Is Peter Capaldi the villain in the Doctor Who Christmas special?

Or will a classic foe be making a return?

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The title for the Doctor Who Christmas special has been revealed, and it’s a bit odd really: The Return of Doctor Mysterio.

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Now, as any truly international Who fan knows, Doctor Mysterio is the translated title of the series over in Mexico, so what gives? Is this a Latin-themed edition of the series to appeal south of the border?

Well, probably not. It’s likely that the use of Mysterio is just a bit of an in-joke between writer Steven Moffat and series star Peter Capaldi (Capaldi was particularly enamoured with the name while on a Doctor Who world tour in 2014), and there probably won’t be much of a Mexican connection in the special.

However, the title could tie in perfectly with something we do know about the episode – that it’ll riff on classic comic books to see the Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) team up with a superhero called Grant (Justin Chatwin) to defend New York from aliens.

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A classic Fantastic Four comic with a similar title structure

Just think about it – the Return of Doctor Mysterio sounds exactly like the sort of comic-book story the episode will presumably be riffing on (see above) and it’s the perfect name for a comic-book villain. After all, there’s a Spider-Man villain called Mysterio and a host of comic baddies with names like Doctor Doom, Doctor Destiny or Doctor Death, and altogether Doctor Mysterio is named like the perfectly sinister villain to oppose Chatwin’s hero (below).

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But who could this villain be, we hear you ask? Well, the answer’s obvious – Peter Capaldi’s Doctor who is, lest we forget, actually called Doctor Mysterio in a lot of places.

Now, of course we don’t think the Doctor has actually turned evil – we don’t think the series is quite that desperate yet – but it could be that for some reason he later ends up playing an oppositional role to Chatwin’s hero in the episode, meaning he slides by default into the part of a supervillain. Perhaps the Doctor even plays up to the idea, inventing his “supervillain name” in the same way that he briefly christened himself Doctor Disco in last year’s series nine.

Still not convinced? Well, believe it or not we have MORE theories. You see, there’s also a bit of evidence that Chatwin’s superhero may not be the clean-cut figure he first appears, which could explain why the Doctor might end up battling against him. Can you spot it in the logo on Grant’s chest? No? Well let’s make it a bit more obvious…

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Yep – some fans have noticed that behind the silver G there appears to be a red letter I, combining to make GI – a pair of initials used by a classic Doctor Who villain known for using unusual forms to try for world domination…

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Yep, that’s right – it could be that this logo is hinting at a reappearance by longstanding Doctor Who villain The Great Intelligence, an energy being capable of possessing various forms who first appeared in 1960s Patrick Troughton serials using Yetis to invade the London Underground (which we’re sure made sense at the time).

More recently the villain was revived in 2012 Christmas special the Snowmen played by Richard E Grant, using the GI logo on business cards for front organization the Great Intelligence Institute and sending evil snowmen on nefarious business. The character later seemingly perished in 2013’s The Name of the Doctor while controlling creatures called Whisper Men, and we assumed we’d seen the last of him – but perhaps we were wrong.

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Richard E Grant as the Great Intelligence

So, to sum up – it COULD be that the Christmas special will see the Doctor team up with a hero who turns out to be controlled by the Great Intelligence for some reason, meaning he later has to take him down. In the course of that festive storyline (in keeping with the Intelligence’s previous winter-themed plans), perhaps someone will seriously or in jest refer to the Doctor as Doctor Mysterio, hence the title.

Then again, it could be that this is a Mexican-set storyline with a logo we just spent way too many hours looking at. Only time (and space) will tell.

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Doctor Who will return this Christmas and for a full series in 2017