Ahead of Doctor Who’s return to BBC One in 2020, we’ve got plenty of questions about what we can expect from Jodie Whittaker’s next outing as the time-travelling Doctor.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall, the cast and the production team are keeping schtum about where and when the TARDIS will land next series, leaving fans in a frenzy of anticipation about what to expect – but a few subtle clues could suggest some plot threads from 2018’s series 11 will be picked up when the new episodes air next year.
And with that in mind, we’ve assembled the biggest lingering mysteries we hope will be solved when the TARDIS team sets off once more. Starting with…
In ‘The Ghost Monument’, Jodie Whittaker’s second full episode as the Doctor (which also introduced the new TARDIS) a new wrinkle was added to Doctor Who canon – the mysterious Timeless Child discussed by the villainous Remnants.
Referring to their clairvoyant abilities, they told the Doctor: “We see deeper though, further back. The Timeless Child… we see what’s hidden, even from yourself. The outcast, abandoned and unknown…”
At the time we theorised that the Timeless Child could be another Time Lord, a relative of the Doctor, her arch-enemy the Master/Missy (last played by Michelle Gomez) or even the Doctor herself – but by the end of series 11 the mystery had not been revisited again.
So will the Timeless Child be a thread picked up in series 12? We’d say it’s fairly likely – it seems like an odd thing to introduce if Chibnall and his team never intended to revisit it – and even if it’s not fully solved, we’d at least expect to hear another reference to the mystery in series 12.
2. Will we ever actually see the Stenza Empire?
After meeting tooth-faced baddie Tim Shaw/Tzim-Sha in series 11’s first episode, the subsequent week’s story hinted further at the destructive power of his race The Stenza, their love of horrible weapons of war and their ruthlessness in pursuit of conquest.
All of this could led some to assume that the Stenza would be a new race of villains to menace the Doctor – but while we did meet Tzim-Sha again in the series finale, there was still no sign of his alien kin.
So was all that teasing just to set up Tzim-Sha, a character we’d already met and knew, or a genuine tease at the destructive potential of the Stenza? And if it’s the latter, what are the chances they’ll pop up in series 12?
Well, we’d be surprised if they did – Chibnall has suggested the new series will be a balance between returning monsters and new creations, and a species so recently created like the Stenza doesn’t really fall into either camp – but we can’t rule anything out at this early stage.
3. What’s going on with Yaz’s job?
When we first met Mandip Gill’s Yaz in series 11’s first episode, we learnt of her ambition and drive to be a police officer, always asking for bigger and better assignments. However, as the series continues, she opts to keep travelling with the Doctor instead, leaving behind her police career for exciting adventures in time and space.
But does she intend to return to the police force when she’s done? Is she still checking in when she pops home for visits, pulling the odd shift every now and then, or has she actually taken some leave? Given that she’s flying in a time machine, she could technically do either – and showrunner Chibnall has suggested we might find out more about Yaz’s police career in the new series.
“I think that some of these questions may be answered in the forthcoming season,” he said when a fan asked about the topic at a screening – so we’ll take that as confirmation that we haven’t heard the last of Yaz’s job.
4. Will the Cybermen return to haunt the Doctor?
Rumours have been circling for a while that following the return of the Daleks (well, *a* Dalek) in New Year’s Day special ‘Resolution’, the next classic foe faced by the Doctor will be the Cybermen, possibly in a historical story tied in with Mary Shelley’s conception of Frankenstein.
So far, the BBC is remaining tight-lipped about the possibility of a Cybermen return, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see the silver baddies stomp into an episode in 2020. And sources suggest they could have gone through another redesign…
In Doctor Who’s 2019 New Year’s special, the Doctor discovered that the Unified Intelligence Taskforce – aka the international scientific and military organisation that she’s worked alongside for decades defending the Earth – was shut down in a wave of funding cuts.
But is that really the last we’ll see of UNIT given its significance to Doctor Who history? What about its leading lights like Kate Stewart or Osgood, who surely wouldn’t have given up the fight so easily?
For our money, we wouldn’t be surprised if UNIT made a return. Though it’s certainly possible the series just wants to leave all that in the past…
6. Will President Robertson make an appearance?
Series 11 had a habit of introducing villains only to have them wander off at the end of the episode, but by far the biggest question marks hangs over Chris Noth’s businessman Robertson, who was planning a run for US President when he first encounters the Doctor and her friends.
Given these teases, it seems likely that Noth could make a return in the future having been fully elected, posing a greater threat to the team with the full might of the Presidency behind him. Why let him just escape justice otherwise?
For our money, then, ‘Arachnids in the UK’ wasn’t the last we’ll see of Robertson – though given Chris Noth’s busy schedule, it’s possible it could be in a later series than the next one.
7. And finally… have we seen the last of Grace?
Sharon D Clarke’s Grace O’Brien was killed off in the first episode of series 11, but her spirit lived on in the series, the character appearing to Graham (Bradley Walsh) during a return visit home and then again in a parallel world where a powerful being used her form to communicate with and manipulate our heroes.
But will this be the last we see of Clarke’s Grace? While Graham seemed to get some closure towards the end of the last series, we wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan (Tosin Cole) had another supernatural reunion with his grandma before his time on the series is done, facilitated by the weird and wonderful worlds and situations the TARDIS team find themselves in.
Assuming, of course, that a bit of time-travel chicanery doesn’t mean that they’d run into the real, living Grace before her death anyway…
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in early 2020