The “new” Doctor Who kicked off in 2005 with the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. The series revival was lead by head writer/showrunner Russell T. Davies for the first four seasons, with frequent Who writer Stephen Moffat picking up the reins in 2010. Currently on its Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), the show has been a success on both sides of the Pond.
The popularity of the characters also allowed for spin-off series, which included immortal time traveler Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) leading the more adult-oriented Torchwood. Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), who first appeared with the Third Doctor in the original series and later reconnected with the Tenth, earned her own stories in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Now the BBC is hoping to grab more of the young adult market with Class.
Last year, the BBC announced the series would be written by award-winning YA author Patrick Ness, and would be set in Coal Hill school, where companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) was a teacher. Now the BBC has revealed the main cast of the new show, with students played by Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah. Katherine Kelly, perhaps known best to American audiences for her role as Lady Mae on PBS series Mr. Selfridge (in which Austin also appears as Gordon), is being billed as a teacher and “powerful new presence” at the school. Filming has just begun on the new series, and you can meet the cast in the “360” video below.
Moffat, who is also executive-producing Class, says “There’s nothing more exciting than meeting stars that nobody’s heard of yet.” The fresh new cast of the series will play characters dealing with all the typical teenage dramas, plus the usual Whoverse twist of the “end of existence.” The official description of the new show reveals the consequences of Doctor Who‘s repeated presence at Coal Hill, which was the setting of the very first episode of the original series:
“Coal Hill School has been a part of the Doctor Who Universe since the very beginning, but that has come at a price. All the time-travelling over the years has caused the very walls of space and time to become thin. There’s something pressing in on the other side, something waiting for its chance to kill everyone and everything, to bring us all into Shadow.
Fear is coming, tragedy is coming, war is coming. Prepare yourselves, Class is coming.”
While Doctor Who has been typically aimed at a family audience, the BBC is hoping to appeal to the teen crowd with characters and topics tailored specifically for them. Moffat has called the show “dark and sexy,” and is hoping it will be the “British Buffy.” While there might be some teenager drama that won’t appeal to older Who fans, it sounds like there will still be a big focus on the monsters, mysteries, and painful dilemmas the main series is known for.
The addition of Kelly, who owns any scene she’s in on TV, is also a big win for the show. Ness, who adapted his own best-selling novel for the Liam Neeson-starring fantasy film A Monster Calls, has hopefully put together some complex stories worth watching for any Who fan. We’ll find out when the eight 45-minute episodes air later this year on BBC3, and hopefully not too much later on BBC America.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for additional news on Class casting and air dates, as it becomes available.