Does this vital clue tell us when we’ll see Peter Capaldi’s replacement in Doctor Who?

The sci-fi series doesn't yet have a costume designed for the Thirteenth Doctor – and you can't have a new Doctor without a new wardrobe right?

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When is Peter Capaldi leaving Doctor Who? It’s the enigma that’s perplexed the hardiest of Whovian ever since it was announced that the Twelfth Doctor would be hanging up his sonic sunglasses for good this year.

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When we’ll see his replacement simply isn’t clear but many rumours have suggested that Capaldi would depart before the Christmas special. The actor himself even hinted the regeneration scene has already been filmed.

However, a new piece of information suggest that a new actor won’t replace Capaldi pre-Christmas. Why? Because nobody’s made the Thirteenth Doctor’s outfit yet.

Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Ray Holman – Doctor Who costume designer and the man who’ll help craft the Thirteenth Doctor’s look – suggested work wouldn’t start on the new Doctor’s outfit until after the festive special has finished filming.

“I think they’ll need me after the Christmas show,” he said. “As soon as that’s finished in the autumn I will start talking to Chris [Chibnall, series 11 Doctor Who showrunner] – once I know who they’ve chosen to be the Doctor.”

Asked what plans he had for the new costume, Holman replied: “I know there’s a lot of speculation about who the next Doctor is, but until that person is cast there’s no point in me thinking about it.”

So, there’s no new outfit designed and no casting decision made. Pretty conclusive evidence that Capaldi will be flying the Tardis until the Christmas special, right?

Perhaps not. It’s possible that the new Doctor has been cast, with the regenerated Time Lord making their first appearance in the series 10 finale and simply wearing Capaldi’s costume for the entirety of the Christmas special. There’s no reason why he needs a new outfit designed, right? It’s feasible, but it’s not how previous Who regenerations have gone down before.

True, Time Lords don’t regenerate into a new set of clothes – each new Doctor dons their previous incarnation’s costume for a short while. But at the end of their first full episode, almost all Doctors of new Who are seen in their new outfit, establishing themselves as a fresh character in the mind of the audience.

For instance, we first saw David Tennant in series one finale Parting of the Ways wearing a leather jacket previously rocked by Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston. Tennant then sported pyjamas during most of his first full episode (The Christmas Invasion) before slipping into his suit and Converse combo by the end credits.

Matt Smith’s regeneration followed the same pattern. He wore the tattered remains of the Tenth Doctor’s getup in his first full story (The Eleventh Hour) before changing into the iconic tweed jacket and bow tie during the episode’s finale.

And Capaldi? Same again. He wore Matt Smith’s clothes at the close of The Time of the Doctor, but we see him in his mod boots and black jacket at the end of his first full episode Deep Breath. 

So if the new Doctor’s outfit won’t be designed and ready before series 11, then the earliest the new Doctor will appear must be at some point during the Christmas special.

After all, new Who showrunner Chris Chibnall will want to establish his Doctor as distinct from Capaldi’s character as he ushers in a new era on the show; if the Time Lord does regenerate early then the show’s new lead will be running about in Capaldi’s hoodie and holey jumper until 2011. Hardly a clean break. 

There is a notable exception to the outfit pattern above: John Hurt’s War Doctor wore a mix of Christopher’s Eccleston’s jacket and Paul McGann’s waistcoat (see below), but the War Doctor didn’t exactly play by any of the show’s conventional rules, his mere existence messing up Who’s established canon. Take him out out the equation and the theory fits.

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In the most recent issue of Radio Times, outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat gave a strong hint that Capaldi will still be in the show come Christmas. When asked what it’s like reaching the final series as showrunner, Moffat replied: “Well, we’ll show up again at Christmas – apart from Michelle [Gomez].” Although he says Gomez is leaving the show (as we previously reported) come the end of series 10, Moffat’s statement suggests he’ll be back with Capaldi to say goodbye at Christmas.

Yet we shouldn’t expect a straightforward regeneration; Capaldi himself said in the most recent issue of RT that we can expect a “more complicated” process than we’ve seen before. Whatever is set to happen, at least we know that the Doctor’s sartorial decisions will have plenty of space and time.

Doctor Who continues at 6:45pm this Saturday on BBC1 

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