A scene in the Doctor Who Christmas special left “everyone in tears” – and it wasn’t Peter Capaldi’s regeneration

Get the tissues ready – it's going to be emotional

Pearl Mackie, Peter Capaldi and David Bradley in the Doctor Who Christmas special

As we inch ever closer to the airing of this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special (that’s Christmas Day, unsurprisingly) fans are getting pretty emotional about the departure of current Doctor Peter Capaldi, who’s bowing out after four years at the Tardis controls to hand over to new Time Lord Jodie Whittaker.


However, it’s now emerged that viewers might emerge from Twice Upon a Time red-eyed for reasons entirely unrelated to the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration, with one of the episode’s most emotional moments apparently coming from a scene slightly earlier in the episode.

At least, that’s the story according to Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley, who went on the Doctor Who set in the last days of filming for a new radio documentary and discovered the whole crew were still a little shellshocked from a VERY emotional scene they’d just shot.

“The day before there was a scene that they had to film,” Whiley told RadioTimes.com, “and everyone said EVERYONE was in tears.

“Because of the poignancy of the scene that they were filming, which had less to do with the Doctor himself and more to do with the storyline. And everyone was in pieces.

“And when you watch the Christmas Day episode, you’ll understand,” she went on. “It’s really very very clever, and very laced with emotion. It was less to do with the departure of the Doctor and more to do with the storyline.

She concluded: “There were tears being shed everywhere.”

Peter Capaldi and Jo Whiley on the set of Doctor Who (BBC, HF)

Curiouser and curiouser… and now these new details have us wondering about something else. Could this mysterious non-regeneration-related scene be the same one that episode star David Bradley (taking over William Hartnell’s First Doctor role) said had both he and Peter Capaldi “blubbing” when they filmed it?

“There’s an event towards the end of [the Christmas special] that happens and when it happened, well, we just did a take and neither Peter nor I expected it,” Bradley said at London Film and Comic-con in September.

“There was no CGI involved, it was all happening and we were both almost blubbing by the time that the take ended. I can’t say, I’m not going to say, what it was but it was quite an event and we weren’t prepared for all the things that were going to be going on around us as we were doing our dialogue.

“And as I say to you, we got quite lumpy. They’ve kept that out of the trailer but it takes it all to another dimension…”

So watch out, Who fans – if you’re holding your crates of tissues and tear buckets for the Christmas special’s final few minutes, you might want to break some out early to avoid an unexpected emotional sucker-punch earlier in the episode. There’s only so many tears one body can give, after all.


Jo Whiley’s Access All Areas Doctor Who special airs on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday 21st December from 8.00pm to 10.00pm