Doctor Who fourth wall

Inside the wild theories on why Doctor Who is now constantly breaking the fourth wall

Something’s shifted and fans have noticed


Doctor Who returned in glorious fashion this weekend as Ncuti Gatwa’s era is the Doctor began in full, with Millie Gibson in tow as new companion Ruby Sunday – and fans have all got a theory about one big change to the tone of the show that keeps coming back to characters consistently breaking the fourth wall. It’s something not really done before, so what’s going on and why is it happening often in recent episodes?

Right: What’s going on?

Just in case you don’t know: Breaking the fourth wall is where a character actively addresses the audience or looks directly into the camera, breaking the immersion of the story and making the cast address the fact they’re making a TV show. The fourth wall was first broken when Anita Dobson’s mysterious character in the Christmas special addressed the camera right at the very end.

This wasn’t a one off, though – as the second episode of the new series The Devil’s Chord proved. Firstly, Jinkx Monsoon’s excellent villain Maestro plays the opening bars of the theme tune in the cold opening before the title sequence begins. In a later scene, dramatic music plays that feels like the score and the Doctor says “I thought that was non-diegetic.” Non-diegetic music is soundtrack and score that can’t be heard by characters and then diegetic is something within the show, like if a character turned the radio on.

All of these fourth wall breaking instances are out of the ordinary for Doctor Who – and it’s divided fans who are speculating on what it all might mean and can’t come to a consensus on if they approve.

The theory on why Doctor Who keeps breaking the fourth wall is that it might be intentional and be a result of what happened in Flux and the 60th specials, and tie into something bigger as the season goes on.

One fan wrote: “Whatever the Flux and 14’s salt have done, it’s really f*** up the universe. Butterfly effects, memory manifestations, diegetic music, constant fourth wall breaks and a Pantheon of Gods. This is not the same universe as ‘The Star Beast’.”

I need answers! As a long time viewer, it definitely seems like a shift.

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