Ruby and the Doctor (via the BBC)

Wait … Is ‘Doctor Who’ Planning a Musical Episode?

It’s been seven long months since we got our last episode of Doctor Who, but we haven’t been lacking for new content. If anything, the BBC’s long running sci-fi series has seen a recent boom in online popularity, thanks to a whole slew of factors—including the casting of Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa and the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate. As the upcoming series of Doctor Who has puttered along in production, the BBC and Disney+ press teams have been flooding social media with sneak peeks of the new season. Though some on-set hints are easier to decipher than others, eagle-eyed Doctor Who fans think they’ve cracked the case on a particularly exciting episode of the new series that would make for a franchise first: a musical episode.

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Hold on—where did this idea of a musical episode come from? Though Who has its fair share of wacky villains and ridiculous episodes, they’ve never gone for a full-tilt musical episode before—even if we have gotten some iconic Britney Spears needle drops. While there hasn’t been a musical episode (yet), Doctor Who hasn’t shied away from trope-y episodes, either: we’ve seen body swaps, bottle episodes, and memory loss before, so who’s to say musicals aren’t next? The speculation certainly isn’t coming out of nowhere. It’s mostly based on recent casting announcements that seem to follow a particular pattern.

Doctor Who made waves last year when it announced that American multi-hyphenate Neil Patrick Harris would be joining the series in a significant role. Since then, they’ve announced two more American guest stars: drag performer Jinkx Monsoon and Broadway legend/Glee alum Jonathan Groff. Notice a pattern among those three casting choices? Reddit sure did. Not only are they all Americans, but Harris, Monsoon, and Groff all have extensive musical theatre experience, and have all appeared in a professional capacity on Broadway. One is an accident, two is a coincidence. But three times? It’s a pattern.

As one eagle-eyed Redditor pointed out, Groff’s Twitter casting announcement even includes a music-based pun—calling his casting a “high note,” which may just be a tongue-in-cheek reference to his storied Broadway career, but could also certainly be an easter egg for a potential musical episode or sequence down the line.

As with Harris’ casting, we don’t yet have concrete details about Groff and Monsoon’s roles in the show—how long they’ll be around, what characters they’re playing, or even if they’ll be sticking around for longer than a single episode. What we do have are plenty of behind-the-scenes and promotional photos, which feature some particularly exciting costumes that could lend credence to the musical episode theory. Jinkx Monsoon’s costume has fans particularly buzzy: her character sports a dramatic coat with piano key lapels and sleeves, which calls to mind the Music Meister in The Flash series. Is it possible that Monsoon’s villain could have some sort of sci-fi ability to make others burst into song?

Another major point in favor of a Doctor Who musical episode is the return of composer Murray Gold, who will be scoring the series for the first time since 2017’s “Twice Upon a Time.” Gold, of course, served as the composer for the entirety of returning showrunner Russell T. Davies’ tenure on the series, and the two will be reuniting for both the Tennant trio of specials and the new Gatwa series. What’s particularly notable about Gold is that he’s the only composer in Doctor Who history to write original songs (both music and lyrics) for the show, including “Song for Ten” in series 2 and “Love Don’t Roam” in series 3. Gold is no stranger to creating original tracks for the series, which would make him the perfect composer to turn to if Davies was looking to pull off a musical episode.

Admittedly, this could just be a string of very musically inclined coincidences, but it’s not a crime to hope that all these exciting casting announcements and behind-the-scenes tidbits might be leading up to a rare first in Doctor Who, and what would no doubt be an iconic episode.

(featured image: BBC)

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Lauren Coates
Lauren Coates (she/her)is a freelance film/tv critic and entertainment journalist, who has been working in digital media since 2019. Besides writing at The Mary Sue, her other bylines include Nerdist, Paste, RogerEbert, and The Playlist. In addition to all things sci-fi and horror, she has particular interest in queer and female-led stories. When she's not writing, she's exploring Chicago, binge-watching Star Trek, or planning her next trip to the Disney parks. You can follow her on twitter @laurenjcoates