Meet the cast of the Doctor Who festive special

A returning favourite, two departing companions and several guest stars join the Doctor for the Revolution of the Daleks

Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks

There isn’t too long to go now until the Doctor and her companions return in the Doctor Who Christmas special (which actually airs on New Year’s Day) and all the signs are pointing towards the Revolution of the Daleks being a pretty memorable episode.

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The special will not only mark the final episode for Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole as companions Graham O’Brien and Ryan Sinclair, but also sees the long-awaited return of fan favourite John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness, following a brief cameo in series 12 episode Fugitive of the Judoon.

There are also a number of other stars, including long-time Doctor Who star Nicholas Briggs, who will once again lend his voice to the Daleks, as well as a guest turns from Harriet Walter and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.

Read on for everything you need to know about all the stars who will be joining Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor for another adventure through time and space.

Jodie Whittaker plays the Doctor

Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who
BBC

Who is the Doctor? A character who surely needs no introduction, the eccentric and loveable Time Lord is one of popular culture’s most enduring figures, and is currently in her thirteenth iteration – her first as a woman.

Despite having been on our screens for almost 60 years, we’re still constantly learning new things about the character, and this was never more true than in the most recent series, in which we learnt that contrary to even her own belief the Doctor is not from Gallifrey, which we’d always been led to believe was the character’s home.

At the start of the special, we find the Doctor locked away in alien prison after the events at the end of series 12 – away from her companions and unable to help when a major new threat presents itself on Earth.

What else has Jodie Whittaker been in? Whittaker has now been in the role for two years, and unsurprisingly in that time she hasn’t found much time for other acting gigs, but she has a long list of acting credits before her tenure in the TARDIS, including notable roles in Broadchurch, the Black Mirror episode The Entire History of You and 2011 film Attack the Block.

Mandip Gill plays Yasmin Khan

Mandip Gill Yaz

Who is Yasmin Khan? Yasmin – or Yaz to her friends – has been accompanying the Doctor on her travels for two years now, and in that time we’ve slowly learnt more and more about the character.

A somewhat disillusioned police officer from Sheffield before she first encountered the Doctor, her time in the TARDIS has seen Yaz overcome all sorts of monsters, confront her grandfather’s history during the Partition of India, and explore her mental health struggles – something which is set to continue to be delved into in the festive special and beyond.

What else has Mandip Gill been in? Before landing the role on Doctor Who, Gill was most famous for her stint in Hollyoaks, where she played Phoebe McQueen from 2012 to 2015. Recent roles include the interactive film 5 Dates, which was shot in lockdown, and a supporting turn alongside Uma Thurman in Apple TV+ series Suspicion, which is currently in production.

Tosin Cole plays Ryan Sinclair

Tosin Cole plays Ryan Sinclair
BBC

Who is Ryan Sinclair? Another of the Doctor’s companions, Ryan was a warehouse worker living in Sheffield before he entered the TARDIS shortly after witnessing the death of his grandmother in the series 11 opener.

In the time since he’s grown closer to his step-grandfather Graham and showcased great bravery in spite of his dyspraxia, but his time on the show is coming to an end, with the special set to mark his final appearance as a main cast member.

What else has Tosin Cole been in? Cole had appeared in a number of soaps before landing the Doctor Who role, having been a series regular in Hollyoaks and Hollyoaks Later from 2011-2012, and earlier appearing in EastEnders: E20 as Sol Levi. His first role post-Who will see him take the lead role in a US drama titled 61st Street, which tells the story of a promising high-school athlete with a bright future who’s accused of murdering a police officer during a drug bust gone wrong.

Bradley Walsh plays Graham O’Brien

Bradley Walsh plays Graham O'Brien
BBC

Who is Graham O’Brien? Ryan’s step-grandfather, Graham is a retired bus driver who was reeling from the death of his wife Grace when he first entered the TARDIS at the start of series 11.

In the time since, Graham has provided plenty of comic relief but also a fair share of poignant moments, as he dealt with grief and also his past cancer diagnosis – from which he made a full recovery. Like Ryan, Graham will not be part of the cast in series 13, and so the festive special is set to be his last appearance on the show.

What else has Bradley Walsh been in? One of the most familiar faces in British television, Walsh has done just about every job possible in entertainment: he’s starred in Coronation Street, presented popular game shows The Chase and Cash Trapped, and even released a couple of albums (and that’s not even including his brief football career). He’s also set to present a one-off revival of hit ’80s game show Blankety Blank on BBC One this Christmas Day.

Guest stars

John Barrowman plays Captain Jack Harkness

John Barrowman
BBC

Who is Captain Jack Harkness? A hugely popular character amongst Who fandom, Captain Jack was a recurring cast member on the series during the first four series of the revival and led the cast of popular spinoff Torchwood between 2006 and 2011.

The immortal Time Agent caused shockwaves when he made a brief cameo in series 12 episode Fugitive of the Judoon earlier in the year, and is set to play a more central role in the festive special.

“In Revolution of the Daleks we meet a slightly older, wiser Captain Jack,” Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall told Doctor Who Magazine. “He’s there for the fam and he’s got emotional knowledge for them that is useful to impart.”

What else has John Barrowman been in? The Scottish-American actor has had many roles on British TV and is also well known for his work on stage. Earlier in 2020 he joined the judging panel of Dancing on Ice, of which he is a former contestant, while in years gone by he was a judge on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical contests How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything. It is, however, his role as Captain Jack that Barrowman remains best known for – and he’s been trying to engineer a return for quite some time.

Nicholas Briggs is the voice of the Daleks

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks - TX: 01/01/2021 - Episode: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks - Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Dalek - (C) BBC - Photographer: James Pardon
BBC

Who are the Daleks? Inarguably the Doctor’s most iconic and formidable foe, the Daleks first appeared in the second ever Doctor Who serial back in 1963 and have plagued the Doctor ever since, although this will be their first appearance in two years, since 2019 New Year’s Day special Resolution.

Throughout the years the Daleks have gone through many design changes – including getting a brand new look for this special – but they are still largely the same creatures, complete with their famously chilling delivery of the line “Exterminate.”

What else has Nicholas Briggs been in? Briggs is one of the most frequent Doctor Who stars, having voiced Daleks, Cybermen, Judoon, Ice Warriors, the Nestene Consciousness and Zygons in the revived series.

Chris Noth plays Jack Robertson

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks - TX: 01/01/2021 - Episode: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Robertson (CHRIS NOTH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall
BBC

Who is Jack Robertson? American businessman Jack previously appeared as a villain in the series 11 episode Arachnids in the UK – and now he’s back for more.

In his previous appearance Jack was shown to have presidential aspirations, and his dodgy hotel dealings were responsible for the rise of of giant mutant spiders. It’s not yet been disclosed precisely what he’s been up to since, but it will certainly be intriguing to find out when the special airs.

What else has Chris Noth been in? Noth is well-known for his appearances on a number of popular US TV series, with his most famous roles including Detective Mike Logan on Law & Order, Big on Sex and the City , and Peter Florrick on The Good Wife.

Harriet Walter plays Jo Patterson

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 19:25:01 on 29/11/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks - TX: 01/01/2021 - Episode: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Leo Rugazzi (NATHAN STEWART-JARRETT), Jo Patterson (DAME HARRIET WALTER), Robertson (CHRIS NOTH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall
BBC

Who is Jo Patterson? So far only the character’s name and a couple of stills have been released, as well as her appearance in the Doctor Who trailer, so it’s still uncertain exactly who Jo is, but the signs point towards here being the Prime Minister – one who believes using Daleks as defence drones is acceptable government policy…

What else has Harriet Walter been in? An icon of stage and screen, Walter has appeared in all manner of productions over the years, with highlights including Sense and Sensibility, Atonement and the first six series of Law & Order: UK. Recent roles have included being part of the main cast of Belgravia and season two of Killing Eve, as well as a memorable guest role in Succession. She was also one of the 12 actors to perform an Alan Bennett Talking Heads monologue for BBC One earlier in the year.

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett plays Leo Rugazzi

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks - TX: 01/01/2021 - Episode: Doctor Who Special 2020 - Revolution Of The Daleks (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Leo Rugazzi (NATHAN STEWART-JARRETT) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Who is Leo Rugazzi? Few details have been released about Leo, but based on what we’ve seen from the images and trailer it appears as if he’s working with Robertson – although it’s still unclear in what capacity.

What else has Nathan Stewart-Jarrett been in? Stewart-Jarret is probably best known for his lead roles in a couple of popular Channel 4 series, Misfits and Utopia. More recently he had a recurring role in The Trial of Christine Keeler, and he also appeared in an episode of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ Dracula.

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Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks airs on New Year’s Day at 6:45pm on BBC One. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide, or our guide to the best Christmas TV for 2020.