Doctor Who: Chris Chibnall’s Approach To Spoilers Has Made The Show Exciting Again

The most obvious of these moments was the jaw-dropping cliffhanger in the first part of “Spyfall.” Prior to airing, a trailer was released which revealed that the Cybermen would return at some point in the twelfth season. Throughout “Spyfall”, the mysterious and ethereal Kassavans at times recall the imagery of ghostly Cybermen in the Tenth Doctor and Rose story “Army of Ghosts”. Airing on New Years Day, exactly one year after Chibnall brought back a surprise Dalek, audiences could be forgiven for thinking the Cybermen were behind the attacks on global intelligence. It was masterful misdirection that paid off when Sacha Dhawan’s O pretense fell to reveal the Doctor’s nemesis, the Master.

This proves that Chris Chibnall and his team are fully aware of the delicate balance between television appointment and promotion. For example, at the end of the 2022 New Year’s special, they revealed that, without prior warning, the Sea Devils would return in the next episode. Likewise, the trailer at the end of “Legend of the Sea Devils” revealed that ’80s sidekicks Tegan and Ace would return for Jodie Whittaker’s final episode. These reveals did more talking than the episodes themselves in the hours after they aired, but without prior promotion, or an already captive TV audience, they wouldn’t have been as exciting as they were. As Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker prepare to leave Doctor Whoit’s fair to say that they’ve reintroduced the shocks and surprises the show needs to continue to be essential viewing.


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The most obvious of these moments was the jaw-dropping cliffhanger to part one of “Spyfall”. Prior to airing, a trailer was released which revealed that the Cybermen would be back at some point in the twelfth season. Throughout “Spyfall” the mysterious, ethereal, Kassavans occasionally recall the imagery of the ghostly Cybermen in the Tenth Doctor and Rose story “Army of Ghosts”. Airing on New Year’s Day, exactly one year after Chibnall brought back a surprise Dalek, audiences could be forgiven for thinking the Cybermen were behind the attacks on global intelligence services. It was a masterful piece of misdirection that paid off handsomely when the pretense of Sacha Dhawan’s O fell away to reveal the Doctor’s arch-nemesis, the Master.
It proves that Chris Chibnall and his team are acutely aware of the delicate balance between appointment television and promotion. For example, at the end of 2022’s New Year’s special, they revealed that, without prior warning, the Sea Devils would return in the next episode. Similarly, the trailer at the end of “Legend of the Sea Devils” revealed that 80s companions Tegan and Ace would be returning for Jodie Whittaker’s last episode. These reveals were more talked about than the episodes themselves in the hours that followed their broadcast, but without prior promotion, or an already captive television audience, they wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting as they were. As Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker prepare to leave Doctor Who, it’s fair to say that they’ve reintroduced the shocks and surprises that the show needs to continue being essential viewing.

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