Doctor Who: Witchfinders – Review

“Honestly, if I was still a bloke I could get on with the job and not have to waste time defending myself!”

It had to be addressed at one point in this series, and we visit another historical episode with witchcraft in 17th Century Lancashire, but the Doctor’s gender is tackled head on – for one key scene at least.

As you might expect there is an examination of what happens when people allow fear and paranoia into their lives while Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor finally gets to deliver a great Doctor-ish speech.

The plot is rather simple Doctor Who staple, but done well within the budgetary constraints on view and supported by a strong cast.

But it’s this week’s main guest star who steals the show – Alan Cumming as King James – a notable figure in the history of the witch trials.

His strong (if somewhat campy) performance lends extra gravitas to the tale even though the Doctor’s friends are virtually sidelined apart from brief support and the villains are forgettable (notable mention for Siobhan Finneran as Becka though).

And we finally get some more obvious jeopardy and stunt work in the series.

Having recently rewatched some of the earlier series of Doctor Who recently it’s impossible to ignore the reduction in budget for the show.

With just two episodes left in the current series, plus a special on New Year’s day, there’s been comparatively little money on the screen when compared to a single episode like “The Doctor’s Wife” from the Matt Smith era.

To be fair, though, there’s been a lot more location shooting going on in this season.

Next week we have Scandinavian locations for next week’s penultimate story – but the stories on the whole this season haven’t reached the narrative heights of recent years and the reduced effects budget doubles the perceived reduction in quality.