Fantastic Beasts: 10 Ties To Doctor Who You Might Have Missed

J.K Rowling finally gets to write a Doctor Who story.

Fantastic Beasts Doctor Who
Warner Bros./BBC

Were it not for David Tennant’s dislike of the idea, the Doctor may well have encountered wizards and fantastic beasts from the Harry Potter universe. Having failed to lure J.K Rowling and her pen from Hogwarts to the TARDIS, Russell T Davies briefly toyed with casting the children’s author as herself in the 2008 Christmas Special.

In an adventure echoing the Patrick Troughton classic, The Mind Robber, we would have seen an alien force possess Rowling’s imagination and release her magical creatures into the real world. The Doctor is the only one who can restore the natural order and save the author.

It would have been a sure-fire ratings winner, an unashamed mash-up of two of Britain’s best loved franchises. In the end we had to settle for The Next Doctor.

Rumours about J K Rowling writing for the show persisted even after Steven Moffat took up the reigns of showrunner, and though this has yet to materialise, Rowling’s latest blockbuster, and first screenplay Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is positively brimming with Doctor Who-ness. It’s almost as if Rowling crossed into the Whoniverse, just as Russell T Davies imagined, and based her character, Newt Scamander on the Time Lord.

All we do know is that the Doctor is a self-confessed fan (The Shakespeare Code) and if Fantastic Beasts is anything to go by, the feelings are clearly mutual.

10. The Dimensionally Transcendental Suitcase

Fantastic Beasts Doctor Who
Warner Bros.

Newt’s suitcase, like the TARDIS, is bigger on the inside. Whilst Doctor Who could hardly claim copyright on the concept of dimensional transcendence (there are numerous ancient examples in Celtic mythology and three decades before Doctor Who there was Mary Poppins and her impossible bag), its prominence in the show is such that it has become a source of parody (see for example Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Man With Two Brains).

Many dictionaries now even apply the word TARDIS not only to the specific time machine in the BBC TV series, but also to any container that “is much larger than it appears to be on the outside.” According to this second definition, Newt’s case is indeed a TARDIS.

This is not the first time J K Rowling has borrowed Doctor Who’s most recognisable feature for the Harry Potter universe. Among the many examples, ironically, David Tennant’s character Barty Crouch Jr carries a trunk that hides a bigger on the inside secret, thanks to the ‘capacious extremist’ spell.

But Newt’s case is the closest Rowling has come to mimicking the Doctor’s time machine. Its function is so much more than the pragmatic need to hide and transport the creatures. The case contains a world of its own and is Newt’s spiritual and physical home.


Paul Driscoll is a freelance writer and author across a range of subjects from Cult TV to religion and social policy. He is a passionate Doctor Who fan and January 2017 will see the publication of his first extended study of the series (based on Toby Whithouse's series six episode, The God Complex) in the critically acclaimed Black Archive range by Obverse Books. He is a regular writer for the fan site Doctor Who Worldwide and has contributed several essays to Watching Books' You and Who range. Recently he has branched out into fiction writing, with two short stories in the charity Doctor Who anthology Seasons of War (Chinbeard Books). Paul's work will also feature in the forthcoming Iris Wildthyme collection (A Clockwork Iris, Obverse Books) and Chinbeard Books' collection of drabbles, A Time Lord for Change.