Proof that fan petitions definitely work! A mere 12 years after behind-the-scenes Doctor Who companion show Doctor Who: Confidential was cancelled due to BBC budget restraints, the powers that be have finally listened to all of our moaning and brought it back!
Or at least, they absolutely didn’t listen to all of our moaning, but Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies is in charge now and has Disney money to spend, so we’re finally getting a new documentary companion series. Hooray and huzzah for that.
Doctor Who: Unleashed is a 30-minute doc series that will air on BBC Three immediately after every new Doctor Who episode from November 2023, as well as being available to stream on BBC iPlayer (and presumably Disney+ around the world). David Tennant let the plans for this revival slip some time ago, but he’s forgiven – the man is spinning a lot of plates right now.
Instead of the Confidential-style voiceover from a Doctor Who-adjacent narrator (Simon Pegg, Anthony Head, Russell Tovey…), this one will have an on-screen host in the form of BBC Gaming Correspondent and former Radio One Newsbeat presenter Steffan Powell (pictured above with a fan of the show). Steffan hails from the Amman Valley in South Wales, and is a familiar voice on BBC Radio and a familiar face on Welsh-language television station S4C.
Here’s what Russell T Davies says about the new companion show:
“Over the years, I meet so many people who were inspired to find careers in TV, because of the behind-the-scenes material the BBC would show. And now it’s back, in the grand old tradition of Doctor Who Confidential, but in a brand new form, Unleashed! So a whole new generation – and faithful fans of old – can see what the stars and the crew get up to behind the cameras.”
And here’s what new host Steffan Powell has to say about his new gig:
“When you’re told Russell T Davies is asking for you to present a show, you say, ‘when does he want me?’ Doesn’t matter, I’ll be there…There’s a really fun and fascinating group of people bringing Doctor Who to life – I can’t wait for the audience to meet them. I’m so chuffed to have been trusted to help tell, in all its glory, the story of what goes into making the magic happen.”
The doc series producer Jo Pearce promises that the show will give the audience access all areas insights into the craft, production, and VFX of Doctor Who, alongside exclusive interviews with the cast and creators. Fingers crossed that will include some excellent candid footage of off-duty Zygons drinking cartons of Ribena through a tiny plastic straw, and Sontarans playing Candy Crush while they wait for the lighting set-up.
This isn’t just excellent news for Doctor Who fans in the UK. For six years, the UK was treated to six series plus specials of the original Doctor Who: Confidential, which ran for 30 and later, 45 minutes an episode between 2005 – 2011 and provided a comprehensive exploration of the skilled work and multiple teams that go into making the parent show. Fans in the US watching on Sci-Fi back in those days though, didn’t get it at all. BBC America only aired extremely cut-down versions, and it wasn’t until Doctor Who was picked up by PBS that it was available in full. Finally – a bit of parity for fans around the world.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Doctor Who Christmas isn’t it? Roll on November.
Doctor Who: Unleashed will air after episodes of Doctor Who on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer in the UK from November.