Doctor Who has been a mainstay of British (and now American) TV for over fifty years. It makes sense then, that within the Time Lord’s existence we have, at times, been taken into previously unexplored areas. Previous spinoffs have included Torchwood, which starred John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness; Totally Doctor Who, which ran in conjunction with the 2006 series and featured key characters; and The Sarah Jane Adventures, starring the late Elisabeth Sladen.
While Torchwood was aimed at an older audience than Doctor Who, both Totally Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures were aimed at younger audiences and both aired on children’s channel CBBC. All three spinoffs proved popular, with audiences keen to explore the Doctor Who ‘verse further and enjoying getting to know new characters. With the current series of Doctor Who not faring too well in the ratings, it perhaps comes as little surprise that the BBC are looking to draw in a whole new legion of fans with another spinoff titled Class - this time, aimed at a young adult audience.
Class will be set at the fictional Coal Hill secondary school, which has featured multiple times in Doctor Who and is the school which current companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) teaches at. The show will film, as per Doctor Who, mainly in Cardiff with shooting planned for early 2016, though it will be set in contemporary London where “Incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space, and with darkness coming, London is unprotected.”
The show will air as 8, 45 minute episodes in 2016 and will be shown on BBC3. Depending on the outcome of the BBC’s public consultation, this could mean that it will air online only, since current plans are being pushed through to make BBC3 an online channel from January 2016.
Class is written by acclaimed YA novelist Patrick Ness, who has also just completed the screenplay for a film adaptation of his best-selling novel, A Monster Calls (to be released in 2016). Steven Moffat will serve alongside Brian Minchin as executive producers for the show, which Moffat describes as “Growing up in modern Britain, but with monsters”.
Here is the official statement on the news from Moffat:
“No one has documented the dark and exhilarating world of the teenager like Patrick Ness. And now we're bringing his brilliant story-telling into Doctor Who.”
Ness also released his own statement about the news:
"I'm astounded and thrilled to be entering the Doctor Who universe, which is as vast as time and space itself. There's so much room there for all kinds of amazing stories, and to work with Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin to find a place to tell one of my own has been an absolute joy. I can't wait for people to meet the heroes of Class, to meet the all-new villains and aliens, to remember that the horrors of the darkest corners of existence are just about on par with having to pass your A-Levels."
It is unclear yet whether any of the Doctor Who regulars will crossover to Class. With the departure of Clara Oswald imminent, we can assume she will not feature, but there could be the potential for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor to make an appearance, especially in the early days to give the show a boost. There is also the possibility that we might see some familiar villains turning up alongside the new ones of which Ness speaks.
Another unknown is who will star in the show, though given the title and the school setting, one would imagine it will be more of an ensemble cast of alien-fighting school kids (as opposed to one main star). Indeed, it could potentially feature some of Clara’s pupils that we’ve seen in previous Doctor Who episodes.
While it is undoubtedly going to be interesting to see how this spinoff fares, in many ways the making of Class seems a bit superfluous to needs. Doctor Who is aimed at a family audience, which surely includes within it, the very same target yA audience that Class is trying to attract. Not only that, but fans can’t help but wonder why the creative team of Moffat and co aren’t focusing their energies on improving the quality of Doctor Who - rather than bringing us something new.
What do you think? Are you excited to explore another aspect of the Doctor Who universe with Class, or would you rather the focus remains on the Time Lord himself?
Class is slated to premiere on the BBC in 2016.
Source: The BBC