Doctor Who fans have been buzzing about the universe’s latest spinoff show, Class, since it was announced last fall. The new series takes place at Coal Hill Academy in London, a school which has featured occasionally in the Who-verse since the show’s beginning. This newest spinoff project will premier this fall. The series has garnered attention for its fresh cast and talk of an LGBT character, but we still hadn’t heard much about the world of Class–until now.
Loyal followers of the decades-long British time traveling romp, who have witnessed the emergence of other Who spinoffs like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, will be pleased to learn more about Class. In a new interview, Class creator Patrick Ness talks more about the show’s influences and intended audience, providing some unexpected insight into the new series.
Speaking to Empire, Ness cites Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a key influence on Class, but not just because of its young cast and school setting. “Adults watch that, because it’s a great show, but the POV and the agency are all teenage, and that’s what we want to do with Class,” states Ness. “It needs to be from the point of view of the sixth-formers – but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a ‘young show’.” (Sixth-formers, to those of us stateside, are essentially high school juniors and seniors.)
Ness then went on to distinguish his show from Buffy, by specifying that there will be no “chosen one” story line. “It’s happenstance that puts these people [at the centre of things]. What if your timing is just weird and things happen to you?” he asks. So, perhaps we can liken Coal Hill Academy to the Hellmouth, but that doesn’t mean any of its students are Slayers.
It’s useful and intriguing to receive this new insight into the world of Class, especially through the lens of an already beloved show. Doctor Who and its spinoffs–most notably Torchwood–have always emphasized the human experience in response to seemingly impossible phenomena, and it sounds like Class will be no exception. However, Ness’s impulse to clarify that class is not a “young show” may be unnecessary. In fact, the Doctor Who lineup would only stand to benefit from a show geared towards teenagers, as its audience has aged with the second-generation series, now heading into its tenth season. Perhaps teens worldwide will feel a special connection to the Class kids, whose problems really are the end of the world.
At the same time, it makes sense for creator Patrick Ness to encourage young adult and adult fans of the Doctor Who universe to stick with Class, despite the young cast, since that fan base is already so established. Will the show prove to be as universally likeable as Buffy, or will it attract a newer, younger audience, separate from long-held fans of Doctor Who? Perhaps, if Ness is lucky, both will happen, but only wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey stuff will tell.
Class premieres on BBC Three and BBC One in October.