The new Doctor will have a new companion—and it’s someone surprising.
Several UK tabloids have reported on rumors that game show host Bradley Walsh will join Jodie Whittaker for the next season of Doctor Who.
Walsh currently hosts The Chase, an ITV quiz show, and he told Metro that he doesn’t plan to quit his day job just yet.
“As long as [The Chase continues] to ask me, I’ll continue to make it,” Walsh said. “I just love working, it doesn’t feel like work, it’s not a proper job really is it, and as long as it feels like that, I’ll continue to do it.”
And while Walsh didn’t confirm the Doctor Who rumors, sources purportedly close to the actor say that he’s excited to step onto the Tardis.
“Bradley is super excited to be joining the cast of Doctor Who in such a key role,” one source told Daily Mirror. “It means that his schedule over the coming months will be jam-packed—so he won’t be able to continue with the full range of programmes he currently makes for ITV.”
“But, crucially,” the source continued, “it won’t affect his role as presenter of The Chase. He loves that show with a passion and so does the audience, so he’s delighted to have found a way to make it all work.”
Some fans have reacted poorly to the rumors.
Walsh is a fairly high-profile figure in the United Kingdom, and some fans seemed disappointed and confused by the rumor.
Many noted that the new series seems to be changing many of the show’s classic elements at once. Whittaker, of course, will be the first female Doctor, and to many fans, it seems strange to pair her with a male companion who’s much older than her. Walsh is 57; Whittaker is 35.
Still, some noted that the casting decision could be a net positive. “Great news, no love sick teenager chasing the Doctor around the Tardis,” one fan wrote, referencing how several of the Doctor’s previous companions eventually became love interests.
For what it’s worth, Doctor Who’s showrunner is intentionally trying to shake things up. Chris Chibnall will inherit the show from former showrunner Steven Moffat, and in addition to his unorthodox casting decisions, he’ll be implementing an American-style writer’s room rather than trusting a single writer for each story.
“[The BBC] really had to woo me,” Chibnall said in an interview with Television. “But, in the end, I had ideas about what I wanted to do with [Doctor Who]. When I went to them and said, ‘This is what I would do’, I actually expected them to say, ‘Ooh, let’s talk about that,’ but they said: ‘Great!’”
Chibnall said the network was after risk and boldness, and he certainly has those qualities—his most famous BBC show, Broadchurch, received near-universal critical acclaim for its dark, complex writing.
We’ll have to wait quite a while to see whether Chibnall can deliver on his promise: the 11th season of Doctor Who will likely air sometime in autumn of 2018.