Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies issues warning to parents ahead of show’s return

Doctor Who’s returning showrunner Russell T Davies has issued a warning to parents about “dark” and “violent” content in the show’s forthcoming episodes.

Davies is back at the helm of the long-running sci-fi series, 18 years after he was responsible for bringing Doctor Who back to the BBC with Christopher Eccleston playing the newest iteration of the Time Lord.

The show is returning for three episodes in November and December to mark Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, which will see David Tennant return as the Doctor alongside Catherine Tate as his companion Donna Noble.

But while Doctor Who has had kids hiding behind the sofas in fear for six decades, Davies has shared that not all of the episodes will be appropriate for children to watch at all.

The writer behind It’s A Sin and Years and Years explained that he had thought of his eight-year-old self while creating the new episodes, and accepted that kids would be watching, even though “it’s not a children’s show”.

Of the three episodes, series opener The Star Beast, which airs on 25 November and centres on a furry creature called a Meep (voiced by Miriam Margolyes), is the most child-friendly, Davies explained.

“It is like a great big Pixar family film, like a bank holiday film – all the family watching, lots of laughs, a funny monster,” he said.

David Tennant is returning as the Doctor for the specials (BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney)
David Tennant is returning as the Doctor for the specials (BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney)

However, the following two episodes will not be appropriate for children, Davies warned. “The second one, Wild Blue Yonder, is darker. Not scary – it’s genuinely weird,” he said.

“We do very scary stuff. Some stuff is quite violent. It’s not for children, it’s about children.”

However, the showrunner said that he had thought of the kids watching that first episode when it came to his motivations behind making Doctor Who as good as it can be.

“The most important thing is that eight-year-old watching, and I do know that when you’re eight, or when you’re six, there’s nothing more disappointing than a disappointing episode of your favourite show. That’s a real low that day,” he said.

“So you’ve got to keep it variable and change it, but it is that thought of disappointing that kid [that] drives us all.”

Tennant’s return to Doctor Who comes following Jodie Whittaker’s exit as the 13th Doctor. With Ncuti Gatwa’s casting as the new Doctor already announced, it had been expected that she would regenerate into the Sex Education star. However, she instead turned into Tennant, who starred as the 10th Doctor from 2005 to 2010.

Tennant’s Doctor with Donna (Catherine Tate) and her mother Sylvia (Jacqueline King) (BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney)
Tennant’s Doctor with Donna (Catherine Tate) and her mother Sylvia (Jacqueline King) (BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney)

A favourite among fans, Tennant will only appear in three episodes of the show, where he will be, a little confusingly, known as the 14th Doctor. Gatwa, the 15th Doctor, will then take over in a special airing over the Christmas period, with Coronation Street star Millie Gibson playing his companion Ruby Sunday in an episode titled The Church on Ruby Road.

Davies takes over as showrunner from Chris Chibnall, who many fans claimed had drastically reduced the writing quality on the show – and, subsequently, the viewership – during Whittaker’s tenure.

As a result, Tennant’s return has been seen as an attempt to get former viewers back watching Doctor Who in time for Gatwa to take over control of the Tardis.

On his own reasons for coming back to the franchise, Davies said: “The truth of it is, everyone lies when they leave Doctor Who and says ‘Oh, I’ve moved on!’ I’ve been thinking about it since I was three, so there’s no way you stop thinking about it.

“There are things coming up that are brand new ways of telling stories that have never been done before, so it just feels new – I wouldn’t have gone back if it wasn’t feeling new.”

Doctor Who returns Sunday 25 November on BBC One.