An animated series is on fans’ wishlists, and as Doctor Who begins its sixth decade with a Disney distribution deal, it can become a reality.

Russell T Davies’ new era allows for Doctor Who to embrace the format of an animated series, fulfilling the promise of a pitch from the 1980s. David Tennant’s Doctor Who era featured two animated stories, The Infinite Quest, which was serialized on the Children’s BBC show Totally Doctor in 2007, and Dreamland, which aired on the BBC in December 2009. These exceptions aside, Doctor Who has never had a designated animated spinoff series, something that feels like a missed opportunity.

It’s likely that, as a public broadcaster, the BBC hasn’t been able to justify the costs of an animated Doctor Who spinoff as their funding is increasingly squeezed. The co-production deal with Bad Wolf and Disney will alleviate some of those budgetary concerns. That’s not to say that the new co-production will be immune to the constraints of being tied to a public broadcaster. Concerns by the BBC eventually led to the possible animated Doctor Who series from Nelvana being abandoned in the early 1990s. Doctor Who‘s history of aborted animated adaptations goes back further than this, with the most interesting of these abandoned projects being a 1984 series from the creators of Scooby-Doo.

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RTD Can Fix Doctor Who’s Missed 1984 Animated Series Opportunity

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and Tom Baker as Doctor Who

According to Vworp Vworp! magazine, in 1984, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, the creative force behind Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! were approached by a talent agent, in relation to a potential Saturday morning cartoon series based on Doctor Who. In the 1980s, the show wasn’t as well-known in America as it is today, or will be following Doctor Who‘s Disney deal. Doctor Who aired on various network affiliates of PBS from the late 1970s to 1990s and gathered a small but dedicated audience across the United States as a result.

It’s easy to see why agent Joey Thompson thought Ruby and Spears were a good fit for Doctor Who. In the ’80s, PBS were mostly screening episodes from the early years of the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) era, which, like Scooby-Doo was hugely influenced by horror cinema, and also deftly balanced comedy with scares. Sadly, a Scooby-Doo-style Doctor Who cartoon inspired by Tom Baker’s era never got much further than Ruby-Spears’ initial interest in the project due to a lack of faith in it as a marketable property for kids. Now that Doctor Who has a bigger budget, and a distribution deal with the Walt Disney corporation, home to the most famous animation studio in the world, it’s surely time to prove those 1980s nay-sayers wrong.

What A Modern Doctor Who Animated Series Should Be About

Strax, Vastra and Jenny, Doctor Who's Paternoster Gang

Taking Scooby-Doo as an example, there’s a great deal of potential in a cartoon focused on the Paternoster Gang, Doctor Who‘s very own Victorian Scooby Gang, created by Steven Moffat. The inter-species line-up of Silurian Madam Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her human wife Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), and Sontaran nurse Strax (Dan Starkey) is tailor-made for an animated series. A hand-drawn animation style could really bring out the evocative Victorian settings and ghostly goings on. Alternatively, RTD could copy Star Trek for his approach to a Doctor Who animated series.

A series about lowly UNIT operatives cleaning up after weekly alien incursions would be an ideal vehicle for the irreverence and love of the source material that makes Star Trek: Lower Decks such a joy. The Whoniverse’s answer to Star Trek: Prodigy could borrow from The Sarah Jane Adventures with Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) leading a group of young, hungry alien hunters in a kid-friendly version of Torchwood. The possibilities for Doctor Who animated spinoffs are endless, and they prove just what an exciting era the show is entering into in its sixth decade.

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