Most of episode one, as is usual, is spent on the companions (yes, companions plural!). First there’s Ryan (Tosin Cole), a teenager with dyspraxia, who introduces the episode with a YouTube blog. Then there’s his step-grandfather, retired bus-driver Graham (Bradley Walsh), as well as Ryan’s old school mate and emerging police officer Yasmin (Madip Gill). They end up on a stopped train, and discover an electric floating ball of tangled tubes heading straight for them. And who should fall straight from the sky and through the roof of the carriage – it’s the Doctor (Whittaker) herself, here to save the day (again).
Never has Sheffield looked so cinematic, with a wider aspect ratio and some bright, colourful sci-fi visuals. There is also a more surreal edge: like when Ryan discovers what looks like a massive decorative pot in the middle of the forest, or when the group’s collarbones suddenly start blinking.
Like with every transition between showrunners, Chris Chibnall flaunts a shiny new look that Russell T Davies could’ve only dreamt of when he rebooted the series in 2005. If there’s any series that can show how far TV has come in this millennium, it’s Doctor Who.
Jodie Whittaker is excellent as the new Doctor, being hard-nosed and fun with a morally brilliant edge (‘Only idiots carry knives!’). We haven’t seen nearly enough of her or her new personality to judge properly, but there's a Tennant-like energy that promises to expand.
This first episode, named The Woman Who Fell to Earth (paying homage to the Nic Roeg film), is a promising leap for series 11. There are a few imperfect moments, namely in the character explanations which feel quickly inserted into the dialogue, but they’re easy to ignore when so much is going on. It's emotional as well as scary, which are both vital components of the show, and the rest of the series aims to match it. Series 11 is off to an electrifying start.
|What||Doctor Who series 11 premiere review|
|Where||BBC One, BBC One | MAP|
On 07 Oct 18, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM