Why Cold, Dark Autumn Nights Are Perfect For Doctor Who Series Eight

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The wait is almost over. On the 23rd August, Doctor Who will be back on our screens for an entire twelve-episode run, before returning a month later for the standard Christmas special. Series opener ‘Deep Breath’ will be broadcast while the summer sun is still shining. But as series eight continues, the days will go shorter, darker and altogether grimmer as autumn descends upon us. And for Doctor Who, that is the perfect atmospheric accompaniment.

After all, Moffat brought us the gas mark boy, the Vashta Nerada, Silence, Whisper Men and the Weeping Angels. Isn’t a cold wet night huddled in front of the TV, kids peering anxiously through open fingers (or behind the sofa), the best place for the stuff of nightmares?
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In the Russell T Davies era, the Doctor Who was big, bold and flashy and the show fit well with the period between Easter and the summer holidays. But under Steven Moffat, the show has grown considerably darker, arguably better for it. With the rumoured ‘Classic era’ feel for Peter Capaldi’s debut series, a flashy summer opening and a dark post-Halloween finale is a far better setting. What better way to build the menace behind a big bad then with the jet black night sky outside your window?

The new schedule also mirrors that of the classic era. Doctor Who began in November and the majority of the black and white era ran from September or October and on through the winter months. The Pertwee, Baker and Davison years always flitted from January or September start dates and the final four years always broadcast in the autumn. It’s a model series eight will employ too.

While there is always time for Doctor Who, bright spring / summer sunshine doesn’t always mould itself to the atmosphere of the show. Can you imagine the Frankenstein-like lair of Solon in The Brain Of Morbius or the mist-shrouded lighthouse from Horror Of Fang Rock if they had been broadcast on a bright summer’s day?
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The chances are The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances two-parter, or the more recent Hide, would have been a totally different experience first time round, if they had been broadcast on a rainy cold autumn night. If I were Neil Cross, I would be gutted that my haunted house scare-fest hadn’t been broadcast in October.

Assuming we don’t get any breaks, episodes eleven and twelve, Moffat’s two-part series finale, will take place on the 1st and 8th November respectively. With Halloween still fresh in our minds, we can have darkness, scares and shocks galore. If we’re really lucky, we’ll have rain pounding the windows as we huddle next to the fire.
Okay, perhaps I’m over doing it on the atmospheric scale, but the potential is there.

Of course the show has to live up to that potential. There will be those who still lament the loss of David Tennant and complain that Moffat went over complicated and turned Doctor Who into the Amy Pond / River Song show. With Moffat rumoured to stick with Doctor Who until at least the end of series nine, chance are they won’t be converted. But if like me, you loved the mystery of the silence, River Song and Trenzalore, then in Moffat we trust.

Moffat and his very capable cast. Jenna Coleman has already proven herself companion Clara Oswald and Peter Capaldi looks set to bring a very Classic era Pertwee style edge to the role of the Doctor. If we can have that ‘Charles Dance is the Master’ rumour come true as well, that would be just perfect. These are exciting times to be a Doctor Who fan. The next seven weeks are going to be a long wait indeed!

Last updated: 19/04/2018 23:09:19

Doctor Who

The long-running BBC TV science fiction series that started in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 2017 saw Peter Capaldi regenerate into the show's first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. The Thirteenth Doctor's first season debuts in 2018, with Chris Chibnall replacing Steven Moffat as the current showrunner.

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