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BBC Announces “Doctor Who” Spinoff Series, “Class”

Young Adult-Themed Show to Air in 2016

Oct 01, 2015 Doctor Who
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The BBC has announced a new spinoff show from Doctor Who. It’s entitled Class and takes place at Coal Hill School, a location that dates back to the very first episode of Doctor Who back in 1963 and where current companion Clara Oswald is now a teacher. The project comes from acclaimed Young Adult writer Patrick Ness and is executive produced by Ness, Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat, and Brian Minchin.

The BBC describe the show as such: “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 the Vampire Slayer, The Hunger Games), this is Coal Hill School and Doctor Who like you’ve never seen them before.”

This is Ness’ first TV show. Moffat also commented on Class in a BBC press release: “No one has documented the dark and exhilarating world of the teenager like Patrick Ness, and now we’re bringing his brilliant story-telling into Doctor Who. This is growing up in modern Britain - but with monsters!”

Ness added: “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 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.”

Doctor Who has a history of spinoffs. In 1981 K-9 and Company spun-off Third and Fourth Doctor companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and the robotic dog K-9. Only one episode was produced, which aired as a special during the Christmas season but was not successful enough to warrant a full series. Torchwood emerged in 2006, spinning off from the relaunched Doctor Who and starring the character Captain Jack Harkness. It was much more adult than Doctor Who and was much more successful than K-9 and Company, lasting four seasons. Torchwood quietly faded away after its fourth season, which was a co-production between the BBC and the U.S. cable network Starz and was criticized for being too Americanized and not as strong as the previous seasons.

The Sarah Jane Adventures was launched in 2007 and brought back both Sladen as Smith and K-9. It aired on one of the BBC’s kids’ channels and was definitely aimed at younger audiences. The show lasted for five seasons and ended when Sladen passed away from cancer. Finally K-9 got his own show, simply titled K-9, that was produced in Australia and aired in 2009 and 2010. The BBC was not involved in the show and so it only had very loose connections to Doctor Who (K-9 co-creator Bob Baker had the rights to make his own K-9 show without the BBC, who passed on being involved). It was the most kid-friendly of the shows and also worst of them.

Adult Doctor Who fans will likely be skeptical of a young adult spinoff and will question why Torchwood wasn’t just brought back instead. We’ll see for ourselves if it’s any good in 2016, when it premieres. The first season will consist of eight 45-minute long episodes and will air in the U.K. on BBC Three (and will presumably air on BBC America in the U.S., where the episodes will be one hour long once commercials are added in). In the meantime, Doctor Who‘s ninth season has just begun and its third episode airs this Saturday on BBC America at 9 PM. Below are the very dated opening titles to 1981’s K-9 and Company.


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