Doctor Who’s current series is coming to an end with an explosive two-part story and an extended 65-minute final episode – and ahead of their airing, series boss Chis Chibnall has revealed some new details about what we can expect from episodes nine and 10.
Featuring both the return of classic Who foes The Cybermen and an apparent answer to the series’ ongoing Timeless Child mystery, the episodes (called Ascension of the Cybermen and The Timeless Children) currently remain top-secret, though Chibnall was able to tease a few elements of the adventure.
“Ascension of the Cybermen is set at the end of the great cyber war,” the head writer told Doctor Who Magazine.
“This is a conflict that’s reduced both the Cybermen and humanity to barely anything. It’s the last remnants of the Cybermen against the last refugees of humanity in this corner of the universe. These refugees are on the run from the particularly relentless and ruthless Cybermen who are on their trail.
“They’re relentless, single-minded and brutal,” Chibnall continued, echoing earlier comments he made about the classic foe’s return to the sci-fi series.
“That’s the essence of their ‘monster personality’. The nightmare is how do you escape them? Because they’re around every corner and they just won’t stop. The humans are desperate and the Cybermen just keep going.”
“Ascension of the Cybermen is one of those episodes where the Doctor and her friends are all on the run from different threats. We head into the next episode with the jeopardy of whether they’re ever going to meet up again…”
And when it comes to that next episode, The Timeless Children, Chibnall was holding his cards even closer to his chest.
“I can’t tell you anything about this episode,” he said. “The Timeless Child is mentioned as far back as The Ghost Monument , and the final episode of this series is where some of those questions get answered. It’s a huge, emotional finale with lots of Cybermen. And it runs for 65 minutes.
“It’s both epic, and personal. This is what you’re always looking for in a series finale – the way the big, universe-threatening story impacts on the personal lives of your characters. And categorically that’s what’s happening in this episode.”
“In Spyfall Part One [the Doctor and her companions are] buoyant and they’re having fun. Where we leave them at the end of episode 10 is an entirely different place.”
Finally, Chibnall concluded that like this series’ shock fifth episode (which revealed a previously unknown version of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor), this was definitely a story you wouldn’t want to be spoiled ahead of time.
“Watch this episode live,” he said. “Or as soon as you can…”
So will the truth about the Timeless Child’s identity be revealed? Will the Master’s (Sacha Dhawan) grand plan come to fruition? And will the ‘other’ Doctor played by Jo Martin in the series’ fifth episode make a dramatic return of her own?
Well, there’s not long to wait now until we find out. Somehow, though, we feel like these weeks are going to creep by…
Doctor Who Magazine issue 548 is available now. Doctor Who continues on BBC One at 7:10pm on Sundays