Doctor Who season 10: What to expect from episode one

Critics say The Pilot episode introduces the Doctor's new 'instantly likeable' companion Bill – and there's a jaw-dropping moment

Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi poses in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge
(Image credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The Doctor is set to return to our TV screens for a tenth series this Easter weekend that will feature a new space adventure and a new companion.

The new twelve-part series, overseen by Steven Moffat, follows a year-long break for the Doctor, with the exception of the 2016 Christmas special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio.

It will be the third and final outing for Peter Capaldi's incarnation of the Time Lord. He will be teaming up once again with Nardole (Matt Lucas) but will also be taking on a new companion Bill (Pearl Mackie).

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The first episode of the new series, The Pilot, premieres on 15 April but has already been unveiled at a private screening.

It sees the Doctor on a secret mission with Nardole on Earth where he meets canteen worker Bill, embarks on a chase across time and space, and once again encounters the Daleks.

Early reviews for the first episode suggest it's a gentle but refreshing reintroduction to the Doctor.

Simon Brew on Den of Geek explains that unlike previous series openers, which have thrust us straight into the action, The Pilot's apparently "laid-back pacing" still gets through "a lot of business".

The episode opens with the Doctor settled back into academia – he's a professor at Bristol University – as Matt Lucas's Nardole ushers an "instantly likeable" Bill his way.

Bill, we discover, is "a dab hand at cooking chips" and wants to "improve her brain".

The critic says the episode is "good fun" and best viewed as "an entertaining refresher course in the ways of Who".

He also urges us to pay attention to Mackie, suggesting that Doctor Who "has unearthed a real talent here".

Catherine Gee in the Daily Telegraph applauds Bill's character for being "fresh and different" – she’s a mixed race foster child working in a the university canteen – and says this "makes a nice change in a British drama landscape so often filled with the middle class".

But Bill "lacks the charismatic spark of Jenna Coleman", says Gee, and as a series opener, the episode "fails to make a big impression" and is let down by "a flimsy storyline, clunky special effects and an underdeveloped foe".

The episode, which sees Capaldi tutoring Bill, is like Educating Rita "only without the booze", says Patrick Mulkern in the Radio Times.

Mulkern praises Mackie for being "instantly winning" as the doctor's fledgling companion – "uneducated but not dim, quirky and with a big heart".

And while The Pilot may be a gentle start to the series, he urges us to "keep alert until the very last second", adding that "jaws will drop!"

Doctor Who series 10 premieres on BBC1 on Saturday 15 April at 7.20pm.

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