The Doctor Who universe has notoriously had bad luck with spinoffs. Torchwood was pretty great, but Class was a hard watch, and K-9 and Company was a laughable idea. The only one that really worked was The Sarah Jane Adventures, which simply retooled the Doctor Who model for a younger audience.
But now, in a new era of the series led by Russell T. Davies, the same showrunner who helmed the series’ initial reboot in 2005, another spinoff is getting a green light, and it’s something that has been a possibility for decades.
In January, Davies announced that spinoffs of Doctor Who would be developed under his watch, but it was unclear just what form they would take. Considering the series has spinoffs in children’s media, comedy, and animation, it seemed like they could go in any direction.
But Deadline confirmed that Davies will develop a television spinoff starring Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart, a longtime recurring character in Doctor Who and daughter of classic character Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, who became beloved throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Stewart, like her father, is the head of UNIT, the military organization assigned to work on extraterrestrial and paranormal threats to the Earth. Davies said the spinoff is “one of the greatest things I’ve ever made in my life.”
The series is yet another sign that Doctor Who is looking to replicate the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars multi-series universe model, building out several spinoffs that all interconnect. (The biggest sign is that Doctor Who, much like Marvel and Star Wars, will be available to U.S. audiences on Disney+. The other is that Davies himself has pitched a Marvel-style Doctor Who universe.)
A UNIT-focused spinoff in particular gives weight to this theory as well. UNIT is essentially the SHIELD of the Doctor Who universe: a group of non-powered characters who still protect the world from otherworldly threats through secret military activity. As Agents of SHIELD was one of the first Marvel TV shows, it makes sense as the first Doctor Who spinoff as well.
UNIT has been part of the Doctor Who universe for almost 50 years now, giving it its own story is long overdue, especially with a prestige actress like Jemma Redgrave playing a character with such a rich legacy that will resonate with long-time viewers.