When Doctor Who returns to television later this month, it will have a new face in more ways than one. The incoming Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, will get a revamped opening-title sequence that was originally designed by a fan of the show for his own amusement.
Billy Hanshaw is a freelance motion-graphics designer in the northern English city of Leeds who, up to now, has mainly worked on commercials and corporate presentations. After Capaldi’s casting as the new Doctor Who star was announced in 2013, Hanshaw was inspired to spend a month putting together a mockup of a new title sequence “to challenge myself,” he said on his website. After he posted it to YouTube, it quickly went viral, garnering more than 700,000 hits and writeups from Radio Times, Huffington Post, and other media sites. It eventually attracted the notice of showrunner Steven Moffat, who liked it well enough to ask the BBC’s graphics department to make an official version based on Hanshaw’s work. Speaking at a press conference to promote the upcoming season, Moffat said, “It was the only new title idea I’d seen since 1963. We got in touch with him, and said, okay, we’re going to do that one.”
Hanshaw’s animation elaborates on the time-tunnel concept that has been used in Doctor Who’s title sequence since the early 1970s, adding clockwork gears and a spiral design based on a watch face. He also adds a couple of iconic images from earlier Doctor Who seasons—the fob watch seen in David Tennant’s “Human Nature” and “Utopia,” and the Great Seal of Rassilon, first used as the symbol of the Doctor’s home planet in 1976’s “The Deadly Assassin.”
The final, slightly revised version of the new titles will debut when the new season’s first episode, “Deep Breath,” broadcasts on Aug. 23. Here’s Hanshaw’s original animation:
And for comparison, here are all the previous Doctor Who opening titles, from 1963 to 2013: