Hold on to the Tardis controls tight: This year’s Doctor Who Christmas special is set to be an unforgettable ride. Not only will Twice Upon a Time mark the departure of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor and showrunner Steven Moffat, but the episode will also see new lead Jodie Whittaker materialise, as well as the First ever Doctor. Oh, and Pearl Mackie is set to return. And Mark Gatiss.
So, with such a packed adventure ahead, you probably need some sort of guide to who’s who, right? You’re in luck: below is everything you need to know about the cast, characters and glass monsters in Twice Upon a Time….
Peter Capaldi plays The Twelfth Doctor
Nobody is certain exactly what his name is, but we do know this time-travelling alien from Gallifrey is not in good shape at the start of the Christmas special. In fact, after being zapped by a Cyberman at the end of series 10, he’s due a regeneration. However, there’s a snap: The Doctor really really doesn’t want to do that.
As Steve Moffat explained earlier this year, the Time Lord is “horrified” at the prospect. However, expect The Doctor to face this fear soon: he’ll be regenerating into Jodie Whittaker at the end of the episode.
Who is Peter Capaldi?
Before sporting The Doctor’s Sonic Glasses, Capaldi was best known for playing foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in comedy The Thick of It and its spin-off film In the Loop.
Interestingly, Capaldi has taken up two previous roles in the Whoniverse: he played Lobus Caecilius in the 2008 episode The Fires of Pompeii with the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), and civil servant John Frobisher in 2009’s Torchwood: Children of Earth.
The original, you might say. (Providing you ignorethe canon contradictions) The First Doctor is the initial version of the Time Lord we first saw on TV in 1963. Then played by William Hartnell (an actor that died 40 years ago), the former version of Capaldi’s character was slightly-cranky and occasionally ruthless, but always effective.
The First Doctor could be in danger during the special: as the trailer for the episode showed, his role in Twice Upon a Time could happen at a similar time to his adventures depicted in The Tenth Planet. Why is that a problem? The First Doctor died and regenerated at the end of the story. In other words, we might see more than one Doctor regenerate this episode.
Who is David Bradley?
You probably know the veteran actor best as either ill-tempered Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch in the Harry Potter series or the ill-tempered Walder Frey in Game of Thrones.
As well as that, Bradley has had roles in Broadchurch, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Captain America: The First Avenger.
Whovians might also recognise the actor as ruthless trader Solomon in Eleventh Doctor episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (an episode penned by incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall).
Bradley also played Hartnell himself and his onscreen persona in An Adventure in Space and Time, the BBC drama about the genesis of the series.
Pearl Mackie plays Bill Potts
Who is Bill Potts?
The Doctor’s former companion who worked in a university canteen before she underwent adventures in time and space. Unfortunately, those adventures didn’t end well for her: during series 10 she was converted into a Cyberman.
Luckily her old flame Heather turned up just before Bill died to transform her into interdimensional being with the promise that she could also return her to human form if she so wished.
Whatever form we see Bill in, it’s going to be her last Doctor Who outing for the moment: she’ll be leaving the show after the special.
Who isPearl Mackie
Before Who, Mackie was a relative newcomer to TV but did plenty of theatre work – having been described as “a star in the making” by the British Theatre Guide.
She also had a short stint on BBC daytime soap Doctors…
After Who, Mackie will star in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party alongside Stephen Mangan, Toby Jones and Zoe Wanamaker (in typical British acting tradition, two of her co-stars are also Who veterans).
Mark Gatiss plays The Captain
Who is The Captain?
A First World War soldier who appears to be trapped in a single moment of time in the special’s trailer. Other than that, we can’t be sure, but fans have developed several theories. Some argue he’s younger version of classic series ally the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtenay) or even some sort of Time Lord himself (the definite article name is certainly banging on).
And then there’s those whoargue that he’s actually Gilbert MacKenzie-Trench, the man who invented the blue telephone box that hit the streets in 1929. Could his adventures in Twice Upon a Time have inspired him to invent the box in the first place?
Who is Mark Gatiss?
Gatiss is famed for co-creating and starring in the BBC’s hit series Sherlock (in which he played Mycroft), but his prolific TV career also includes roles in Game of Thrones, Taboo, Wolf Hall, Nighty Night and The League of Gentlemen.
As well as writing nine Doctor Who stories, such as The Unquiet Dead and series 10’s Empress of Mars, Gatiss has also appeared in the show itself: He played Professor Lazarus in series 3’s The Lazarus Experiment and Viking chess player Gantok in The Wedding of River Song.
Gatiss also wrote An Adventure in Space and Time, the story of the creation of Doctor Who that starred David Bradley as William Hartnell/The First Doctor
Is she a new alien we haven’t seen before? Or does she have some connection to the Cybermen that appeared in Tenth Planet, the First Doctor’s last adventure (see above)?
Who isNikki Amuka-Bird?
You may know Amuka-Bird from contemporary drama NW, Inside No. 9, Jupiter Ascending or he previous venture in the Whoniverse: back in 2008 she had played an alien sleeper agent in the second series of the Who spin-off.
Jodie Whittaker plays The Thirteenth Doctor
Who isThe Thirteenth Doctor?
The Time Lord that Peter Capaldi’s character will regenerate into. And, well, that’s about all we know for the moment. Since the character was unveiled earlier this year, we’re really not sure what to expect, apart from her outfit.
We do, however, know she’ll only appear in the episode’s final moments after Peter Capaldi’s Doctor has regenerated, in a scene written by new showrunner Chris Chibnall.
And barring any huge surprises, her new companions – Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Yasmin (Mandip Gill) – WON’T feature in Twice Upon a Time.
Who is Jodie Whittaker?
Whittaker’s no stranger to TV screens, having popped up in the likes of Return to Cranford, The Assets, The Smoke and Black Mirror. She made her big screen debut in 2006 film Venus, and also appeared in the St Trinian’s films, One Day and Good Vibrations to name but a few.
Before Who, she was best known for playing Beth Latimer, mum to murdered Danny Latimer, in Chris Chibnall’s last big drama series, Broadchurch.