While we know Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi is set to exit the sci-fi series this Christmas, all sorts of rumours have been brewing that we could see the Doctor face his regeneration (where he heals himself by changing every cell of his body, giving him a different appearance and personality played by a new actor) earlier than expected.
First we saw him start the process (denoted by glowing skin and golden streaming light) in a couple of trailers, then Capaldi himself hinted that his death scene had already been filmed – and while we’re pretty sure such a regeneration won’t actually see the much-anticipated next Doctor join the series early (instead it’ll probably just see the Doctor heal himself from injury then vent the energy, as he once did in a 2008 episode) we’re still keen to find out exactly how and when this will all happen.
But happily, we might now have another clue pointing us to some answers.
Earlier this week we speculated that the need to heal the Doctor’s newfound blindness (caused by his exposure to the vacuum of space in Saturdays episode) could be the reason for the extra regeneration, while details from the series trailers seem to hint that it could be the series 7th episode (airing a week this Saturday) where the process takes place.
And now a new picture for THIS weekend’s sixth episode also seems to be pointing towards that timeframe. In the above image, we see the Doctor in a different outfit to the one he’s wearing for the majority of the episode, walking with guards in what appears to be the hideout for returning Time Lord villain Missy (Michelle Gomez).
Now, note the clothes he’s wearing for his regeneration in the image below – spot the similarity? It’s appears to be roughly the same as what he’s wearing in the preview picture (albeit a little smartened and tucked in), and the fact that these clothes are different to what the Doctor wears for most of episode 6’s story (including a black T-shirt and hoody) suggests that this scene is either taking place before or after the main action.
If it’s the latter, then it could indicate that the end of this week’s episode will feed directly into the one after in some way, perhaps even suggesting Missy has some involvement with the regeneration (she could gift him some healing energy as Alex Kingston’s River Song did in a 2011 episode, for example).
Then again, if it takes place BEFORE the main story of this Saturday’s installment this picture could suggest the slightly less likely scenario that the Doctor’s regeneration will also be in some sort of flashback, unrelated to the main action and making all those trailer scenes a serious red herring.
After all, in other official pictures for episode 7 (called The Pyramid At the End of the World), we see the Doctor in a rather different ensemble including a red shirt and his sonic shades. Hmm…
Then again – and get this one down – it could just be that the Doctor wears the same outfit more than once this series, we’re completely wrong and this has absolutely nothing to do with any sort of regeneration storyline.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 this Saturday at 7.25pm
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news