Doctor Who Series 12: 10 Huge Questions After Orphan 55

10. Are Any Key Themes Developing For The Series?


Teaser series-long arcs were often used by Russell T Davies (Bad olf) and Steven Moffat (who shot the Doctor?), but Chris Chibnall has eschewed this approach so far, preferring instead a set of loosely connected themes. In series 11 those themes included family and death and bereavement. Yes, there is the mystery of the Timeless Child, but it looks like being a barely referenced undercurrent played out across multiple series, rather than a puzzle to be solved in the series 12 finale.

Orphan 55 ignores the shocking ending of Spyfall, apart from a brief shot of the Doctor being uncharacteristically frosty with her fam in the TARDIS. There is also, surprisingly, no mention of the Master, though when the pre-programmed announcer advised holiday makers to head for the nearest Master Station, how many of us suspected the hand of the Doctor’s nemesis at work?

Family bonds remains a key theme, but a new emphasis has been introduced this year. Bella’s desire to avenge her mother is too similar to Daniel Barton’s treatment of his poor mum in Spyfall to be coincidental. Both characters are shaped by the emotional pain they’ve lived with since childhood because of the perceived or actual failures of their parents. They both feel neglected and unloved.

There is every possibility that this will eventually tie in with the Timeless Child revelations that are to come. How the Doctor responds to the ‘sins of the fathers’ and how it compares with the Master’s destructive rage will be key to understanding Chibnall’s approach to the character.

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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.