Doctor Who would be nothing without its rogues gallery of new and classic alien foes for the Doctor and her team to face off with – and apparently, Jodie Whittaker’s second series as the Time Lord will be one of the most monster-packed years yet.
Featuring the return of old favourites like the Cybermen and the Judoon alongside “absolutely terrifying” new creatures, series 12 looks set to have us all huddling behind the sofa. But before that, we caught up with the cast and creative team for an exclusive preview of what to expect from the villains of Who this year.
Check out our video preview with stars Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill now, then head below to read extended quotes from showrunner Chris Chibnall and actor Bradley Walsh.
“It’s got scale, it’s got fun. It’s got some old monsters, it’s got some new monsters,” Chibnall said of the new series.
“So the traditional Doctor Who mix turned up to 11, this year. Or 13!”
And first up in that mix – the ever-upgrading Cybermen…
Previously, Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall hinted that the Cybermen in the new series would be a “different” and “relentless” take on the emotionless cyborgs – and according to the stars, these new models (glimpsed looking pretty rusty in the series trailer) made for an intimidating on-set presence.
“It was scary – they’re massive!” Whittaker told RadioTimes.com. “It’s handy that they’re [physically] there as well – because with the Pting episode [‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’] or the Spiders episode [‘Arachnids in the UK’], you’re guessing.
“But obviously the Cybermen are right in front of you. So there’s a lot of instinctive reaction to go with.”
“It’s nice, because that’s that classic Doctor Who villain,” Tosin Cole said. “Even though we’ve done it for a year, now it’s like we’ve definitely cemented our way in this universe because we’re facing the Daleks last year, and now we’re facing the Cybermen this year.”
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“And with a really exciting episode as well,” Whittaker added.
“I think we’ve got a really nice story for them. It’s really exciting,” Chibnall told RadioTimes.com. “I think this year with the Cybermen I had a specific idea I wanted to do. It sort of joined up with something.
“It’s not necessarily the Cybermen per se as a metaphor for something,” he continued. “I think there’s a tiny little shard in that story – but there’s something in every story that resonates.
“You’ll be getting Cybermen this year, you’ll have to wait and see whether they’re new, whether they’re old, what they are. But you’re definitely getting Cybermen.”
Another returning species this year is the Judoon, a race of rhino-like law enforcement-loving aliens first introduced opposite David Tennant’s Doctor in 2007 – and unlike the Cybermen, they came to the story they appear in a little bit later in the planning process.
“With the Judoon, there was a story that we were noodling around on anyway,” Chibnall said.
“And then it was like ‘Oh, if you add the Judoon to that, that’s awesome!’”
“The Judoon are back – they’ve popped up in Gloucester,” Whittaker said, noting it was a “really exciting” episode.
“They’ve got some presence. And when there’s a few of them powering towards you it’s very intimidating.”
“That’s a really good episode actually,” co-star Cole added.
New (and terrifying) Doctor Who monsters
A new monster in Doctor Who series 12 (BBC)
But of course, fans can also expect a host of new monsters, baddies and alien nasties in the new series as well as the old favourites, with the trailer promising spider-like giant aliens, a foe who can push through the doors of the TARDIS and more.
Apparently it’s one of these new monsters that makes for the scariest episode in the 2020 series.
“There’s one that’s really scary,” said series star Mandip Gill. “The fear factor, it’s really there. And that was a monster that was actually there, so we didn’t have to lie this time.
“I was proper shook,” added Cole.
“I mean, Brad bricked it!” laughed Whittaker.
“I’ve got to say, be prepared for the monsters,” Bradley Walsh previously told RadioTimes.com. “Because there are some monsters that will absolutely make your hair curl.
“There’s a couple of monsters that they’ve come up with that are absolutely terrifying – and I mean terrifying.”
“Yeah, there’s some pretty scary ones,” Chibnall agreed, revealing that some of the production team working on the episodes after filming had been quite unnerved by certain new creatures (who, as Gill notes, were achieved in-camera rather than in post-production using visual effects).
“I think it’s very important to ensure that the sofa is enough distance away from the wall that you and your loved ones can just get behind it when necessary,” he added.
“Just do a little sofa check before the series starts.”
Sounds like a monstrously good idea to us…
Doctor Who returns to BBC One on Wednesday 1st January at 6:55pm