It’s probably one of the least surprising announcements in Doctor Who history, but for the record it’s now official – the BBC has confirmed that upcoming Who special Legend of the Sea Devils will air on Sunday 17th April, aka Easter Sunday.
The festive airdate had been taken as read by many fans for months, with various online clues and offhand comments from those involved in the special indicating that the bank holiday weekend would be the right fit for Jodie Whittaker’s penultimate adventure.
Still, now we have official confirmation of the scheduling – alongside a new pirate flag image from the episode that'll make a great T-shirt– allowing fans to finally jot the appointment down in their diaries (this time, in pen!).
A new synopsis for the episode reads:
"In a swashbuckling special adventure, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) come face to fin with one of the Doctor’s oldest adversaries: the Sea Devils.
"Why has legendary pirate queen Madam Ching come searching for a lost treasure? What terrifying forces lurk beneath the oceans of the nineteenth century? And did Yaz really have to dress Dan up as a pirate?"
And despite the lack of surprise this time round, the episode’s airdate is still an unusual step from the Who production team.
While the series has sometimes aired regular episodes over the Easter period (often, if airing in spring, the post-2005 revived show launched series premieres that weekend), there haven’t generally been many special episodes designed to cater directly to an Easter bank holiday audience.
The key exception is 2009’s Planet of the Dead starring David Tennant, which aired on Saturday 11th April (the day before Easter Sunday that year) and included a couple of references to Easter. Similarly, 2010’s The Eleventh Hour – Matt Smith’s first full episode, which aired the day before Easter – included a quick reference to the date in dialogue before it was glossed over.
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Still, Legend of the Sea Devils takes things a step further by actually airing on Easter Sunday itself. Only time will tell if the script has any specific references to the holiday, or whether screenwriters Chris Chibnall and Ella Road will have opted for a more timeless feel.
What we do know so far is that the episode will see Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor battling classic monsters the Sea Devils, now apparently engaged in piracy on the South China Sea and threatening locals. We’re to expect swashbuckling fun, snazzy outfits and (thanks to the presence of some real-life buccaneers) a little history lesson.
But who knows? Maybe within all that they’ll have time to squeeze in some chocolate eggs or a giant alien bunny or something. In the world of Doctor Who, anything is possible.