With the current run of the BBC show Doctor Who now in its tenth year, the organization is seeking to further expand that sci-fi universe with the development of Class – a spinoff drama aimed at the Young Adult demographic. The show is created and written by author Patrick Ness, whose award-winning 2011 novel A Monster Calls was recently adapted for the big screen – by the writer himself – and arrives in cinemas in October 2016.
Doctor Who is one of the biggest jewels in the BBC’s crown. First airing in 1963, the popular sci-fi show originally ran for twenty-six years, thanks to a premise built around the tendency of the titular character to periodically regenerate. Doctor Who is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who was initially presented as something of a fugitive, but who has continued to travel through time and space in a TARDIS (which appears as a British Police Box) – battling injustice and saving the universe, using only his genius intellect and a sonic screwdriver.
Having been briefly revived in 1996 for a television movie, Doctor Who was successfully resuscitated by Russell T. Davies in 2005, and has remained on air ever since – with Steven Moffat taking over as showrunner in 2010. Moffat and his Doctor Who colleague Brian Minchin will serve as executive producers of Class, alongside Patrick Ness – about whom Moffat is very enthusiastic.
“No one has documented the dark and exhilarating world of the teenager like Patrick Ness, and now we’re bringing his brilliant storytelling into Doctor Who. This is growing up in modern Britain – but with monsters!”
Class will be set in present day London, centring on the school that frequently featured in season eight of Doctor Who. Drama will unfold as danger approaches through the walls of time and space. Ness intends that this setting will provide ample opportunity to frame Doctor Who-based concepts within a structure of storytelling for a Young Adult audience.
“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.”
Class – set for broadcast late in 2016 on BBC Three – joins a long tradition of Doctor Who spinoff shows, including Torchwood (2006 – 2011) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007 – 2011). As with any spinoffs, their overall appeal has generally been their focus on the characters that would ordinarily be secondary in the main show. While the character of Doctor Who is essentially a superhero, of sorts, the spinoff shows tend to centre on more relatable, ‘less-super’ characters that rise to the occasion and selflessly fight the good fight. The setting and target demographic of Class suggests that this new spinoff could be a worthy addition to the franchise. A London-based Buffy, perhaps? We’ll find out in 2016.