The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) oversees a wedding in “Demons of the Punjab.”
Image: BBC

The latest season of Doctor Who has been breaking ground in a number of ways. Not only has it performed well in ratings with the biggest season opening since the series reboot, but it’s also done a number of episodes focusing on important social and political issues. Showrunner Chris Chibnall says this is vital, as it reflects where we are today.

At a screening of the New Year’s Day episode (as reported by the Radio Times), Chibnall discussed his decision to cover key socio-political issues, which, to be fair, isn’t a new concept for the long-running sci-fi series. Season 11 featured episodes like “Rosa” and “Demons of the Punjab,” which centered around American and British institutions of racism, as well as “The Witchfinders,” which examined sexism through the eyes of the Doctor, who’d only recently regenerated into a woman. Chibnall, who became Doctor Who’s new showrunner this year, said it’s “really important” to tell stories that reflect our modern society.

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“I think you want to be writing about the world that we live in. The show is not a standalone thing, it’s a response to the times that we’re living in and the world that we’re in,” Chibnall said. “When it comes to things that affect people’s lives—I think particularly things that children and young adults are going through—that feels really important.”

A subset of viewers have complained that the series is focusing too much on socio-political issues nowadays, although it hasn’t seemed to affect the ratings much. It also doesn’t track with the series’ history as a whole. Not only does Doctor Who have a long history of tackling issues of social justice and discrimination, but the character’s whole M.O. is about living for the common good, fighting for the rights of people and beings everywhere.

Doctor Who returns with a New Year’s Day special on January 1, 2019. The series is set to return in early 2020, with Jodie Whittaker and all her companions reprising their roles.

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