Does this surprise Doctor Who actor return tie into the Timeless Child mystery?

Game of Thrones’ Ian Gelder could play a key part in the ongoing series arc

Ian Gelder in Doctor Who series 12 (BBC)

Doctor Who’s Timeless Child mystery has become the biggest talking point of the current series, with the ongoing arc inspiring all sorts of theories and predictions from fans and critics alike.

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Is the Timeless Child a Time Lord, a former version of the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), a being responsible for the power of the Time Lords or something else entirely? And what about this secret was so bad that it could inspire the Master (Sacha Dhawan) to destroy Gallifrey forever?

For now, the truth remains elusive – but a surprise new casting for the series could shed a little more light on the mystery in coming weeks, as revealed in a new trailer released by the BBC.

While there’s a fair bit of the rest of the series teased by the new footage, the bit that particularly caught our eye was the sight of actor Ian Gelder, known for appearances in His Dark Materials and Game of Thrones in recent years, standing menacingly inside the TARDIS (possibly appearing from swirling smoke, which is very fancy).

The fact of his casting alone would be interesting given that he’s played a significant on-screen role in the Whoniverse before – he was the amoral Mr Dekker in Torchwood: Children of Earth – but his surprise appearance attracts new resonance when you consider his connection to the Timeless Child arc.

Remember the first time this mystery was hinted at, back in 2018? The “Timeless Child” was first mentioned to the Doctor by psychic, rag-like creatures The Remnants in series 11’s The Ghost Monument, with the monsters telling her they saw “deeper though, further back…The Timeless Child… we see what’s hidden, even from yourself. The outcast, abandoned and unknown…”

All very spooky – and delivered in voiceover by none other than Ian Gelder.

Surely this can’t be a coincidence. Surely, bringing back the man who first mentioned the Timeless Child suggests that he’ll play a larger role in resolving that mystery towards the end of the series? Maybe Gelder will play the man who created the Remnants, or someone with some psychic connection to them, who holds Gallifrey’s great secret in his grasp.

Back in 2018, it did seem odd to get an actor as experienced as Gelder to just deliver a few lines of voiceover, so who’s to say this wasn’t the plan all along? After all, the dialogue for the Remnants could have been added in voiceover very late in the day, when showrunner Chris Chibnall was already well into the writing stage for the current series. Maybe Chibnall picked Gelder because he already had a spot in mind for him in the next run of episodes?

Look, we appreciate this could all be a bit of a stretch, and it’s eminently possible that Gelder’s role in the series doesn’t relate to a quick voiceover gig he did nearly two years ago at all. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, and his casting came about just because the Doctor Who team enjoyed the lines he recorded for the Ghost Monument.

Still, we can’t help but think that when it comes to Doctor Who arcs, nothing happens by accident. We’ll be watching Mr Gelder very closely from now on…

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Doctor Who continues on BBC One on Sundays