BBC’s Class deals with the supernatural, social issues, and being a teenager

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By Joshua Kaye

Following in the footsteps of The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, the new Doctor Who spin-off, Class, will be another show for Doctor Who fans to sit down and chew into. Taking place at Coal Hill Academy (the school that’s been featured since the beginning of the series), Class focuses primarily on six students at the school as well as some of the staff. At New York Comic Con, Nerd Reactor had the chance to sit in at an exclusive round table featuring show creator Patrick Ness and stars Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins, and Vivian Oparah.

Unlike the previous Doctor Who spin-offs, Class will focus primarily on characters who we haven’t met before (aside from Mr. Armitage, who has been seen briefly in series eight). So there’s really no Sarah Jane or Captain Jack to ease us into the transition of the new show. In talking about their characters, Greg Austin talks about his character Charlie, saying that he’s “the new boy in school. He’s kind of shy, but the way he’s thrown into the scenarios that they all have to go through he starts making friends for the first time with these other guys.”

For Patrick Ness, he has the job of running his show while trying to at least maintain some sort of connection with the ever expanding universe of Doctor Who. Ness wants to make sure though that Class can step out on its own, but there will be a bit of help in the first episode saying that The Doctor is in episode one of the series. Ness goes on, saying “This is a different corner of the universe that we’ve never seen before, and so we need to see how he sees it, how he looks at it.” He continues, talking about the difference between Doctor Who and Class saying, “[The Doctor] goes on an adventure, then he leaves, and it’s fantastic and we go with him. So this is what happens when we don’t go with him, to the people left behind.”

The way Ness describes Class, it really feels like there’s going to be a tone departure from Doctor Who, saying that the show is “…quite dark, and it’s not afraid to go with the big emotional arcs. …It’s everything that’s…why sci-fi is always just a bare step away from allegorical because the life and death decisions are what it feels like to be a teenager and what all science fiction does is take that and literalize it and say, ‘Well, in fact, what if that were really the case?’”

One of the most appealing parts about the show seems to be that Class doesn’t shy away from social issues that we see in everyday life. Fady Elsayed goes on, saying that, “It’s very now, everything you’re gonna see is just so…current, and just very authentic.” Vivian Oparah builds off of that and says, “If it wasn’t like that, how are you making a TV show in the 21st century and not touching on any 21st century issues?”

Sophie Hopkins joins the discussion as well and says, “The prime thing about the show that as well as the side order of fighting aliens and saving the world, it’s real world drama and that’s at the heart of it and that’s why so many people will connect to it.” When it comes down to it, it sounds like the show is about teenagers having to deal with being teenagers and navigate high school and their lives. With the added dosage of having The Doctor and monsters.

Will the fans of Doctor Who enjoy the new spin-off show, Class? It’s tough to say. Sure, Class focuses on a group of teenagers and the problems and trials they go through during their young lives, but it also appears to be much darker than a lot that’s been seen on Doctor Who itself. As for me? I can’t wait for it to make its premiere on BBC America. Sadly, that won’t be until 2017. But for those across the pond, you should have had the chance to have captured the first couple of episodes by now, as Class made its premiere on BBC Three. So don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

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