Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Steven Moffat turned up for their first day back at work in Cardiff today as filming got under way on the seventh season of Doctor Who. There's a lot we still don't know about the series, of course, but here are some things we do know, and some others we can make educated guesses about...
Which writers will be involved?
Being Human creator Toby Whithouse will be writing an episode. He previously penned series two's School Reunion, series five’s The Vampires of Venice and the eerie The God Complex from series six.
Chris Chibnall - who wrote series three story 42 and fifth series two-parter The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, which brought back the Silurians - is also confirmed.
Mark Gatiss's involvement remains unofficial but he says he'll be back to write for series seven. Steven Moffat’s Sherlock collaborator has been involved since Doctor Who was rebooted, having written series one episode The Unquiet Dead, series two’s The Idiot’s Lantern, series five's Victory of the Daleks and series six episode Night Terrors.
Having already been given the honour of resurrecting the redesigned Daleks - and as tight as he is with Moffat - we wouldn’t bet against Gatiss being involved in bringing back a classic Who monster again (see below).
Meanwhile, showrunner and lead writer Steven Moffat will, of course, be writing the last episode to feature Rory and Amy (see below).
Who'll be directing?
Saul Metzstein, whose previous credits include Micro Men – BBC4’s comedy drama about Clive Sinclair – and 2001 film drama Late Night Shopping is the first confirmed director, though Doctor Who alumnus Richard Clark (Gridlock, The Lazarus Experiment, The Doctor’s Wife, Night Terrors) has hinted on Twitter that he’ll be back for this series, too.
Amy and Rory’s departure
We know The Ponds are leaving partway through this series in a story Karen Gillan has called “the best ever” and a “damn good” exit and Steven Moffat has warned will be "heartbreaking".
In terms of exactly when Rory and Amy will be off, Toby Whithouse said recently at the SFX Weekender sci-fi convention that his episode would be third in the series and would be “one of the final ones” to feature the pair.
And since Moffat and Toby Whithouse both appear to be writing a Rory and Amy episode, it sounds like the couple's departure could be part of a story that spans more than one show.
Will River Song return?
Steven Moffat hinted very strongly at the press conference for the 2011 Christmas special that River Song would be back, and we know he loves writing the character. Further hints from Alex Kingston, plus the fact there remain several points on River’s timeline we’ve not yet seen, and that her mum is about to make her departure, make it likely River will put in an appearance.
Which monsters will be back?
Producer Marcus Wilson told Doctor Who Magazine that two monsters from “classic” Who would be back in series seven. On the one hand, you might think it’s about time to see the revamped Daleks return; on the other, Steven Moffat said only last year that he intended to give them a rest for while. So “classic” could well mean something or someone we haven’t seen since Doctor Who was rebooted…
When will the series start and how long will it be?
An autumn start is predicted – after all, we’d expect to see some episodes before the next Christmas special – but a gap in transmission seems likely and we may well see less than half of the series in 2012, especially since 2013 is the big year for Doctor Who – its 50th anniversary – so it’s likely to be packed full of Who.
In January, Steven Moffat told Radio Times the series would feature “at least 14 episodes”. Assuming that takes the Christmas special into account, it could mean another 13 parts, or it could mean more, including, perhaps, an Easter special…
Is this Matt Smith's last series?
Speaking at this year’s National Television Awards, Matt left us in a bit of confusion, on one hand suggesting an approaching exit - "The truth is that I've got another year left... I've got a year of Who and I'll take it from there…” - on the other, saying: “I'm here for the future, I love making the show. I have no plans to leave.”
But it's not the first hint Matt's dropped that he'll be departing sooner rather than later, we know he has one eye on Hollywood, and surely Doctor Who's 50th anniversary needs a regeneration - so our money's on this being his last full series...