Doctor Who: the “Timeless Child” mystery could return in new series

Exclusive: Showrunner Chris Chibnall hints that the secret from the Doctor’s past will rear its head in series 12

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who: The Ghost Monument (BBC, HF)

While Jodie Whittaker’s first Doctor Who series didn’t absolutely fall over itself to create arcs and mysteries, there was one intriguing plot thread never solved during the episodes – who or what is The Timeless Child?

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For those who don’t remember, this question arose after Whittaker’s second episode The Ghost Monument aired on BBC One, when terrifying bandage-like monsters The Remnants (who were somewhat clairvoyant) hinted that the name referred to some dark secret from the Doctor’s past.

“We see deeper though, further back,” they whispered.

“The Timeless Child… we see what’s hidden, even from yourself. The outcast, abandoned and unknown…”

Clearly, this seemed to be setting up an interesting plot thread for the series – but after this brief mention it was never referred to again, left dangling by the series’ final episode.

Now, though, the mystery could be about to be solved – at least according to series showrunner Chris Chibnall, who was very coy when asked about whether this particular enigma would appear in the new series.

“I don’t know… OK, I do know,” Chibnall exclusively told RadioTimes.com.

“You know, these are always good questions to be asking.”

Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who series 12 (BBC)
Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who series 12 (BBC)

Last year, we theorised that based on the description, the Timeless Child could refer to the Doctor herself, some other Time Lord (e.g. old nemesis The Master/Missy) or some new alien entirely – but whatever the truth, it could be that we’ll be finding out sooner rather than later.

And based on other comments Chibnall made to us earlier in the interview, the answer to the mystery could be more than the Doctor can handle…

“There is a new challenge that the Doctor has to face this year which is pretty profound,” Chibnall told RadioTimes.com.

“I think this Doctor goes into different territories this year. But also she’s faced with very different challenges, and they’re some very very big challenges this year.

“You’ll see the Doctor have to face down some big… things,” he added.

“And that, by necessity, takes Jodie’s Doctor into territory we haven’t seen her in before.”

And whether those challenges are tied into the Timeless Child mystery or not, we’re sure fans will be watching avidly.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC One on New Year’s Day at 6:55pm