Doctor Who Season 12 Explained: BBC Responds To Fan Outrage Over The Finale

Jodie Whittaker is still the current Doctor in Doctor Who season 12, but in recent episodes they've introduced a brand new Doctor right alongside her.

By Liana Keane | Updated

doctor who season 12

Doctor Who season 12 is currently airing on television with season thirteen already locked in. In the United States you can catch episodes on BBC America or you can buy them streaming on Amazon.

The show may have peaked in the ratings around the end of David Tennant’s era and the start of Matt Smiths’ playing the character. But so far they’ve managed to keep their heads above water, changing out who’s playing The Doctor when the time for each actor comes to move on.

Currently in Doctor Who season 12 The Doctor is a woman for the first time ever in the character’s history. Actress Jodie Whitaker is Doctor Who’s current lead, after Peter Capaldi’s Doctor regenerated into her during the show’s 2017 Christmas special.

The Doctor Who Season Finale Changes The Show’s Entire History

The season finale of Doctor Who season 12 changed everything we know about the Doctor’s past. Now he/she/it isn’t from the planet Gallifrey anymore and there have been waaay more than just thirteen Doctors.

This change caused so much outrage among Doctor Who fans that the BBC, which has basically ignored all the other fan outrage over season 12, was at last forced to respond.

“Doctor Who is a beloved long-running series and we understand that some people will feel attached to a particular idea they have of the Doctor, or that they enjoy certain aspects of the programme more than others. Opinions are strong and this is indicative of the imaginative hold that Doctor Who has – that so many people engage with it on so many different levels.

We wholeheartedly support the creative freedom of the writers and we feel that creating an origin story is a staple of science fiction writing. What was written does not alter the flow of stories from William Hartnell’s brilliant Doctor onwards – it just adds new layers and possibilities to this ongoing saga.

We have also received many positive reactions to the episode’s cliff-hanger. There are still a lot of questions to be answered, and we hope that you will come back to join us and see what happens, but we appreciate that it’s impossible to please all of our viewers all of the time and your feedback has been raised with the programme’s Executive Producer.”

— BBC on Doctor Who Season 12’s Finale

In the Doctor Who season 12 finale we learn The Doctor is actually The Timeless Child. The Timeless Child is a foundling who fell through a wormhole and landed on the planet Gallifrey. There the Gallifreyans took it in and wipe its memory to keep its past a secret. The child had the unique ability to regenerate itself on death, so the Gallifreyans replicated that ability across their entire species.

Before having its memory wiped by the Gallifreyans the child had already regenerated and lived many different lives. Which means the William Hartnell version of The Doctor is no longer the first Doctor. And it means that this Doctor predates him…

Retconning The First Doctor

Jodie Whittaker is still the current Doctor in Doctor Who season 12, but in in S12 they introduced a brand new Doctor right alongside her.  She’s played by actress Jo Martin and she looks like this…

Doctor Who season 12's new doctor

She is The Doctor from a different time. At first most assumed that meant the current Jodie Whittaker Doctor will, at some point, regenerate into this Doctor. However, new rumors leaked from the show indicate that the plan for Doctor Who season 12 is to make this Doctor the first ever Doctor, pre-dating the William Hartnell version established as the first Doctor back when the show premiered in black and white way back in 1963.

Part of the origination of those rumors is a new look released at the inside of the Jo Martin Doctor’s TARDIS. It looks almost exactly like the sixties Hartnell version. Take a look…

For comparison, here’s a look inside the TARDIS of William Hartnell’s Doctor. previously known as the first Doctor.

First Doctor

The next few episodes of Doctor Who should confirm whether or not this is season 12’s intention. We’ll update this space as we find out for sure.

Plummeting Season 12 Ratings

Season 12

Recently ratings for the sci-fi series have plummeted, amidst ongoing complaints about increasingly weak writing and accusations that Doctor Who season 12 is now being used to push a political agenda. Despite good reviews from critics, the twelfth season’s ratings have nosedived from week to week.

Things didn’t get any better over the course of the season, not even for Doctor Who’s Season 12 finale episode. That episode, titled “The Timeless Children”, only managed 3.78 million viewers.

Worst of all, the shows before it and after it on the BBC did much better. Before Doctor Who, a show called Countryfile did 4.4 million viewers. Then viewers tuned out and Doctor Who aired to a smaller audience. Then viewers tuned back in to watch The Antiques Roadshow after Doctor Who, which managed an audience of 4.41 million viewers.

Those numbers mean that over 600,000 viewers turned off their televisions when Doctor Who started.

The show previously hit another ratings low during the week of February 9, 2020. The episode “Can You Hear Me?” pulled in only 3.81 million viewers. That’s a 160,000 drop just from the previous week’s episode. Overall that’s a drop of more than ONE MILLION viewers since the premiere episode of Doctor Who season 12. That’s right, more than 1/4 of Doctor Who’s viewers have abandoned the show since the current season premiered just a few weeks previously on January 1st.

Doctor Who season 12 has been the least watched season of the Doctor Who’s entire run, with recent episodes being viewed by only 4.6 million people, down from the 5 million plus the show was doing when Peter Capaldi was still playing The Doctor and waaay down from the 8 million viewers a week the show regularly recorded during Matt Smith and David Tennant’s eras of the character.

Audience Reception Of Doctor Who Season 12

Doctor Who Audience Scores

While Doctor Who season 12 has done alright with critics, it’s being absolutely destroyed by audiences.  Or at least it would be if they were allowed to post negative reviews of it. But some viewers are claiming the review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes is deleting their reviews.  

Here’s a sampling of just some of the claims from potential Doctor Who reviewers…

“About half of the reviews, including mine are gone. Rotten Tomatoes is doing their best to raise the user score and it keeps dropping to the low teens. This incarnation of Doctor Who is all preachy and holier that thou. Terrible writing. Terrible pacing and no originality. They keep borrowing from previous, better episodes. The companions are useless and forgettable. Half the time I can’t even remember their names. They need to return to one companion, or at most two.” – –RT User Tom N

“Where did my last two reviews go for the first 3 episodes, seems they got deleted. Well, i will post here again. The first 2 episodes were ok, spyfall 1 & 2. I thought doctor who would pull itself out of the swamp it got it self into in season 11 which was the worst i have ever seen. Well what did i watch in the last episode 3, Worst episode ever in the history of doctor who. Bad acting, poor plot, too many cast members running around with nothing to do. “- –Anonymous RT User

“I don’t think my review was ever even posted after I submitted it. Chibby needs to Giddy up on out. That’s the jist. His vision has clearly failed. This isn’t a matter of an audience unwelcoming towards change. It’s an issue of poorly written dialogue, a poorly casted ensemble, and a misunderstanding of the genre. And let’s be realistic, Doctor Who became it’s own genre over time. It has been misplaced, and that’s what’s off with this and the last. There’s nothing clever about any of Whittaker’s run so far. “- –Anonymous RT User

“Well, I’m disappointed that my original rating was removed for no justifiable reason. My grievances with the current running of the show are absolutely genuine, and as a fan of the series for over 2 decades, a follower of the audios and reader of the comics, I see no reason why my rating should be deemed fit for removal. I can only imagine that it was inconveniently rated too low, which is a fault of the show and how it is currently run, not a faulted opinion from myself! “- –Catherine R, RT User

“My rating keeps getting deleted, what the hell!? I’m a long time fan and Doctor who is my favorite show. I feel like this season doesn’t hit the mark. The writing is lackluster and they are ignoring continuity to repeat what has come before.”- –Anonymous RT User

If Rotten Tomatoes really is deleting user reviews in an effort to protect the show, it isn’t working. Doctor Who season 12 currently has a 13% positive rating, the lowest user rating any season of Doctor Who has ever had, by a large margin. And as of this writing, it’s continuing to drop lower and lower as more new, negative reviews are being posted. If they are deleting old negative reviews, then they aren’t being replaced by positive ones, just more negatives.

Is The Doctor Too Woke?

One of the big criticisms being leveled against the show by fans is that they believe the show is so focused on being “woke” that it isn’t worrying about things like plot and character. But Sacha Dwahan, who plays The Master in this incarnation of Doctor Who, isn’t buying it.

Dwahan fired back at fans complaining that the show is “too woke” saying… “You know, there’s this idea of ‘woke’, but I think [Doctor Who] has always thought outside the box, and it’s continued to embrace that, and continued to take it even further, to be honest.”

Basically Dwahan just redefined the term “woke” to try and make it sound even more heroic, rather than address whether the show is actually “too woke” or if that’s even a thing that can happen at all.

He goes on redefining by saying, “It’s almost considered that some of the decisions [the writers are] making is controversial, in some way. But it shouldn’t be seen like that. It’s just embracing real life, and multiculturalism, for instance, in real life. It’s got to challenge that as well, in one sense, and change people’s opinions, and get them thinking more. There’s no point being safe.”

Doctor Who Season 13

Doctor Who Season 12 and beyond

All indications are that despite sinking ratings Doctor Who will be back for season 13. The negativity around Doctor Who season 12 could have prompted them to make big changes and bring in a new actor or actress to play The Doctor, but it sounds like that won’t happen.

Actress Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she’ll be back as The Doctor for the thirteenth season. She says, “Yes, I’m doing another season… I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”