Doctor Who season 12 release date – who’s in the cast and what’s going to happen?

More Daleks? The Judoon return? A Cyberman attack? And what about the cast? Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Doctor Who series ahead of its 2020 return

Cast Release

Jodie Whittaker and her Doctor Who team have wrapped on filming for the new series, and it’s not long now until we’ll see more episodes on the BBC.

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On New Year’s Day the Doctor will return – but what will she be up to? Who is she travelling with, and what kind of baddies might she be facing? Are the Cybermen the only classic foes, or will the Daleks be back in action as well?

Check out everything we know about Doctor Who season 12 below…


When is Doctor Who season 12 coming back to TV?

BBC
BBC

The BBC has announced that the sci-fi series will return at 6.55pm on Wednesday 1st January 2020, aka New Year’s Day. Following that the series will return to a weekly Sunday evening release date (as it did in 2018), meaning there’s only a few days between the first and second episodes.

It’s also been confirmed that the first story (written by Chris Chibnall and titled Spyfall) will be a two-parter, so at least fans won’t have to wait too long to see what happens next…

“We’re delighted that the Doctor and her friends will be returning to thrill audiences in 2020,” BBC director of Content Charlotte Moore said in a 2018 press release.

“I know Chris and the whole team are already working on a whole new set of exciting adventures.”


Is there a Doctor Who season 12 trailer?

Yes – there are two! After weeks of waiting the first trailer arrived in November 2019, and it showed an action-packed, alien-stuffed series of adventures for the Doctor and her friends.

Also debuting a new-look Cyberman and plenty of intriguing hints about what to expect from the series, it’s a must-watch – so why not look up and do that now?

And when you’re done with that, in early December the BBC also released a surprise second trailer, which gives a better look at a few monsters and other challenges faced by the Doctor and company.

You can also catch a glimpse of some new sets and scenes in the wrap video above.

At the end of October, the BBC tweeted out an intriguing image of the Doctor’s shadow suggesting we should “watch this space,” and later doubled down on on the tease with a short trailer that promised more information at the end of November.

As any Doctor Who fan knows, the 23rd November is the anniversary of the series’ first ever episode back in 1963, so it’s not surprising the BBC chose this day to release the first trailer.


What is the first episode of Doctor Who season 12 called? What’s it about?

The first two-part episode (written by showrunner Chris Chibnall) will be called Spyfall, an apparent riff on James Bond movie Skyfall – and we have a few other ideas about what it could mean as we’ve explained elsewhere…

According to the BBC’s official episode synopsis, “Intelligence agents around the world are under attack from alien forces. MI6 turns to the only people who can help: The Doctor and friends. As they travel the globe for answers, attacks come from all sides. Earth’s security rests on the team’s shoulders, but where will this planet-threatening conspiracy lead them?”


Will there be a Doctor Who Christmas special in 2019?

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It looks like there will – but not until Christmas 2020.

“You will get a special – at the end of the series, yes,” Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall told RadioTimes.com and other journalists when asked if there was a Christmas special coming up.

In other words, there’s no special in late 2019 or for New Year’s Day 2020, but there probably will be one for Christmas 2020. At least this year we’ll get an episode on New Year’s Day though!

So, fans of Christmas specials look like they may have to wait an entire year. The best things come to those that wait and all that.


Will there be another season from showrunner Chris Chibnall after Doctor Who season 12?

Doctor Who Series 12

Apparently, yes! Chris Chibnall has revealed that work has already begun on series 13, albeit in the very early stages, while refuting claims that he was quitting Doctor Who.

“It’s categorically untrue [that I’m leaving],” Chibnall told RadioTimes.com and other press during a visit to Doctor Who’s Cardiff set. “We’re already planning the next series after this series.”


Who’s in the cast for Doctor Who season 12?

Stephen Fry and Lenny Henry (Getty)
Stephen Fry and Lenny Henry (Getty)

Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker and her Tardis team Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill are all set to return, along with showrunner Chibnall behind the scenes.

“We can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole to BBC1,” Chibnall said. “Brilliant!”

It has also been confirmed that  national treasure Stephen Fry (above) and another national treasure Sir Lenny Henry (also above) will appear in the series’ opening episode playing unknown roles, while ER’s Goran Višnjić and Hustle’s Robert Glenister will join for another story.

“Short of being picked for a British space exploration programme – and I readily concede that I’m past the age where I’d be considered (if I was ever the right age for such a posting) – then being in an episode of Doctor Who will certainly do as a very sweet second-place excitement,” Fry said of his casting.

“It was absolutely brilliant to be welcomed into the fantastical world of Doctor Who,” agreed Henry, who has previously worked with Jodie Whittaker and series boss Chris Chibnall on ITV drama Broadchurch.

“The nearest I have been to the TARDIS was when I played the Caribbean Doctor in the Lenny Henry Show, so as a life-long (hiding behind the sofa type) Doctor Who fan this is a very special moment for me.”

Goran Višnjić and Robert Glenister (Getty)
Goran Višnjić and Robert Glenister (Getty)

“I first appeared in Doctor Who in The Caves of Androzani at the tender age of 24 in 1984,” Glenister said.

“35 years later I got to be in it again at the not so tender age of nearly 60. How time flies!”

On his part in the show, Višnjić said: “I’ve always been a huge fan of Doctor Who, so when the offer to play one of my favorite people in history came, it made me so happy to be part of the show.”

“And it turned into this awesome, dream job!”

Bodyguard star Anjli Mohindra (who previously starred in Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures) appeared in the series 12 trailer playing an insect-like alien, who has not yet been named.

James Buckley (podcast screenshot)
James Buckley (podcast screenshot)

It’s also been rumoured that Inbetweeners star James Buckley will appear in one of the episodes recently shot in Tenerife, with the actor apparently spotted on set in a coloured wig and adding a Doctor Who credit to his online Spotlight CV.

Also adding a Doctor Who credit to his CV has been the breakout star of Russell T Davies’  Years & Years, Maxim Baldry, who is apparently filming for the series as of July 2019.

The BBC have declined to comment on Buckley and Baldry’s possible casting, and it may be that any such guest stars are only revealed close to transmission.

One bit of casting we DO know, though, is that the mother of TV presenter Ben Fogle is set to have a part in the new series, a fact Fogle recently revealed in a response to the decision to scrap free license fees for certain over-75s. Called Julia Foster, Fogle’s mother is expected to appear in the same episode as the Judoon.


Who is writing Doctor Who season 12?

Doctor Who series 12’s writing team has been confirmed, and there are a few returning faces alongside some new talent.

Vinay Patel, Ed Hime and Pete McTighe are all returning to pen an episode this year, while the newcomers are Nina Metivier (who previously worked as a script editor on the series), Emmerdale’s Maxine Alderton and award-winning playwright Charlene James.

“We’re thrilled that Doctor Who continues to attract some of the most exciting and dynamic talent working in television,” head writer Chris Chibnall said in a release.

“Along with our returning faces, we’re excited to welcome new members to the Doctor Who family. The Doctor Who team is crammed with British television’s brightest writers and directors: we’ve adored working with them, and can’t wait to show you the explosive stuff they’ve created!”

It’s expected that Chibnall will pen four episodes, while the guest writers deliver a script each.


Are the Daleks back in Doctor Who?

Well, it seems likely – fans have spotted the tinpot terrors filming in Bristol on the Clifton Suspension bridge, with scenes about demonstrating the new “Recon Dalek” model introduced in New Year’s Day special Resolution being blown apart by the more traditional gold Daleks. But who knows? Given how secret Doctor Who normally keeps these things, it could all be a bit of misdirection…


Are the Cybermen returning to Doctor Who?

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The latest rumour to swirl around the series is that classic foes The Cybermen will return to menace the Doctor in the new series, in a 19th-century-set episode that will see them inspire author Mary Shelley to create the character of Frankenstein.

When contacted by RadioTimes.com about the possibility of the Cybermen’s return the BBC declined to comment, so we may have to watch this space to see if the silvery cyborgs will be back to take on Jodie Whittaker just three years after being vanquished by her predecessor Peter Capaldi.


What will happen in Doctor Who series 12?

Mandip Gill (Richard Grassie)
Mandip Gill (Richard Grassie)

The end of the 2019 New Year’s Day special doesn’t give much away about what we might expect from future episodes: the Doctor and her team simply fly away from Sheffield again to continue their adventures.

“Where to next?” asks companion Yaz (Mandip Gill).

“I was thinking…everywhere,” the Doctor replies.

However, some details from series 12’s shooting have revealed that one episode will deal with early 20th-century wartime Paris, while another (which may guest star Stephen Fry) will involve espionage and British spy agencies.

Another rumour claims that in the new series the Doctor will take on some environmental issues , specifically the scourge of single-use plastics that’s been part of public debate for the last few months. While the BBC has declined to comment on the speculation,  it does seem like the perfect story for plastic villains The Autons to return…

And Chris Chibnall has also dropped a few hints about what to expect from series 12. At a question and answer session, he was asked whether we’d ever see Mandip Gill’s character Yaz return to her career as a police officer.

“That’s a really good question,” he told the crowd. “I think that some of these questions may be answered in the forthcoming season….”

Finally some more action for Yaz? Sign us up.

And of course, we know at least one villain who’s returning for the new series…


Who are the Judoon?

Cast Release

It’s been revealed that rhino-like thugs the Judoon are returning to the series in 2020, with Whittaker’s Doctor and her team facing off with them in Gloucester as they enact some sort of “deadly mission,” according to the BBC.

“No! Sho! Blo! The Judoon are storming back into Doctor Who in full force, and the streets of Gloucester aren’t safe,” series showrunner Chris Chibnall said.

“If anyone has anything to hide, confess now. The Judoon are taking no prisoners, and will stop at nothing to fulfil their mission! The whole team on Doctor Who are delighted and scared in equal measure to welcome them back: one of many treats we’ve got in store for viewers next series.”

The same episode is also set to include Doctor Foster and Silk star Neil Stuke in an as-yet-unknown role, the first guest star officially announced for the twelfth rebooted series that is currently filming.

“We’re over the moon (with Judoon), to be welcoming the wondrous Neil Stuke as a guest star,” Chibnall continued.

“We can’t wait to show you what happens when his path crosses with the Thirteenth Doctor.”

First appearing in 2007 in David Tennant’s second series (specifically the episode Smith and Jones), the Judoon cropped up a few more times over the years (including in child-friendly spin-off the Sarah-Jane Adventures), last popping up in Peter Capaldi’s penultimate series for a couple of cameos.


Will Jodie Whittaker get a new Doctor Who costume?

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who (BBC Pictures)

Apparently the Thirteenth Doctor will get some new variations on her look in the new series, sporting a darker overcoat (and matching socks) for at least one episode instead of the sky-blue number she’s worn to date.

Jodie Whittaker has also been spotted on set in a new jumper with rainbow-coloured cuffs that echoes the lining of her coat, but it’s unclear if this is a new costume choice or something that Whittaker owns personally that just so happens to share design details.


Is Doctor Who season 12 currently filming?

No – production has already concluded on the new series of episodes, with the team filming at Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff and on location over the last 10 months.

“We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped – as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in late 2019.

“We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences.”

The series shot in South Africa for a couple of weeks, as revealed on Doctor Who’s social media accounts. Parts of Cardiff and South Wales were transformed into a Sheffield police station, the streets of Paris and a London government building so far, while Gloucester has been the setting for a Judoon invasion.


Why is there such a long wait for new Doctor Who episodes?

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum (BBC)
Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum (BBC)

Most fans would have expected the next series to debut in autumn 2019, roughly a year after series 12 began airing on BBC1, so they may be confused as to why there’s such a delay.

There’s no official line from the BBC about the long lead-in, but it’s likely the corporation and Chibnall’s team just decided the production window was too short to deliver the series.


Will any more classic monsters come back?

Doctor Who monsters in The Pandorica Opens (BBC)
Doctor Who monsters in The Pandorica Opens (BBC)

Chibnall has suggested that the return of the Daleks in Resolution could be just the first classic Who monster to make a comeback, with others (such as the Cybermen, the Sontarans or the Ice Warriors) potential candidates for stories in the 2020 series.

(The Judoon, despite having appeared a few times in the modern series, had no presence in the classic episodes, so don’t apply for this example).

When pushed on the possibility of other classic monsters, he asked: “Well, did you like it that we brought back the Dalek in that one?”

Faced with cheers from the crowd, he teased: “Well, maybe we’ll do some more then… I’ll have a think.”

He also explained that the absence of old villains in series 11 was partially an attempt to make the first Dalek we see Whittaker face have more impact, so who knows? Maybe he’s employing the same strategy for some other well-known villains.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 in 2020