Doctor Who is going back to the 1960s for Ncuti Gatwa’s first season, continuing an emerging theme from RTD’s second era as showrunner. The BBC revealed photos of Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in period costumes for an upcoming episode set during the 1960s, where they’ll face Jinkx Monsoon’s mysterious Doctor Who villain. The 1960s is an appropriate setting given that the show celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2023. On November 23, 1963, Doctor Who emerged during a period of post-war optimism in 1960s Britain, taking its place alongside other UK cultural icons like The Beatles and James Bond that reached huge global success.
By harking back to 1960s London with Ncuti Gatwa’s Swinging 60s look, RTD’s new era is going right back to Doctor Who‘s roots, continuing a self-referential trend in his new episodes. Airing almost 16 years after the final episode of the classic run aired, Davies’ first Doctor Who era was notably nostalgia-averse as he was keen not to alienate a new audience. Now that Doctor Who has been back on screens for longer than it had ever been away, RTD is now embracing the show’s extensive history, and the upcoming 1960s-set episode continues this trend.
Doctor Who’s 1960s Episode Continues RTD’s First Doctor Throwback
Rumors around Doctor Who in 2023 and beyond suggest some strong links to the show’s 1960s era: First Doctor era characters the Celestial Toymaker and the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan Foreman (Carole Ann Ford) have been rumored to return. On top of these, as yet, unverified rumors is Russell T Davies’ revelation that a future episode name-checks Hartnell era villain Mavic Chen, implying links back to Doctor Who‘s ambitious 1965 space opera, The Daleks’ Master Plan.
The stylish new outfits for the Doctor and Ruby Sunday are the most overt link to the 1960s yet. Having left Earth behind in 1963, the First Doctor largely missed the Swinging Sixties, barring a visit to London’s hottest nightspot, the Inferno Club, in the 1966 serial The War Machines. The grandfatherly figure of the First Doctor was conspicuous among the revelers, but the more stylish Fifteenth Doctor should fit right in when he and Ruby land in 1960s London during Doctor Who season 14.
Why Doctor Who Visiting The 1960s Is A Big Deal
The return to the 1960s is an ideal opportunity for Doctor Who to reflect upon where it’s been and where it’s going. Returning to the period of Doctor Who‘s genesis six decades later is a good way to interrogate 60s nostalgia, something previously done in the Seventh Doctor story, Remembrance of the Daleks. Written by Ben Aaronovitch, the serial tackled racism in 60s Britain, in a story about a Dalek civil war and their allies – a British group of fascist sympathizers. Over 30 years after Remembrance aired, extremist politics in the UK is still a depressingly topical subject, and the 60s setting allows Doctor Who to scratch beneath the glamorous surface of the Swinging Sixties.
The Chris Chibnall era did something similar when it took the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her TARDIS team to the America of the 1950s. Although comparatively recent in regard to the genesis of Doctor Who, the racial tensions, and the Jim Crow laws made 50s America one of the most hostile and dangerous historical environments the Doctor and their companions had ever experienced. It will be fascinating to see what the experiences of the Doctor and Ruby are when they return to London in the Swinging Sixties and the location for the very early years of Doctor Who.