First off: holy shit!
Secondly: holy shit!
Well, you already know what I’m gonna say.
One of the notable things about the 2005 revival of Doctor Who was then-showrunner Russell T. Davies’ idea for spin-offs. The first was all about Torchwood, the mysterious alien-fighting organisation led by Captain Jack Harkness that ended up being very adult-oriented. Then came along The Sarah Jane Adventures, spun off from Series 2’s School Reunion. That was very much a kids show, but it sadly ended in 2011 due to the sudden passing of Elisabeth Sladen. That was well into Steven Moffat’s reign, although there hasn’t been any attempt at more spin-offs since.
That doesn’t mean the fans haven’t been asking. There was lots of talk about a show for the Paternoster Gang – Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax – however that didn’t really pan out, and personally I doubt it would have been a success because they’re not very interesting. A show about UNIT has been one of our wishes for many years, and now that they’re making regular appearances with a recurring cast I think it’s more likely than ever we could see one develop. But it hasn’t. Instead, the BBC announced yesterday that a completely different spin-off will be produced: Class!
Class is a YA series set in contemporary London. Incredible dangers are breaking through the walls of time and space, and with darkness coming, London is unprotected. With all the action, heart and adrenalin of the best YA fiction (Buffy, Hunger Games), this is Coal Hill School and Doctor Who like you’ve never seen it before.
For the uninitiated: Coal Hill School featured way back in the first ever episode of Doctor Who, as it’s where the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan went, and where he picked up his first companions – two of her teachers, Barbara and Ian. The Shoreditch secondary school has come back into play in recent years as Clara Oswald teaches there (although as she’s leaving the show, that may not be for much longer) and we’ve even had entire episodes devoted to it. A full-on show is just the next step.
Class will be run by acclaimed young adult author, Patrick Ness. He’s written a bunch of books – including a Doctor Who e-book! – as well as the screenplay for A Monster Calls, an adaptation of his own book, starring Liam Neeson and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona for a 2016 release.
“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 [producer] 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.”
He’s not wrong on the last part.
The show will start filming next spring to air sometime on BBC Three – one of the four main channels they have – although by that point it will likely have made the move to an online-only channel, which sucks. The type of content on that channel is typically much darker and grittier, so don’t be surprised if this is more in the vein of Torchwood than Sarah Jane – teenagers are pretty dark and gritty, after all.
We’ve already gotten to know one student: Courtney Woods, played by Ellis George, who tagged along for the ride in Series 8’s Kill the Moon. I’d say it’s a safe bet she’ll be returning to screens.
Aside from her, everything is up in the air. It’ll be interesting to see a Buffy-esque show about teenagers fighting aliens at school set inside the world of Doctor Who, and could potentially offer up many interesting and unique storylines to play around with if the focus is on young people. I’m hoping for something in the vein of Misfits, which was fucking awesome (young delinquents get superpowers). If I were to take some guesses, then the Doctor will cameo once in the first series – either in the premiere or finale – and we’ll probably see at least one classic monster pop up, but the rest will be entirely new.
And there’ll be hipsters. Shoreditch is basically the hipster capital of the world – hell, there’s a cafe devoted entirely to cereal which is filled with 80’s memorabilia and another where you can cuddle cats. Seriously, go to Shoreditch.
Even if Class is a crappy title, this is great news. It shows the BBC are really confident in the brand (something we Whovians are always worried about) and it’ll be neat to explore more corners of the universe – as cool as a UNIT spin-off would be, it’s something we can regularly see on the main show. I’m excited to meet some awesome new characters and watch an entirely new spin on Doctor Who, tackling topics it hasn’t had the chance to in the past.
The 8×45-minute series heads into production next spring; Doctor Who Series 9 is ongoing – check out UTF’s reviews of The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, and make sure to check out Under the Lake Saturday night!