuning in to see our beloved hero take on a band of brain-swapping aliens in New York. If that doesn’t make you feel festive, we don’t know what will.
With the Doctor back where he belongs, it’s full steam ahead for Series 10 next year, which was previewed in this action-packed Coming Soon trailer which aired after the Christmas Special. We certainly have lots to look forward to, not least the return of Missy, as documented by the woman herself via the means of an obligatory set selfie. Toby Whithouse is back to write an episode, too, and we can’t wait to find out what other shocks and surprises lie in store. New series… new companion… same old Doctor!
And that was 2016! What have been your Who highlights of the year? And what are your hopes for 2017 and Series 10? Let us know… oh, and Happy New Year!