Well this is pretty cool, isn’t it? Space, explosions, the Doctor and his companion running – classic Who and really rather gorgeous too. Of course there’s always more to a new Doctor Who picture than first meets the eye, especially when you know a little bit about the show – and have an extremely vivid imagination…
1 Gallifrey rediscovered?
Yes, on one hand this could be any planet in any galaxy in the universe. On the other, we know series nine will shed light on the 12th Doctor’s surprise appearance in The Day of the Doctor, which saw him (or at least his attack eyebrows) join his other 12 incarnations in saving Gallifrey from the Daleks. Their home planet now resides in a “pocket universe”, frozen in time – and if there was ever a planet in a pocket universe frozen in time it’s the one in this picture! Just look at it, all half transparent, with stars in front of it. Classic lost planet.
2 Tardis or Dalek?
No, not a game for passing the time on a long journey through space and time but a genuine question – could the Unidentified Flying Object shooting out of that huge explosion be the Tardis (hopefully not) or a Dalek? It has the basic proportions of both, although personally I’m seeing a distinct head section and rivets. That could fit with 1 since it was, of course, the Daleks who were about to destroy Gallifrey when the Doctors arrived to save it. Could the 12th Doctor have found a way to win the Time War without losing his planet? Or maybe it’s just a bit of rock.
3 Troughton’s Trousers
We know Peter Capaldi has been a Doctor Who fan since the beginning, and we know he likes to have a big influence on the 12th Doctor’s sartorial stylings, so it’s no surprise to see a pair of checked trousers turning up in his wardrobe, a clear nod to the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.
4 Layers of meaning?
Look closely and you’ll see the Doctor is wearing not three, not four, but five layers of clothing. There’s the trademark coat and the increasingly familiar hoodie but there’s also a t-shirt, a pink granddad-type vest thing and what look like the collars of a grey shirt poking out at the top too. Layering is cool but it’s also a good way to keep warm – where is he, the ice planet of Hoth?! Oh no, wait, wrong franchise…
5 Clara loves being back with the Doctor
Just look at the expression on Clara’s face. The Doctor and his companion are back together and she’s loving it. Clara really came into her own in series eight, developing from a plot device to a full-blown character viewers could really relate to. So when Jenna Coleman decided she was having too much fun and scrapped her plans to leave, it was generally considered a Good Thing. Looks like Clara agrees and is ready for more exhilarating adventures in space and time with her old friend.
6 Troughton Tunic
Is it going too far to suggest that Clara’s checked dress echoes the pattern on the Doctor’s trousers? Whether or not they’re now deliberately co-ordinating their clothing, I’m liking the 60s-style tunic dress, which is a little remeniscent of the kind of thing the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan used to wear. The top I can do without, though – there is no place in this or any other universe for mustard coloured clothing.
7 Exploding the myths
You may have notice the massive explosion in the background of the picture. As discussed in 2, it could be the remnants of the Time War, and it reminds me of the Pillars of Creation (the place where stars are born, as photographed by the Hubble Telescope in – yes – real life) but while I’m no vulcanologist it also looks to me like exactly the sort of pyroclastic flow you’d expect to see spilling out from that volcano that exploded in…
8 Pompeii revisited?
Now bear with me. If that isn’t Vesuvius erupting to the left, perhaps this is the volcanic mountain in more peaceful times. Bear with me. We know that the mystery of Peter Capaldi’s recurring faces is likely to be addressed in series nine, and The Fires of Pompeii is one of the times that familiar face has been seen before. Before he was cast as the Doctor, Capaldi played Roman merchant Lucius Caecilius Iucundus opposite David Tennant in the season four episode. Perhaps he’s back as the 12th Doctor for a face-off with his former self.
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 on 19th September
Radio Times Festival will run from 24th-27th September on The Green at Hampton Court Palace. Tickets are available from www.radiotimesfestival.com