Make new friends, but keep the old — Doctor Who is living by the New Year’s mantra with its upcoming 13th season, which BBC confirmed is set to air in 2021. With season 13, which is set to have a shortened episode count due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we’ll be meeting a new companion played by stand-up comedian John Bishop, who will be joining the current TARDIS team of Jodie Whittaker‘s Doctor and Mandip Gill‘s Yazmin Khan. However, per new casting rumors, this team may be short-lived as rumors suggest Whittaker may be stepping away from the role in the near future.
Doctor Who Season 13 Teaser: Meet the New Companion
At the end of the Doctor Who New Year’s special “Revolution of the Daleks,” BBC tacked on a surprise teaser for season 13, which showed two men discussing horoscopes. “Surprises lie in store this year, the color blue will be important, and the letter D,” one man reads to an unseen man carrying boxes. “Your lucky number’s 13, be prepared for action, and whatever hurdles come your way, just remember it’s not the end of the world.”
It’s all a series of Doctor Who meta clues (Whittaker is the 13th Doctor, the TARDIS is blue, etc.) that all lead us to the introduction of a new character: John Bishop’s Dan. BBC confirmed that Bishop will be playing a character named Dan, who appears to be another companion who hails from modern-day England.
“It’s time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan,” said showrunner Chris Chibnall in a statement. “Oh, we’ve had to keep this one secret for a long, long time. Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it’s a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS.”
Added Bishop, “If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it. It’s an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn’t wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip.”
Known for his strong Scouser accent, Bishop is a stand-up comedian in the U.K. who has appeared in episodes of Skins and the crime drama Accused. Bishop’s casting is part of a long New Who tradition of casting comedians as companions, often to surprisingly great success, including fan favorites like Catherine Tate as Donna Noble (one of the most beloved companions since the revival) and Matt Lucas as Nardole. And while Bishop’s comedy chops — and, let’s face it, remarkably strong cheekbones — seem like they’ll make him an asset on Doctor Who, I was kind of looking forward to having an all-female TARDIS for a change with just Whittaker and Gill on board. Gill’s Yaz is sorely in need of character development after being put on the backburner for the past two seasons, and a smaller cast would have finally afforded her that.
But this trio may ultimately be short-lived, as reports have recently surfaced that Whittaker may depart Doctor Who after the upcoming season. Usually, I wouldn’t pay attention to these reports, but the rumors originate from The Mirror, and Whittaker’s departure would line up with the average three-season run of most actors who play the Doctor (with exceptions for popular Doctors like Tom Baker and David Tennant). However with her run shorted because of COVID and because of shorter 10-episode seasons, there’s a possibility she may stick around for a few more special episodes after season 13. But, who knows, the lucky number is 13.
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