Has the BBC just revealed the return of a crucial Doctor Who character?
That’s the question on many fans’ lips following the publication of a cast list for the series 12 finale, which the BBC released alongside a plot synopsis for the secretive episode 10.
For the most part, the names are what we’d expect – Jodie Whittaker and her team, guest actor Julie Graham – but the addition of a character named “Fakout” played by unknown actor “Barack Stemis” raised a few eyebrows.
Firstly, Fakout sounds an awful lot like Fakeout, suggesting this character name is a red herring, while if you look up Barack Stemis the actor has no credits to his name.
What he does have, however, is a name that rearranges to something else – and when RadioTimes.com rearranged the letters they spelled out the phrase “Master is back.” In other words, it would seem that the series is hinting at the return of Sacha Dhawan’s Master, the evil Time Lord last seen in Spyfall – Part Two.
Plenty of fans online (including Matt Whelan, @CultBoxTV, @CompanionsofWho and @eightstardis among many others) also noticed the connection, and were quick to speculate about its meaning.
‘Barack Stemis’ playing a character called ‘Fakout’
Let’s rearrange those letters, shall we?
M, A, S, T, E, R , I , S , B , A , C, K
— ???????????????? ???? (@_MrMattWhelan_) February 19, 2020
— Safe Space Who ???? (@SafeSpaceDrWho) February 19, 2020
the finale cast list,,,
master is back…
— jay (@twelvesoswaId) February 19, 2020
Of course, it’s possible that this isn’t the clue we all think it is, and that there’s a very downcast Mr Stemis out there who had thought Who would be his big break – but somehow, that seems unlikely.
barack stemis when he finds out doctor who fans don’t think he exists pic.twitter.com/uYuPJgxCg7
— eleanor (@raggedymvn) February 19, 2020
After all, Doctor Who has a history of concealing the return of the Master through secret codenames and anagrams (most famously, Anthony Ainley’s Master was a surprise in an episode after being credited as “Neil Toynay”, an anagram of Tony Ainley), so it seems like showrunner Chris Chibnall probably decided to add this apparent pseudonym as an homage to those earlier deceptions. In an age of Google and IMDb, though, it’s a ruse more easily unravelled.
Still, given that most fans had expected Dhawan to return for the end of the series it’s not that big a spoiler anyway – Dhawan wasn’t even announced as playing any character or included on the cast list ahead of his appearance in Spyfall Part One, so they could have gone down that route again if they wanted to hide it entirely – and if this is true, it’s clearly not a secret the production team are too worried about getting out.
Though again, if anyone does have contact details for Barack Stemis’ agent please do feel free to pass them on…
Doctor Who continues on BBC One at 7:10pm on Sundays