While many Doctor Who fans are excited to see the debut of new Doctor Jodie Whittaker this Christmas, that enthusiasm is tempered with a certain sadness: the episode will also be the last adventure for Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor before.
However, the most devastating moment for Capaldi’s Time Lord this December might not actually be when he regenerates, because according to someone who was on set for the last days of filming, scenes before that transition are even more emotional as the Doctor says his goodbyes to certain key figures.
“I don’t know what I can and can’t say – as is always the case with Doctor Who!”
However, Whiley did drop one intriguing hint when asked if she’d actually watched Capaldi’s regeneration, explaining that she’d instead watched some of the scenes building to that pivotal scene.
“It was leading up. Leading up to that moment,” she said. “When he had to say some emotional farewells.”
Now, it could be that Whiley only means she saw the Doctor saying goodbye to erstwhile companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) and guest stars David Bradley and Mark Gatiss (playing the First Doctor and The Captain respectively) at the tail end of the episode – but we can’t help but wonder if this means we’ll ALSO get to see the Twelfth Doctor revisit some of his former companions before regenerating.
After all, this is something Doctor Who has done before. When David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor regenerated into Matt Smith’s incarnation in 2010’s The End of Time Part 2 he visited many of his old friends, in an episode that also served as a farewell to then-showrunner Russell T Davies.
This time, it’s Steven Moffat leaving to make way for new boss Chris Chibnall – so who’s to say Moffat wouldn’t also fancy a quick revisit of some of the characters he’s created over the last seven years? It would certainly explain the rumours about Jenna Coleman returning to the episode for a cameo…
Still, even if this doesn’t turn out to be a surprise Doctor Who reunion, Whiley was confident that fans would be crying themselves dry by the episode’s end, which she says was emotional just to be on the periphery of.
“[The set] was loaded with sadness and emotion,” she told us. “It’s fascinating to watch. As actors, they’re obviously all incredibly close, and the whole team are incredibly close. Doctor Who is such a close-knit family.
“Seeing them then become those characters, you just get drawn into what you’ve been watching on screen throughout the whole of this Doctor’s incarnation. It’s fascinating to see. And then they just snap out, and they’re the actors again.
Peter Capaldi and Jo Whiley on the set of Doctor Who (BBC)
“But you really did feel the intensity of what they’re going through. The fact that they are, as people, saying goodbye to each other. I think the viewers are going to be in bits when they watch.”
“I think it will be a Blue Christmas,” Whiley concluded.
“Peter’s such an amazing actor. Such an incredible actor. And I think Doctor Who’s very lucky to have had him as one of the Doctors. And this is just such a great way for him to go out.
“It’s really fitting I think, the story is really fitting for him. Because it really calls on his great acting.”