‘Doctor Who’ Series 11 Blu-ray Review: Jodie Whittaker Is the Face of a New Generation

     March 3, 2019


Doctor Who: The Complete Eleventh Series, now available on Blu-ray, introduced Jodie Whittaker as the series’ 13th Doctor, and the first female lead for the long-running sci-fi show. New and returning fans alike will find a lot to love in Whittaker’s performance and the many and varied stories this new cast of characters tackles throughout the season. Also starring Bradley Walsh (Coronation Street), Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Mandip Gill (The Flood), Doctor Who carries on the proud tradition of the series in the 11th run, a perfect addition to your home video collection.

The three-disc set includes all 10 episodes from the recent series, with “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” kicking things off and ending with “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos.” Sharp-eyed fans will note that the series release does not include either the lead-in episode/Christmas special “Twice Upon a Time”, which features Peter Capaldi‘s last hurrah as the Doctor, nor does it include “Resolution”, 2019’s New Year’s special. The Blu-ray set boasts a ton of bonus content, however, most of which can be found in the curated episode commentaries; more content can be found throughout the three-disc collection in the form of featurettes and fun behind-the-scenes peeks with the cast and crew. The episodes themselves are absolutely worth a watch (and rewatch), while the bonus content makes the Series 11 Blu-ray an easy buy for fans of the series.


Image via BBC America

Here’s a look at the special features you’ll get, followed by our more detailed breakdown below:

  • Commentary Tracks
  • Closer Looks
  • Cast Video Diaries
  • Becoming the Doctor
  • Regenerating Doctor Who
  • Directing Doctor Who
  • Friends of the Doctor
  • Everything You Need to Know about the TARDIS
  • Making the Theme Tune
  • Best of Social

Whether it’s your first time watching Doctor Who or just the latest experience in a long line of fantastic sci-fi stories, the eleventh series honors the show’s core identity and brings it into contemporary times in a big way. Obviously, Whittaker taking on the title role is a huge step forward for the franchise, but the supporting cast goes a long way toward bringing some fresh faces to the screen as well. Alongside Whittaker’s Doctor are Walsh’s “grandad” Graham O’Brien with Cole’s bicycle-challenged Ryan Sinclair and Gill’s law enforcement officer Yasmin Khan. This team-up pairs two young people of color with the 58-year-old Walsh as they assist the recently descended Doctor, making for four leading roles that defy the standard demographics.

More than “diversity for diversity’s sake”, Doctor Who uses its cast of fully fleshed-out characters to play up some social commentary. The most obvious case is in the third episode of the season, “Rosa”, in which the team travels to Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 and end up playing a part in Rosa Parks’ famous stand for civil rights. Rather than just hit viewers over the head with the importance of the story, they work in side stories for their characters as people of color who find themselves out of sorts in a highly racist environment. Or there’s the episode “Demons of the Punjab” where Yasmin gets a chance to reconnect with her grandmother during the violent partitioning of India and Pakistan, a story which has both a personal and a national focus at the same time. The episodes don’t dig too deeply into the thematic material but do a serviceable job of telling familiar tales and historical truths from a new point of view.

But that’s not to say it’s all historical fiction and no sci-fi fun; far from it. There are giant spiders, literal witch hunts, deadly games on alien planets, and android servants with an ax to grind. In other words, there’s a lot of fun to be had in these 10 episodes. And if you want to take a deeper dive still, there’s a lot of bonus material for you to enjoy.


Image via BBC America

Disc 1:


“The Woman Who Fell to Earth” – Director Jamie Childs and star Jodie Whittaker offer commentary.

  • The opening sequence of Cole as Ryan Sinclair on his YouTube video was shot on Childs’ iPhone.
  • The pair revisit their memories of the shoot and offer behind-the-scenes commentary as to the weather conditions at the time, the amount of visual effects needed for the scenes, and insight into each actor’s methodology.
  • A version of the Doctor’s mini-speech to Ryan and Yasmin on the train was part of Whittaker’s audition.
  • Whittaker, as a fan of Doctor Who herself, hates when social media ruins the secrets of their production shoots before people even get to see the episode.
  • The scene with the glowing entity that floats up out of the Doctor was a nod back to David Tennant‘s performance as the character.
  • They praise Samuel Oatley‘s performance as Tim Shaw/Tzim-Sha, especially in the table read stage when they first heard his “villain” voice.
  • The first group shot of them all together is when they’re looking over Rahul’s dead body.
  • Whittaker did the actual welding for the montage scene in which the Doctor makes a new sonic device.
  • The Doctor’s rooftop monologue before meeting the warrior was “the hardest thing to shoot” for Whittaker; it was five pages long, full of jargon, and had plenty of action beats in it.
  • Whittaker’s first dialogue scene was the shot atop the crane with Yasmin and Ryan. The same goes for Cole and Gill in the operator’s cabin of the crane itself.
  • Whittaker also did her own stunt jump between the cranes. Cole wanted to do his own stunts when falling off his bike, but they only had the one hero costume for him.
  • The Doctor’s Swiss Army Sonic actually has a Sheffield Steel stamp on it.
  • The final shot of the team in the vacuum of space was done by suspending them upside-down from ropes in the studio to get the shot.

doctor-who-season-11-bluray-review“Rosa” – Commentary comes from writer Malorie Blackman, star Mandip Gill, and producer Alex Mercer.

  • The episode opens with Rosa Parks’ favorite hymn sung by a gospel choir.
  • The opening scene is meant to suggest just how long Parks, and people like her, have been struggling in a racist community and country. By the time the Doctor and the Companions arrive, decades worth of persecution have already taken place.
  • The trio talks about the amount of research they had to do in order to get Parks’ story right as well as the culture of the time and place.
  • Most of the exteriors in “Montgomery, Alabama” were shot in South Africa at various locations.
  • Do you know what the suitcase’s initials G.F.B. stand for? Neither does the commentary team, but they were pleased by the suggestion of “Great Face of Boe.”
  • Rosa’s costume is made from the same fabric that the actual historical figure’s outfits were made of, and actor Vinette Robinson‘s hair and make-up were historically and period-appropriate as well.
  • The creative team wanted to add more historical context to the story, like more of Parks’ work with the civil rights movement and more with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., but there simply wasn’t time in the final edit.
  • Asteroid 284996 Rosaparks is actually named for the civil rights icon.

Closer Looks – Behind-the-scenes featurettes


Image via BBC America

“The Woman Who Fell to Earth”

  • Director Jamie Childs, star Jodie Whittaker, and executive producer Matt Strevens show viewers how they pulled off the Swiss Army Sonic construction scene in Rahul’s workshop.
  • Production designer Arwel Wyn Jones wanted to marry industrial with sci-fi for the final product, which includes Sheffield Steel from melted down spoons and knives. The crystal the Doctor uses to finish it off was from the Warrior’s transport pod.
  • The montage is used to show that the Doctor is a “can-do” sort, but is also a bit chaotic at the moment since she’s still regenerating.
  • The creative team keeps figuring out new uses for the Sonic, so expect them to get even more liberal with its abilities as the story continues.

“The Ghost Monument”

  • Whittaker, Gill, and Sinclair talk about their characters’ reactions to appearing on Epzo’s spaceship, far from the home they knew. Epzo himself, Shaun Dooley, adds his own take on the hectic, five-page scene.
  • Strevens also walks viewers through the scene, which they shot in one take under Mark Tonderai‘s direction.


  • Whittaker, Walsh, Gill, Cole, Strevens and showrunner Chris Chibnall comment on “mixing history with the world of Doctor Who.”
  • They talk about the hotel scene in which racial conflicts and the law enforcement procedures of the time build a lot of tension in the story. But a big part of the scene has to do with adding some comedic beats into the drama, as well.

Image via BBC America

“Arachnids in the UK”

  • Chibnall, Strevens, Whittaker, Gill, and Cole comment on the characters’ decision of whether or not to return to the TARDIS and continue their travels with the Doctor.

Video Diaries – Cute, one-minute, behind-the-scenes videos featuring some of the cast and crew.

“Bradley on a Train”

  • Walsh and the crew pocket a couple of snacks while onboard a train in Wales.

“Mandip’s South Africa Video Diary”

  • Mandip and Ryan talk about the hot weather on location in South Africa, but the whole cast agreed not to complain after the previous cold-weather shoots.


“Becoming the Doctor”

  • Whittaker walks viewers through her own personal journey toward becoming the Doctor, along with Chibnall, Strevens, casting director Andy Pryor.
  • Once the casting was solidified, the production team had to announce the big change in the summer of 2017. The reveal was done through a video shot by director Jamie Childs. Neither Childs nor Whittaker’s own family knew she was the doctor until her hood came down in the video.
  • The next mini-featurette shows off the 13th Doctor’s new wardrobe, courtesy of Whittaker and costume designer Ray Holman. The color of her clothes represent the many and varied colors of the sky, while her earring represents space, her journey to Earth, and the meeting of aliens and humanity. Violet and green were the colors of the Suffragettes, but because the show avoids green on screen when possible (due to green screen visual effects replacements), Holman sewed the colors into the coat’s sleeves instead.
  • This series is less about “Companions” and more about the Doctor’s friends. Walsh, Cole, and Gill weigh in on their characters here, by way of introducing them.

Image via BBC America

“Regenerating Doctor Who”

  • New showrunner Chibnall is spotlighted here with commentary by Whittaker, Walsh, Gill, Cole, Strevens, co-executive producer Sam Hoyle and Chibnall himself to talk about the new take on the series.
  • Strevens says that the 13th Doctor was “more of a rebirth than a regeneration.” This Doctor was described as an adventurer in the casting process, someone who’s delighted when coming across something new or interesting.
  • The new Doctor comes with new companions/friends, which series producer Nikki Wilson and others weigh in on as well.
  • And with a new Doctor comes a new Sonic device, which
  • Production designer Arwel Wyn Jones comments on here as well.

“Directing Doctor Who”

  • Director Childs talks about buying model cranes upon arriving in Cardiff, Wales in order to set up his big action sequence in the very first episode of the new season.
  • Whittaker and the cast and crew talk about Childs’ work ethic on set and how he pulled off the first epic episode, including a stunning stunt sequence.

Disc 2:


doctor-who-season-11-bluray-review“The Tsuranga Conundrum”

  • Gill, Ben Bailey-Smith/Doc Brown (who played Durkas Cicero), Suzanne Packer (who played Eve Cicero), and series producer Nikki Wilson offer commentary.
  • The opening shot of the episode was actually done in a junkyard/landfill and filled in with green-screen backgrounds.
  • If sets look like they’re used over and over again on the show, such as inside the medical facility they arrive in, you’re right; the production reuses as much as possible.
  • The production team borrowed a “pregnancy bump” from the BBC series Casualty as well.
  • Bailey-Smith and Walsh starred together on Law & Order: UK and got to have a few fun scenes together in this episode.
  • The Pting was always conceived of as “sort of a space toddler.”
  • The pulsing light fixture in the middle of the room towards the end of the episode had to be manipulated into motion in post, frame by frame.
  • In the scene where Gill has to dropkick the Pting, she slipped on the floor during one of the takes.
  • The airlock door actually opens twice when venting the Pting into space, once in the reflection and once in the exterior shot.

doctor-who-season-11-bluray-review“Demons of the Punjab”

  • Gill, producer Alex Mercer, Shane Zaza (who played Prem), and director Jamie Childs lead the commentary.
  • It’s captured in the bonus features, but there’s a great conversation about Cole’s mishap on set where he accidentally fell off a cart.
  • The look of the demons was created through a combination of Hindu myths and a Doctor Who twist. The final look was actually toned down a bit from the first concept art.
  • The episode aired, coincidentally, on Remembrance Day.
  • A lot of research went into the Henna designs, materials, and method of application to authentically replicate it by 1947’s standards.
  • They also researched what would happen if a planet was destroyed by natural processes, determining what elements would be left behind in its wake.
  • The vocalist performing the song during Prem’s death scene was able to record it in just one take.

Closer Look

“The Tsuranga Conundrum”

  • Jack Shalloo (who played the pregnant Yoss) and Lois Chimimba (who played Mabli) talk about the surreal experience of male pregnancy, while Cole comments on playing doulas with Walsh.
  • Strevens comments on Graham and Ryan’s contentious relationship and how they get to bond in this bizarre moment. Chibnall also talks about Ryan overcoming his own difficulties with his absentee father.

doctor-who-season-11-bluray-review“Demons of the Punjab”

  • Shot in the south of Spain to double for India, writer Vinay Patel introduces viewers to the location shoot. The arid landscape also happened to lead up to the snowcapped mountains in the Sierra Nevada range, doubling for the Himalayas.
  • Shane Zaza (who plays Prem) talks about the importance of this episode and the history of the Partition between India and Pakistan.
  • The scene in question for this featurette sees Prem transporting the Doctor and her Companions on his cart to see Yasmin’s family. Strevens talks about the unique opportunity that moment offered.
  • Here’s where you can watch Cole fall off the ox cart (again … and again).


  • The cast and crew weigh in on the creepy Kerblam man.
  • The fez is a nod back to Matt Smith‘s version of the Doctor.
  • Chibnall talks about the fun of telling a “creepy workplace story” with the beautifully designed delivery bots. It’s a take on the blue-collar workers employed in massive warehouses for low wages and poor conditions, but also competing with a robotic and computerized workforce.

“The Witchfinders”

  • The cast and crew talk about this time-traveling episode that places them in the midst of 17th century witch trials. Beneath the dark comedy that’s present here is a story about how women were treated then and how they continue to be treated now.
  • There’s a great behind-the-scenes sequence showing how they pulled off the “ducking/dunking” shot. It also shows off the muddy, rainy, freezing conditions the cast and crew had to undergo.
  • There’s a take of the final scene that starts in “glorious sunshine” and, by the third take, the landscape is covered in snow. Chibnall reveals that they couldn’t edit around it and had to reshoot the scene.
  • Gill and Cole call it the hardest episode they’ve had to film. Whittaker had to fight against reacting to the cold while also acting like she was freezing, and finding that perfect balance.

doctor-who-series-11-bluray-reviewDisc 3:

Closer Looks

“It Takes You Away”

  • Strevens talks about the “quite quirky” spooky woodland story that should make viewers feel “odd” while watching it.
  • Ellie Wallwork (who plays Hanne) joins the featurette to talk about the strange monstrous beast who’s stalking her character, a young girl who’s been left alone by her father.
  • It’s a short featurette, but it highlights Wallwork’s abilities as an actor and the production team’s decision to cast a blind actor for the role.

“The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”

  • Whittaker and Co. talk about the final episode of the season, in which the planet itself causes their characters to lose their memories.
  • Tzim-Sha returns here and the characters want to exact their revenge while they have the chance. This puts the Companions at odds with the Doctor.


“Friends of the Doctor”

  • Short featurette with the cast singing praises for Whittaker’s take on the Doctor.

doctor-who-series-11-bluray-tardis“Everything You Need to Know about the TARDIS”

  • A look at the new TARDIS with production designer Arwel Wyn Jones.
  • The decision was to keep it analog and “hands on” for Whittaker, who likes physically interacting with the console and manipulating pieces of it.
  • The “functional, practical” TARDIS is powered by a central focusing crystal.
  • The pattern of the wall is partially fractal, but also mimics “crown shyness” in tree branches to leave gaps.
  • There’s a custard creme dispenser activated by a lever to deliver Whittaker’s favorite biscuit.

“Making the Theme Tune”

  • Composer Segun Akinola walks viewers through the creation of a brand new theme tune for the eleventh series.
  • The new song takes elements of the series from as far back as Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire‘s inspirational work as well as new, modern music by Rag’n’Bone Man and Adele, and “found” sounds.
  • Akinola was inspired by Chibnall’s hopeful take on the material and Whittaker’s optimistic energy that she brings to the Doctor.

“Best of Social”

  • ‘Dancing with the Doctor’ is a fun little featurette that takes a peek behind the scenes to see the cast dancing in between takes and setups.
  • ‘The Arm Wrestling Challenge’ sees Walsh announcing an arm wrestling match between Gill and Whittaker. Spoiler alert: Whittaker wins!
  • ‘Tosin Cole: Stuntman Extraordinaire’ reveals Cole’s bike-riding sequence … and the stuntman who also performed the series of bike-riding crashes.
  • ‘Snacking’ takes a look at the crafty side of the production, especially concerning biscuits.
  • ‘The Accent Challenge’ pits Gill and Whittaker against each other to see who has the better pronunciation of various worldly accents, characters, and series.
  • ‘Singing on Set’ is a nice pairing with the dancing featurette since it shows off the cast’s singing talent … or lack thereof.

Here’s the official synopsis for the latest series of Doctor Who:

Meet the new Doctor. The universe just got more exciting.

The dazzling Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker, Broadchurch, Wired) falls out of the sky just in time to thwart an alien huntsman who is stalking human prey. With little time to spare and the population of Sheffield (and Earth!) at risk, the Doctor recruits three new friends – gentle Ryan, no-nonsense Yasmin, and Ryan’s step-grandfather, Graham – who soon feel more like family than companions. Join the foursome in ten fresh and enormously thrilling roller-coaster adventures across time and the universe.


Image via BBC America