The decision for Doctor Who to axe its traditional Christmas special in favour of a January 1st episode has proved controversial with fans, but the move to a different festive occasion had some intrigued to see how writer Chris Chibnall could factor the traditions of New Year into the BBC sci-fi series.
But despite the official episode synopsis hinting at a New Year setting, it’s emerged that the story might not take place on that day at all – at least, according to some of the actors in it.
“When we were filming, we didn’t know when it was going to air,” Mandip Gill (who plays Yasmin Khan in Doctor Who) told Radio Times when asked if there were any overt New Year’s themes in the episode.
“We’ve only just found out with you guys.”
This suggests that, unless Gill and her co-star Tosin Cole (who backed up her story) are incredibly unobservant, the story doesn’t really incorporate the episode’s New Year’s Day airdate at all, in contrast to how the Who Christmas specials usually operate.
Generally speaking, the Doctor Who Christmas specials have either been set on or themed around Christmas Day – but from the sounds of it, the unnamed New Year’s special will be a less specific affair.
After all, if it really was playing with the traditional ideas of New Year, all the party poppers, New Year’s resolutions and Auld Lang Syne singalongs would have tipped Gill and Cole off about when the episode was airing. Instead, like us they were left in the dark about the timeslot.
As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring, from across the centuries of Earth’s history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?
A synopsis for the New Year’s special
Now, it could be that the some parts of the episode have slipped the pair’s minds – they did shoot it quite a long time ago, after all – and so it’s possible the episode isn’t an entirely standalone story. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is definitely gearing up for winter in the first preview pictures, so there does seem to have been some effort to place it in the right time of year.
And who knows? Maybe Gill and Cole are just telling a few white lies in order to keep us in the dark about whatever story Chris Chibnall is plotting for the Tardis team.
“You never know!” Cole teased when we pressed him on some story details.
“You’ve got to wait and see.”
For now, though, we won’t be expecting the Doctor to whip out a sonic party popper on Who Year’s Day. We might just have to make do with a NORMAL hour-long, mysterious Doctor Who episode on top of the full series we just had. Woe is us.
You can read our full interview with Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole in the new edition of the Radio Times Magazine, on sale now
Doctor Who continues on BBC1 on Sundays, and returns for an hour long special on January 1st 2019