When is Doctor Who season 13 on TV? What could happen in the next series and who will return?

Will Captain Jack be back? Will there be new companions? And what about the Daleks? Everything you need to know about Jodie Whittaker’s next adventures

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**STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 02/03/2020 20:00:01** Judoon Captain Pol-Kon-Don, The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC  - Photographer: James Pardon

Now that Doctor Who series 12 has come to a close fans aren’t resting on their laurels, with all attention turning to just one question – what can we expect in the next series for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor?

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And while a lot of series 13 remains under wraps, a few key details have been revealed already, with key production members, monsters and returning characters already confirmed for when Doctor Who returns.

Here are a few of the most crucial details we’ve learned about the 13th Doctor’s continuing adventures…

When is Doctor Who series 13 coming to TV?

Doctor Who - Jodie Whittaker
BBC / Ben Blackall

While there hasn’t been an official announcement, RadioTimes.com understands that series 13 is planned to begin filming later in 2020 (possibly September), followed by the usual 10-month shoot.

Following from this, Doctor Who is expected to return to BBC One in autumn 2021, possibly in the same October-December time-slot as the 2018 series.

“It will be next year sometime, hopefully, unless my holiday goes on for a really long time, which is always tempting,” series boss Chris Chibnall told EW.

Prior to that, though, Chibnall revealed that we can expect a one-off special, expected to air in late 2020.

Speaking of which…

Is there a Doctor Who Christmas special in 2020?

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Chris Chibnall has confirmed that a festive special called Revolution of the Daleks is coming either in late 2020 or early 2021, though at the moment the scheduling hasn’t been finalised.

“I don’t know when they’re going to put it on yet, otherwise we’d tell you!” he said.

“But rest assured, the Doctor and her friends will be back for a one-off extended Special around Christmas and New Year.

“There will be Daleks. There will be exterminations. Thrills, laughter, tears. You know. The usual. See you at the end of the year.”

Given that the last festive special aired on New Year’s Day 2019 (and series 12 began the same day a year later) it seems likely that Revolution of the Daleks will be released on January 1st also, but who knows – maybe a shift back to a Christmas special is planned instead.

All we really know about the special at the moment is that the Daleks will be back alongside Whittaker and companions Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, with Nick Briggs returning to provide the voice of the Daleks.

“It’s already been filmed and I was on set for it,” Briggs told RadioTimes.com. “It certainly wasn’t a single Dalek. And there were quite a few interesting challenges, and some interesting location work as well.”

One clue for what to expect from the special could come from mysterious Dalek scenes shot in late 2019 in Bristol, which saw the Doctor’s greatest enemies apparently attacking each other on Clifton Suspension Bridge.

This could tie into the “Revolution” of the Daleks title (one group of Daleks rising up against another), so perhaps we’ll see a Dalek Civil War when who returns at the end of the year.

“All I can tell you is when the caption came up at the end of the last episode saying it was Revolution of the Daleks that was news to me, because when I read it it just had a code number on it so I didn’t know what it was called,” Briggs told us.

“But it is a very apposite title. It fits perfectly – but not in the way that you’d think. I can see why they’ve called it that.”

Series 12’s final scenes also provided a clue as to how the adventure will start, seeing the Doctor trapped in a Judoon prison as her companions landed back on Earth. We’re sure it won’t be too long until they’re back together again.

Will coronavirus affect Doctor Who series 13?

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The COVID-19 pandemic is shutting down all sorts of TV productions, but at time of writing there’s no indication it will materially affect Doctor Who.

As noted above, Doctor Who series 13 filming isn’t planned to begin until autumn 2020, and festive special Revolution of the Daleks has already been shot ahead of its late 2020/early 2021 airdate.

Of course, the lengthy postproduction work required in making the special – including additional dialogue recording (ADR), editing and VFX work – is presumably still to be completed, so it could be that there will be some disruption in this area.

Still, overall Doctor Who is in better shape than many other TV shows at the moment with the next special already in the can and the upcoming filming schedule yet to be disrupted. So keep hopeful!

Who will star in Doctor Who series 13? Are Jodie Whittaker or Bradley Walsh leaving?

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Incumbent Doctor Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she’ll be back for the next series, reuniting alongside Chris Chibnall for a new series of adventures.

“I’m doing another season,” she said.

“That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie!”

However, it’s less clear whether companions Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill will join her, with rumours swirling of one or all of the TARDIS team jumping ship before series 13 airs (though all three are confirmed to appear in the upcoming festive special).

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Cole and Walsh’s involvements are particularly in doubt, with the pair rumoured to be leaving after the special having booked big new roles in US legal drama 61st Street and a remake of The Darling Buds of May respectively.

According to the rumours, the series would continue with Mandip Gill’s Yaz and possibly one or more other new companions travelling alongside the Doctor, with occasional guest appearances from Cole and Walsh.

“I’d love to [come back]” Gill previously told RadioTimes.com. “But again, because of the secrecy no-one ever knows what’s going on.”

“I’m just happy to have been part of two [series],” she said, “and to have been able to explore Yaz. But I would love to be part of it,” she emphasised.

Meanwhile, Sacha Dhawan has said he’s open to returning again as the Doctor’s nemesis The Master, assuming the fans are keen to have him back.

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Sacha Dhawan as The Master - Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Sacha Dhawan as The Master – Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America

“Obviously I’d love to come back and do it,” he told RadioTimes.com. “If they ask me, that is. It all depends on how episode ten goes down.

“So far the fans like it, but the character’s so unpredictable, it’s whether or not they’ll enjoy this facet of the character. Fingers crossed.”

Towards the end of the series 12 finale there was also a hint that the Master may have escaped another certain death.

“All of you, through here, now!” he can be heard shouting as the Death Particle activates, suggesting that he may have shepherded his new Cyber-Army into a waiting TARDIS and escaped from Gallifrey.

Will John Barrowman return to Doctor Who?

Jodie Whittaker and John Barrowman in Doctor Who (BBC)
Jodie Whittaker and John Barrowman in Doctor Who (BBC)

The surprise comeback for John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness was a fan-favourite moment of series 12 – but could Barrowman return again for his long-awaited reunion with the Doctor?

“I mean if they ever ask Jack back, like I said I’ll come back at the drop of a hat,” Barrowman told RadioTimes.com.

“Hopefully I’ll get to work with Jodie, yeah. That would be incredible,” he continued.

“But again, I don’t want to say too much about what the plotline is, because who knows? Who knows what’ll happen?

“He says ‘I’ll be watching – if she needs me, I’ll be there,’” Barrowman added. “So it’s kind of left on a cliffhanger to see what happens.

“You can read into it all you want, but I’m not saying a thing!”

John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who (BBC)
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who (BBC)

Later, Chibnall noted that we “categorically” wouldn’t see Jack again in series 12.

“But who knows when he might pop up again?” he continued. “We love Captain Jack, we love John Barrowman.

“I hope that won’t be his last appearance and that at some point he gets to meet the 13th Doctor.”

But could this be a hint from Chibnall that Jack will appear in the Doctor Who festive special? Fans have noted that in 2018, the screenwriter used similarly evasive language to say that no classic monsters would encounter Whittaker’s TARDIS team in series 11.

Later, when a Dalek appeared in the 2019 New Year’s special, Chibnall could claim he hadn’t technically lied given that the special was separate from series 11.

And if he’s using the same tricks again, fans might do well to expect a visit from Captain Jack this Yuletide season. And that’s not the only clue that he could be back…

What will happen in Doctor Who series 13?

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Plot details of the yet-to-be-filmed series 13 remain unknown, though Chibnall has revealed that clues about what to expect are present in the series 12 finale if you know where to find them – and apparently the plan for the next series is “big” and “ambitious.”

“We are already planning the stories,” Chibnall said.

“Once you see the end of this series, you’ll realize there are some stories we’re already setting in train for next series. We have very big, ambitious plans for our third series together.”

Series 12 concludes with the Doctor arrested and imprisoned within a Judoon prison, which suggests her escape and reunion with her TARDIS “fam” will form part of the upcoming Christmas special.

Other revelations in the finale episode The Timeless Children – that the Doctor was a being from another dimension who was harvested by the Time Lords for regeneration, and subsequently lived countless lifetimes that were later removed from her mind – are likely to be picked up in series 13 itself.

Perhaps we’ll see the Doctor investigate her past self and work out what missions she completed for the Division, or where she came from in the first place.

It also seems likely that we’ll see more from the “new” incarnation of the Doctor (Jo Martin) introduced in series 12 episode Fugitive of the Judoon, alongside Barrowman’s Captain Jack if he makes another comeback.

Who will write Doctor Who series 13?

Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall (BBC)
Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall (BBC)

Series showrunner Chris Chibnall has confirmed he’ll be back in charge for Jodie Whittaker’s third series, following earlier rumours that he might leave the sci-fi drama behind.

“I do know I’m coming back for a third season,” Chibnall said. “Yeah, absolutely.”

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It’s currently unknown whether other series 12 writers like Vinay Patel, Pete McTighe, Ed Hime, Maxine Alderton, Charlene James or Nina Metivier will also return, or whether series 11’s Malorie Blackman and Joy Wilkinson could make a comeback.