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Ncuti Gatwa shines among the clunky culture-war posturing : Doctor Who, series 14, review

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Published Time: 11.05.2024 - 12:40:26 Modified Time: 11.05.2024 - 12:40:26

As the new series begins with Space Babies and The Devil’s Chord, the Disney budget is obvious – but so are Russell T Davies’s messages BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Natalie Seery After a Christmas episode of Doctor Who (BBC One/Disney+) properly introduced the new Time Lord Ncuti Gatwa, we’re down to business with a double-bill launching the new series

As the new series begins with Space Babies and The Devil’s Chord, the Disney budget is obvious – but so are Russell T Davies’s messages

: BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Natalie Seery

After a Christmas episode of Doctor Who (BBC One/Disney+) properly introduced the new Time Lord Ncuti Gatwa, we’re down to business with a double-bill launching the new series. The first, Space Babies, will delight an audience of under-10s. The second, The Devil’s Chord, might bore you to tears whatever your age.

Since Disney joined forces with the BBC to create the Whoniverse, the show has taken on a new tone: slick, expensive and nothing here to scare the horses. Mostly, there’s nothing here to scare anyone who has recently graduated from Bluey and Peppa Pig. The Doctor Who episodes that linger in my memory from childhood do so because they were unsettling – Logopolis, featuring “the Watcher”, terrified the life out of me. Now the show is so unthreatening that one of these episodes turns into a musical.

First, Space Babies (three stars). The Doctor and his companion, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), visit a space station populated by babies who can talk, and who zoom around the place in their buggies. It’s cuteness overload. The plot involves nappies and bogeys, which makes it fun for younger viewers but a bit cringe-worthy for adults. An entry-level episode in many ways, it has the Doctor explaining the basics to Ruby: he comes from Gallifrey, he has two hearts, the Tardis is a time-travelling machine based on the kind of police box we used to have on street corners, etc. (Indeed, Disney is marketing this series as “Season One”.)

: BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/James Pardon

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