With the 60th Anniversary episodes now over and we wait impatiently for The Church on Ruby Road Christmas Special, the biggest question on the fandom’s mind is what is bi-generation and what does it mean for Doctor Who canon?
In my review of The Giggle I raved about how brilliant I thought it was, but did hint (not subtly) that I was initially unsure about the concept of bi-generation. I heard about this twist from the leaks before the episode aired, but was pleasantly surprised when Ncuti Gatwa’s 15th Doctor popped out like an amoeba and grinned at David Tennant’s 14th Doctor.
I think that this bi-generation not only works, but it fixes many of the smaller canon issues since 2005 and wraps this 18-year phase of the show in a neat little bow. It feels like we can move forwards with the 15th Doctor, knowing all their troubles are behind them.
If you have watched the commentary episode on BBC iPlayer, you will know that Russell T Davies said he liked to think that every version of the Doctor up to 14 also bi-regenerated at the same time as 14. This would mean that there were a lot of copies of the Doctor in the world.
On the face of it, this is a strange and unsatisfying conclusion that makes little sense, but Davies goes on to say that they all exist in a little “Doctorverse”, flying around in their TARDISes. I think this means we don’t have to worry about seeing them again, as they are off in a multiverse somewhere else. It does, however, explain the older appearances of previous Doctors in some of the specials over the past 18 years.
My final point is that this bi-generation is something that has never been done before in Doctor Who and that is what we need to keep the show fresh! The Timeless Child was another exciting idea, but the execution left a lot of questions unanswered, and the payoff did not feel earned, so a lot of the fandom don’t really like it (me included).
The great thing about The Timeless Child, along with the half-human debacle of the 1996 movie, is that Russell T Davies also sorted those out too, wrapping them up nicely and putting them on the shelf of never to be heard from again. He did this by having the Toymaker indicate that he has been messing around in the Doctor’s life/timeline, so we can explain away a few canon issues like The Timeless Child, while still holding it close to our hearts if that is what we want to do.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, because we won’t be hearing from these previous issues again; the show is getting a soft reboot, so we can respect the past but move on and see what exciting places the Doctor will take us to in the coming series.