The big draw for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special (apart from, you know, that whole regeneration thing) is the casting of David Bradley.
The Harry Potter and Game of Thrones actor takes over the role of the first Doctor from original series star William Hartnell. Of course, Bradley previously played Hartnell himself in An Adventure in Space and Time, the 2013 drama that went behind the scenes of the creation of the show. So we have already seen him in the costume delivering classic lines, albeit as an actor playing a role.
But now Bradley is playing the actual character of the First Doctor – marking the first time fans have seen the earliest incarnation of the Time Lord for decades. And it turns out he’s not the only classic series character we’ll get to meet.
You see, while we already knew that Kingsman’s Lily Travers was taking over the role of Polly (originally played by Anneke Wills) it’s now been revealed that the First Doctor’s other companion at the time of his regeneration – Michael Craze’s Ben Jackson – is also making a comeback.
(Are you keeping up? Good.)
In a report first printed in Doctor Who magazine and then confirmed by the actor himself on Twitter, it’s been announced that Jared Garfield – best known for playing Nathan Nightingale in Hollyoaks – will take on the role of Ben, joining Bradley and Travers for scenes rumoured to be set during the time of final Hartnell adventure The Tenth Planet (with the episode trailer suggesting some scenes will be remade exactly).
Unlike Bradley, neither Garfield or Travers have portrayed versions of these characters before – Anneke Wills and Michael Craze were played by Ellie Spicer and Robin Varley in An Adventure in Space and Time – but based on their past experience we’re sure they’ll do them justice.
And in any case, it’s possible we won’t see Ben and Polly much in the special anyway, as the Tenth Planet had them mainly fending for themselves while the Doctor was ill. (In reality, this was a workaround for Hartnell’s poor health at the time).
Meanwhile this story seems to be focusing on Bradley and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors away from the companions, banding together against unknown dangers, perhaps explaining the First Doctor’s absence from the original story.
But however much we see them, it’s nice to know that Doctor Who will deliver old-school charm in a brand new package. And isn’t that what the rebooted series is all about?