When is Doctor Who season 12 on TV? What's going to happen? Who's in the cast?
More Daleks! The Judoon return! A Cyberman attack! And what about that new Doctor? Here’s everything you need to know about Doctor Who's current series as it airs on TV
Jodie Whittaker and her Doctor Who team are currently zipping around time and space solving problems and saving lives, and we're currently heading towards the last episode of the BBC sci-fi drama's twelfth modern series.
But as everthere are still plenty of questions that need to be answered – it is called Doctor WHO after all – so what will the Doctor get up to? Who is she travelling with, and what kind of baddies might she be facing? Who or what is the Timeless Child? Is Jo Martin REALLY the Doctor? Are the Cybermen the only classic foes, or will the Daleks be back in action as well?
Check out everything we know about Doctor Who season 12 below...
When is Doctor Who season 12 coming back to TV?
The sci-fi series returned at 6.55pm on Wednesday 1st January 2020, aka New Year's Day.
Following that the series went back to a weekly Sunday evening release date (as it did in 2018), and the next episode (Episode 10, called The Timeless Children) airs on Sunday 1st March at 6:50pm on BBC One.
What is the next episode of Doctor Who season 12 called? What's it about?
The next episode is named The Timeless Children, and will see the Doctor captured by the Master (Sacha Dhawan) in the ruins of Gallifrey while her friends are under attack by the resurgent Cybermen.
The episode is written by series showrunner Chris Chibnall, and is the second of a two-part story that began with the previous week's Ascension of the Cybermen.
Are the Cybermen returning to Doctor Who?
After making a grand return in series 12 episode 8, the Cybermen are (alongside the Master) the main villains in two-part finale story Ascension of the Cybermen/The Timeless Children.
"It's a story in which you're going to be encountering a particularly relentless and ferocious set of Cybermen," Chibnall said.
"It's interesting, because although you can talk about it as old versus new [monsters], that’s slightly a false definition," he added. "Because even if you bring the Cyberman back, that'll be the first time for some kids and for some viewers.
"So you have to make sure that they feel fresh and there's an idea behind them. I feel like we did a really nice job with that and with [2019's New Year's Special] Resolution and the Dalek – that was a new spin on a Dalek story."
The appearance of rusted, half-made "lone Cyberman" Ashad in episode eight teased an attempt to revitalise the failing Cyber-forces, which was realised in episode nine when a new caste of "Warrior Cybermen" (see main image) were awoken to march on the remnants of the human race.
Who is the new Doctor in Doctor Who?
In a massive twist, season 12's fifth episode revealed that unassuming tourguide Ruth Clayton was actually a disguised version of the Doctor, albeit an incarnation the current Doctor has no memory of. Played by Holby City's Jo Martin, this new Doctor made a big splash when she appeared in Fugitive of the Judoon, and it seems safe to assume she'll come back in the series finale.
But is she the original Doctor, another missing incarnation like the War Doctor or something else entirely? We delve into some of the best theories here.
Will Captain Jack Harkness return again?
In another surprise move, Fugitive of the Judoon saw the return of fan-favourite former companion Captain Jack Harkness, with John Barrowman reprising his role as the immortal Time Agent to deliver a warning to the Doctor via her friends.
Later, Jack disappears again - but will he be back for more?
“I mean if they ever ask Jack back, like I said I'll come back at the drop of a hat,” Barrowman told RadioTimes.com of his hopes for the future, noting he had hopes for a “vast adventure” with the current TARDIS line-up.
“Hopefully I'll get to work with Jodie, yeah. That would be incredible,” he continued.
However series boss Chris Chibnall has said that we we “categorically” won’t see Jack again this series, while still leaving the door open for a future return.
"But who knows when he might pop up again?” he continued. “We love Captain Jack, we love John Barrowman.
"I hope that won't be his last appearance and that at some point he gets to meet the 13th Doctor."
Is there a Doctor Who season 12 trailer?
Yes - there are actually quite a few! The most recent (above) hints at what's to come in the second half of the series including new monsters, some serious companion angst and some nasty-looking Cybermen.
Prior to this, the first trailer arrived in November 2019, and it showed an action-packed, alien-stuffed series of adventures for the Doctor and her friends.
Also debuting a new-look Cyberman and plenty of intriguing hints about what to expect from the series, it's a must-watch - so why not look up and do that now?
And when you're done with that, in early December the BBC also released a surprise second trailer, which gives a better look at a few monsters and other challenges faced by the Doctor and company.
You can also catch a glimpse of some new sets and scenes in the wrap video above.
At the end of October, the BBC tweeted out an intriguing image of the Doctor's shadow suggesting we should "watch this space," and later doubled down on on the tease with a short trailer that promised more information at the end of November.
As any Doctor Who fan knows, the 23rd November is the anniversary of the series' first ever episode back in 1963, so it's not surprising the BBC chose this day to release the first trailer.
Will there be a Doctor Who Christmas special in 2019?
It looks like there will - but not until Christmas 2020.
“You will get a special – at the end of the series, yes,” Doctor Who boss Chris Chibnall told RadioTimes.com and other journalists when asked if there was a Christmas special coming up.
In other words, there's no special in late 2019 or for New Year's Day 2020, but there probably will be one for Christmas 2020. At least this year we'll get an episode on New Year's Day though!
So, fans of Christmas specials look like they may have to wait an entire year. The best things come to those that wait and all that.
Will there be another season with Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnall after Doctor Who season 12?
“It’s categorically untrue [that I’m leaving],” Chibnall toldand other press during a visit to Doctor Who’s Cardiff set. “We’re already planning the next series after this series.”
And in a later interview, Jodie Whittaker has confirmed she'll be back as well.
"I'm doing another season," she said. " That might be a massive exclusive that I'm not supposed to say, but it's unhelpful for me to say [I don't know] because it would be a massive lie!"
More recently, it was apparently revealed that season 13 will start filming in September 2020, ahead of a release in autumn the following year.
Who’s in the cast for Doctor Who season 12?
The Master (Sacha Dhawan) in Doctor Who
Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker and her Tardis team Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill all returned this series along with showrunner Chibnall behind the scenes.
“We can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole to BBC1,” Chibnall said. “Brilliant!”
One of the major additions to the cast for series 12 is Iron Fist star Sacha Dhawan, who has previously appeared as original Doctor Who director Waris Hussein in the Mark Gatiss-penned television film An Adventure in Space and Time.
Dhawan was originally billed as playing a character called O, a former British intelligence officer who had been investigating alien life but in a twist for the ages it was revealed he would actually be playing the Doctor's greatest foe - the Master. At time of writing the Master has just returned to torment the Doctor, and is set to play a big part in the series finale...
In episode five, another surprise Time Lord appears in the form of Jo Martin's alternate version of the Doctor, who we might also expect to turn up in future episodes.
In upcoming episodes we can expect Derry Girls' Ian McElhinney, Shetland's Julie Graham and Prince of Persia's Steve Toussaint, who all appear in the secretive two-part finale.
And plenty of big-name actors have already appeared in this series of the sci-fi drama.
National treasures Stephen Fry and Sir Lenny Henry appeared in the series' opening episode playing a spymaster and a villain, while ER's Goran Višnjić and Hustle's Robert Glenister joined for another story as Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison.
Bodyguard star Anjli Mohindra (who previously starred in Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures) appeared in the same episode as Višnjić and Glenister playing the alien queen of the Skithra, while the Inbetweeners' James Buckley popped up as a mechanic called Nevi in episode three alongside Breaking Bad's Laura Fraser.
Later, we met Game of Thrones' Ian Gelder as villain Zellin as well as new characters played by Matthew McNulty and Warren Brown, while Maxim Baldry, Lili Miller, Lewis Rainer, Nadia Parkes and Jacob Collins-Levy played a group of literary figures including Mary Shelley and Lord Byron.
You can see a full list of the cast here.
Who is writing Doctor Who season 12?
Doctor Who series 12's writing team has been confirmed, and there are a few returning faces alongside some new talent.
Vinay Patel, Ed Hime and Pete McTighe are all returning to pen an episode this year, while the newcomers are Nina Metivier (who previously worked as a script editor on the series), Emmerdale's Maxine Alderton and award-winning playwright Charlene James.
"We’re thrilled that Doctor Who continues to attract some of the most exciting and dynamic talent working in television,” head writer Chris Chibnall said in a release.
“Along with our returning faces, we’re excited to welcome new members to the Doctor Who family. The Doctor Who team is crammed with British television’s brightest writers and directors: we’ve adored working with them, and can’t wait to show you the explosive stuff they’ve created!”
It's been revealed that Chibnall has penned four episodes, while the six guest writers delivered a script each, half of which are co-written with Chibnall.
Who is the Master?
In an excellent and unexpected twist towards the end of the first episode, it was revealed that the Doctor's greatest enemy, the Master had returned to plague her once again - with Sacha Dhawan playing the Time Lord.
Like the Doctor, the character has been played by a range of actors over the show's lengthy run, including Roger Delgado, John Simm and Michelle Gomez. He is also a renegade Time Lord and the antithesis of the Doctor his number one aim is to control the universe, while making the Doctor suffer as much as possible along the way. We go into more detail about the character here.
Are the Daleks back in Doctor Who?
Well, it seems likely - fans have spotted the tinpot terrors filming in Bristol on the Clifton Suspension bridge, with scenes about demonstrating the new "Recon Dalek" model introduced in New Year's Day special Resolution being blown apart by the more traditional gold Daleks. But who knows? Given how secret Doctor Who normally keeps these things, it could all be a bit of misdirection...
And in December, Chris Chibnall appeared to deny that the famous villains would be featuring in the series, telling Entertainment Weekly, “I wouldn’t expect Daleks this series, no. I’m being serious. You might want to expect Cybermen though.”
Who are the Judoon?
Rhino-like thugs the Judoon returned to the series for fifth episode Fugitive of the Judoon.
“No! Sho! Blo! The Judoon are storming back into Doctor Who in full force, and the streets of Gloucester aren’t safe,” series showrunner Chris Chibnall said.
“If anyone has anything to hide, confess now. The Judoon are taking no prisoners, and will stop at nothing to fulfil their mission! The whole team on Doctor Who are delighted and scared in equal measure to welcome them back: one of many treats we’ve got in store for viewers next series.”
First appearing in 2007 in David Tennant's second series (specifically the episode Smith and Jones), the Judoon cropped up a few more times over the years (including in child-friendly spin-off the Sarah-Jane Adventures), last popping up in Peter Capaldi's penultimate series for a couple of cameos.
In the finished episode, the Judoon were revealed to be working for a past version of the Time Lords, tracking down Jo Martin's Doctor.
Will Jodie Whittaker get a new Doctor Who costume?
The Thirteenth Doctor will has some new variations on her look in the new series, sporting a darker overcoat (and matching socks) for the first two episodes instead of the sky-blue number she's worn to date and donning a tuxedo for opening two-parter Spyfall.
In Episode eight the Doctor also adds a polka-dotted waistcoat and a scarf to help her blend into 18th-century society. Jodie Whittaker has also been spotted on set in a new jumper with rainbow-coloured cuffs that echoes the lining of her coat, but it's unclear if this is a new costume choice or something that Whittaker owns personally that just so happens to share design details.
Is Doctor Who season 12 currently filming?
No – production has already concluded on the new series of episodes, with the team filming at Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff and on location over the last 10 months.
“We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped – as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said in late 2019.
“We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences.”
The series shot in South Africa for a couple of weeks, as revealed on Doctor Who's social media accounts. Parts of Cardiff and South Wales were transformed into a Sheffield police station, the streets of Paris and a London government building so far, while Gloucester has been the setting for a Judoon invasion.
Who or what is the Timeless Child?
The ongoing mystery of the series continues, with Sacha Dhawan's Master revealing that he destroyed Gallifrey over this mysterious secret. Could the Timeless Child hold the secret to regeneration, time travel or another part of Gallifrey's founding? Is it the Doctor, the Master or someone else entirely?
We go into some of our theories here...