Why Doctor Who's Showrunner Focused On Real-World Issues In Season 11

The Doctor and Friends Doctor Who BBC America

Doctor Who Season 11 is officially completed and in the books, which means the cast and crew have time to debate on what elements will return when Season 12 arrives in 2020. While it remains to be seen what may change between seasons, it appears the show won't be doing away with storylines that touch on real-world issues. Chris Chibnall spoke about those socially relevant narratives recently, and why he thinks they're important to Doctor Who.

I think it's fundamental. I think you want to be writing about the world that we live in. The show is not a standalone thing, it's a response to the times that we're living in and the world that we're in. And when it comes to things that affect people's lives -- I think particularly things that children and young adults are going through -- that feels really important. I think the character of the Doctor, and [her friends] as well, is a great conduit into discussing all that...and then you add monsters as well.

For Chris Chibnall, it seems the most important messages Doctor Who can send are the ones that resonate with people going through the same issues featured in episodes. That seemingly takes precedence for him during the creative stages, and then monsters and other threats come second. This may be why Chibnall's run has featured the most diverse cast the show has seen in ages, so that he can tell as many different peoples' stories as possible.

Chris Chibnall's comments came ahead of a special screening of the New Years Day special "Resolution" (via Radio Times) that featured the return of a classic villain, the Dalek. Though that may have been enough for some fans, Doctor Who also added in a touching side-story in which Ryan's absent father showed up for the first time. The side-story ended up providing a bulk of emotion to the episode, which otherwise would've been a lot of explosions and Dalek screaming.

While Chibnall's writing style has made Jodie Whittaker's Doctor a hit, it's also created a division amongst fans, with some believing that Doctor Who has gone too "politically correct," and is sacrificing some familiar elements in order to touch on social justice and other hot-button issues. Other fans dispute that's how the show has always been handled, and that Season 11 episodes tied to current events are nothing new in the long-running program.

It doesn't really matter which part of the fanbase is right, Chris Chibnall seems committed to telling stories that hit on real-world issues. That's especially true given the solid ratings which, if maintained in Season 12, may show that there are more viewers that prefer Doctor Who's supposed new direction than not.

As previously mentioned, Doctor Who is taking a year off and won't be back with Season 12 until 2020. In the meantime, fans can head over to our midseason premiere guide and see what is coming to television in 2019.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick contains multitudes and balances his time reporting on big happenings in the world of Star Trek, the WWE, reality television, and other sci-fi shows.