After a year away from screens, fans will be excited to see Doctor Who return on Christmas Day for appropriately titled festive special The Return of Doctor Mysterio – but it’s what’s coming next that has us really intrigued.
The new full series of the BBC sci-fi stalwart will kick off in spring 2017, and by the sounds of it things will be a little bit different as head writer Steven Moffat prepares for his exit and we’re introduced to new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie).
So with that in mind, here’s what you can expect from series ten of Doctor Who – including some changes that are afoot…
New companion = new start
Obviously, the big change in series 10 will be the arrival of new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), who skips the Christmas special to make her debut in the first episode next year.
However, it seems like the Doctor Who team are also trying to frame the Bill era as a kind of soft reboot for the show, taking it back to basics after years of continuity that some more casual viewers have derided as confusing.
“I want it to feel like episode 1 of a brand new show,” Moffat said of Bill’s first episode, apparently called A Star in Her Eye. “I want to leave just as it’s all beginning…”
“It’s a whole different kind of energy,” Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi added at a recent screening of the Christmas episode.
“Because [Bill’s] character is, ah…. she doesn’t know anything about the world of Doctor Who, so in a way it’s a sort of reboot, because we take this back to its roots.”
“It is essentially this mysterious stranger from outer space with his time and space machine, whisking Bill off into corners and blowing up monsters.”
This kind of resetting has been utilised by Steven Moffat before at the start of Matt Smith’s time as the Eleventh Doctor (back in 2010), but only time will tell how much of a fresh start Bill will really bring and how many viewers can be tempted back.
Much more Nardole
When the return of Matt Lucas’s odd character Nardole was announced, following his introduction in 2015 episode The Husbands of River Song, many fans were confused, questioning why a one-off comedy relief character from a Christmas special was coming back.
Their befuddlement only increased as it became clear that he was also going to have a larger role as an extra companion in the 2010 series – and now Steven Moffat has suggested that it’s grown even more during shooting.
“He was contracted for certain episodes [of the 2017 series], and he’s crept into far more of them,” said Moffat (via DoctorWhoTV).
“I think he’s going to end up being in all of them, in fact, because we love him.”
In other words, it’s best to get used to the idea of Nardole being around, because by the sounds of things he’s not going anywhere.
12 is the magic number
There will be twelve episodes in the new series, followed by 2017’s Christmas special (which will be Steven Moffat’s final time in charge of Doctor Who). Unlike last year, however, there will be fewer two-part episodes, with only a couple scattered around the series.
Peter Capaldi has already promised us a monster that’ll make us afraid of creaking floorboards, while other rumours include the presence of deadly emoji creatures and a terrifying giant snake living under the Thames.
As we know from the video that announced Pearl Mackie as the new companion (which will form part of an episode), the Daleks are coming back. Did you ever expect anything else?
We’d also be surprised if a few other familiar foes didn’t pop back in for a story or two to mark Mr Moffat’s farewell series.
Returning Doctor Who writers
Frank Cottrell-Boyce, the man behind series eight’s In the Forest of the Night, is back to write the second episode of the series, with Face the Raven’s Sarah Dollard also returning for the third (set in Victorian London) and Catherine Tregenna (Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks) back onboard too.
Jamie Mathieson, who wrote Flatline and Mummy on the Orient Express for series eight, is similarly making a comeback, writing an episode that Steven Moffat described as “scary and funny” with “awesome monsters and a savage line in satire,” alongside Being Human creator Toby Whithouse, who previously penned paradoxical 2015 double episode Under the Lake/Before the Flood and is doing just a single episode this series (probably number eight).
All that, AND the series is bringing back a writer from the classic era of Doctor Who – Rona Munro, who penned 1970s episode Survival and is now back for a story called The Eaters of Light.
Oh, and Moffat’s Sherlock collaborator Mark Gatiss is writing an episode, of course. Mark Gatiss is always writing an episode.
New faces (and writers)
The only debut writer announced so far is Doctor Foster scribe Mike Bartlett, but he’s not the only Who newcomer, with a host of first-time guest stars booked for series ten.
Most prominent among these is Poirot star David Suchet, who plays a mysterious character called The Landlord (above), with Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps’ Ralf Little also set to join an episode (probably the second).
And returning Missy!
Fans will be happy to see the return of Michelle Gomez’s evil Time Lady Missy, who last appeared in 2015 episode The Witch’s Familiar.
“Oh, of course Missy will be back! How could she not be?” Steven Moffat said of the return, while Michelle Gomez added: “I can say that I will be doing the next season.”
According to Peter Capaldi, the Doctor has some big challenges ahead of him – and they may be coming from outer space.
“I love seeing the Doctor being really confronted with the most cosmic of challenges,” Capaldi told RadioTimes.com earlier this year.
“I love him really battling it out to save the universe from some awful threat which is cosmic. And I think we’ve got quite a lot of that coming up, so I’m looking forward to taking the Doctor to the forefront of the cosmic battlefield.”
And all sorts of different locations
As noted above, one episode in the new series will be set in Victorian London, while others are said to take place on alien worlds (with filming in Valencia, Spain, possibly standing in for another planet), during ancient history and on present-day Earth.
And finally… the end of Peter Capaldi?
The question of whether current Time Lord Peter Capaldi will continue in the role after this series remains an open one, with some rumours suggesting that new showrunner Chris Chibnall will start afresh with a new Doctor and companion but Capaldi himself apparently still weighing his options.
Appropriately enough, only time (and space) will tell if he’ll make it to series 11 – but even if he doesn’t this action-packed series sounds like a great send-off.
Doctor Who will return to BBC1 in Spring 2017