During the pandemic, Doctor Who fans encouraged one another with various Doctor Who: Lockdown! watch-alongs and online releases, and it seems these led to the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate in next year’s 60th anniversary special. The coronavirus pandemic had a staggering impact on people’s lives; by April 2020, over half the world’s population was under some form of lockdown. Many sought solace in their favorite franchises, and in the United States, the Disney+ streaming service – then a new competitor in an already crowded industry – flourished.
Few fandoms, however, were as active as Doctor Who’s. Global watch-alongs fostered a sense of community online, accompanied by a release of new Doctor Who short stories written by celebrated authors and showrunners, and even featuring past members of the cast. Dubbed Doctor Who: Lockdown!, the movement was largely organized by Emily Cook, then-editor of Doctor Who Magazine in the U.K. Doctor Who: Lockdown! was a phenomenal success, helping many people get through a time of intense social isolation. As it built up momentum, more and more former stars got involved, with Tennant and Tate joining the tweet-alongs. It’s gradually becoming clear Doctor Who: Lockdown! had a permanent impact on the franchise, reminding so many key figures in the show’s past how much they had enjoyed working on it.
Tennant and Tate are returning to Doctor Who as part of the show’s 60th anniversary celebrations, and speaking to the BBC (via Yahoo), the former reveals the idea of their return actually began with Doctor Who: Lockdown!. He and Tate participated in the watch-alongs, with Tennant’s wife Georgia Moffat helping him take to Twitter so he could join in. Afterwards, he shared a fond text exchange with Tate and former (also returning) showrunner Russell T Davies. According to Tennant, they « were just having a text exchange and Catherine said, ‘wouldn’t it be fun to do it again?’ Russell said, ‘We could do a one off, maybe they’d let us’. We said, ‘yeah that would be a laugh,’ and then it all went quiet. »
Online fandoms are often divided, and Doctor Who’s is no exception. Still, Doctor Who: Lockdown! was generally a remarkably positive experience for all involved, especially coming at a time when Doctor Who season 13’s production was disrupted, meaning there was little breaking news for fans to discuss and get excited about. The watch-alongs fostered a sense of community, and they were accompanied by a wealth of original content released online. One of the best was a short story written by Davies, « The Secret of Novice Hame, » that subtly expanded on the recent Timeless Child concept to further expand the Doctor’s powers of regeneration. The scripts for these various stories were eventually collected in a BBC anthology, with funds raised going to Children In Need.
There’s some speculation Davies’ involvement in Doctor Who: Lockdown! played a part in his decision to return to the show as well – and Davies is taking over as showrunner, not just working on the 60th anniversary. Cook, meanwhile, now works with Big Finish on Doctor Who audio-adventures, continuing to demonstrate her skills and expand the franchise. Doctor Who: Lockdown! has certainly transformed Doctor Who, reinvigorating a franchise that had been becoming quite tired and divided before the pandemic.
Next: Everyone Returning For Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary (Confirmed & Rumored)
Source: BBC (via Yahoo)