We are six months into 2016, and there are another six months to go before we get a new episode of Doctor Who this year. How’s a fan to cope without not 12 episodes of time travel shenanigans to consume and then argue about? Have no fear! There’s so much more to the world of Doctor Who beyond the show, and we’re here to help point you in the direction of the fix you need before the Christmas Day special finally arrives.
Mercilessly Binge-Stream Past Seasons
This is perhaps the most obvious element to turn to in a time of Doctor Who famine, but there was a brief scare earlier this year when the series vanished from Netflix and Hulu that not even rewatches could help in the year of Who-lessness. The good news, however, is that while the show is no longer on those streaming services, it’s shifted to Amazon’s Prime Video, which currently has the first eight seasons of the revived show available to stream (the ninth season will be added later this year).
Been a while since you’ve rewatched? Maybe you even jumped on board with the 11th or 12th Doctor and have yet to dive back into the show’s back catalog. It’s (mostly) all there, in one convenient streaming service. Just try to stretch it out over a few months rather than a few nights. Fish fingers and custard-themed snacks are optional.
Rewatch (or Discover) Classic Doctor Who
An even more tempting area of exploration for fans of Doctor Who is making the considerable leap back into the show’s 50+ year history—and that means diving into the world of ‘Classic’ Doctor Who, naff monster suits, shaky sets, and all.
If you’re used to the modern dazzle of current Doctor Who, going back to the vast library of old episodes (the majority of which are available on DVD, but are harder to find on streaming services), might be a little challenging—times have changed, and so has television. But Doctor Who’s legacy is a powerful bridge that means while everything certainly looks different and weird, it’s still undoubtedly Doctor Who. And when there’s no new Who on the TV, the classic show becomes a vast land of unexplored potential for fans who’ve only seen the current run.
That said, all that history makes for a daunting task at first—and given that the classic show’s streaming availability is much more scattershot than the modern version, it means jumping in is also a higher investment. One bad starting off point and you could be put off for life! We’ve written before about the “NuWho” path into classic Doctor Who, and it’s still good advice: discover the joy of Ace, the show’s first attempt at a Rose Tyler-esque companion, dip your toes into the iconic run of Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor, and feel it out from there. If you’ve already dived in, it’s a chance to try stories you’ve not seen yet, but if its’ your first time, you’ve got a wealth of “new” Doctor Who to discover! You might find yourself falling in love with these Doctors as much as you have with the current ones.
Explore Who-Adjacent British Sci-Fi
Maybe it’s not more Doctor Who that you really need to bide your time, but instead a yearning for people with British accents talking about spaceships. Doctor Who may be amongst the best known and most influential when it comes to British sci-fi, but its legacy and the people behind it have in turned fuelled many fantastic science fiction and fantasy shows from the small country. It might not be as big and as flashy as its American counterparts, but the U.K. has been home to some other beloved sci-fi shows over the years.
We’ve got you covered there too: here’s our guide to the must-watch British science fiction as a Doctor Who fan, from old classics like Sapphire and Steel to newer fare like Misfits. After all, what better way to distract yourself from the lack of one obsession by flinging yourself into a new one?
Enter the World of Big Finish
If you’re all out of televised Doctor Who to watch, this is the next big step: discovering the audio plays by Big Finish. Full cast audio dramas, they’re muli-part stories that are basically like watching an episode with your eyes shut. If you’ve not listened to something like this before it can be a little weird at first, but you get used to it very quickly.
And when you do, you’re introduced to some of the most brilliant Doctor Who storytelling around. Big Finish has spent decades churning out stories starring the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Doctors, with spinoff tales focusing on past companions, the Daleks, the Time Lords, and all sorts. But their real strength is the fact that they have breathed life into the short-lived Eighth Doctor, played on screen by Paul McGann just once in the 1996 TV movie (and then in a short released in 2013, much to the giddy delight of fans).
McGann’s Doctor may have been given the short shrift on TV, but at Big Finish he’s had tons and tons of stories (including a run that essentially emulated the style of the modern show, alongside the fantastic Sheridan Smith as his companion, Lucie Miller) that have fleshed out the character, and let fans fall in love with him. It’s a chance to discover a side of Doctor Who you’re probably not really familiar with yet, and it’s full of tales you most likely have not experienced
As a bonus, Big Finish has also recently started developing audio dramas based on the revived version of the show. John Hurt’s War Doctor, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart’s UNIT, and even Torchwood all currently have spinoffs, but the gem of this line is the recently released Tenth Doctor Adventures, marking the official return of David Tennant and Catharine Tate as the Doctor and Donna Noble for a new run of stories. They’re hands-down some of the best new Doctor Who you’ll experience this year. Here’s a guide on how to start listening.
Give the Comics a Read
A pattern you might be noticing here, but if you didn’t notice it before as a fan of the show: Doctor Who is bloody everywhere. There’s tons of new material available and coming out to tide fans over until the show is back on the air.
Case in point, Titan’s excellent range of Doctor Who comics. The franchise had a bit of a shaky start after the license moved from IDW, but since then Titan’s line—which now features ongoing series for the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors—has flourished into a solid collection of comics. If your tastes lean a little more to the classics, both the Fourth and Eighth Doctors have received miniseries recently, with one based on Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor on the way. There have even been multi-Doctor crossovers, and even Torchwood is joining in on the fun later this year. If you’re already a comics reader, they’re worth checking out.
Learn Everything You Can About (and Then Wait Patiently For) Class
When we say there’s no Doctor Who on the air till Christmas, it’s accurate—but it’s not to say there isn’t something linked into the wide world of Doctor Who on TV this year: Class, a young adult drama set at Coal Hill School, Clara’s former place of employment (and with ties all the way back to the start of the show and the original companions).
While we don’t know much about it just yet, other than the cast and the fact that it’ll air this year, it’s the closest thing to new Doctor Who on TV we’ll see before December. The talent behind it is intriguing—YA author Patrick Ness is writing the show—and we’ve heard more than a few times that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor could pop up. If you can’t bear to wait for Doctor Who, you might as well wait for Class while you’re at it.
Bonus: Needlessly Pre-judge the New Companion
Pearl Mackie is the new Companion! Her name is Bill! She might be from the ‘80s! She’s called Bill! She’s the first non-white regular companion since 2007! Called Bill! She’s a bit gobby like Donna! But look, I might not have been clear about this, so I’ll clarify: her name is Bill. It’s different! Which, when it comes to Doctor Who, usually indicates that it’s time for mass hysteria.
Change, despite being woven into the very fabric of Doctor Who, is something wildly feared by fandom, and a new companion is almost up there with a New Doctor for soliciting completely wild claims about how their arrival will either be the greatest thing sliced bread or the downfall of not just Doctor Who, but the BBC and maybe the world as we know it. Typically this judgment can only be formed by someone’s name (and acting history) alone, but you’re lucky to have a whole two minutes of footage of Mackie in action to re-examine and decide her fate, half a year before you (potentially) see her again.
Don’t do this. Seriously, you can’t do this for another six months. It’s dumb.
Although these are all specific to Doctor Who, many fandoms go through periods of deprivation, whether it’s gaps between seasons, hiatuses, waiting for movie sequels. Share your tips for coping with the huge waits for new stuff that are part of being a fan in the comments below.