Doctor Who series 13’s cast just got (a bit) bigger - and it surprised everyone.
You see, after months of keeping their cards close to their chest, the team behind the BBC sci-fi series had promised that a “special surprise guest” would appear during their virtual Comic-Con@Home panel to join the regular cast and showrunner Chris Chibnall – and after a little preamble (and heated fan speculation), this mysterious figure has now been revealed.
And contrary to many theories (which ranged from Alex Kingston's River Song returning to Olly Alexander being announced as the next Doctor), the surprise guest was none other than Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson, who joins the series as a recurring multi-episode character called Vinder.
"He makes you root for him, and he breaks your heart… he’s got the whole range," Chibnall said of the character.
"The Doctor has been a part of my life forever, from watching and rewatching the serials on VHS as a kid and being terrified, to unexpectedly finding my eyes watering when the Tenth Doctor said 'I don’t want to go'," Anderson said.
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"I always wanted to live in the Whoniverse. Not only has a lifelong dream of mine now been fulfilled, but to be playing a character as fun, adventurous and dynamic as Vinder is the cherry on top. This is very cool."
Best known for his role in the HBO fantasy series (where he played troubled Unsullied commander Grey Worm) Anderson has also worked with Who showrunner Chris Chibnall before, playing a key role in season one of Broadchurch (also alongside Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker). Alongside acting work he also releases music under the name Raleigh Ritchie, and put out his second album in 2020.
Now, he'll join Whittaker, Mandip Gill and series newcomer John Bishop (who plays new companion Dan in the series) for the shorter than usual Doctor Who series 13, which has been slightly curtailed by the extra processes needed to film during the pandemic and is expected to debut on BBC One this autumn.
“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production,” Chibnall said last year.
“Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous Covid working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11.”
However, rumours have emerged since then that all eight episodes might not air this autumn, with one or more saved as “specials” in 2022 and the Who team neither confirming or denying the episode count during the Comic-Con panel.
“As ever bosses are staying tight lipped about what they have planned,” a BBC insider told RadioTimes.com earlier this year.
“But with filming still going on they clearly have plans for episodes to be playing out much later into 2022 so there’s lots more to come for Jodie’s Doctor.”
And now, at least we know one of the other people she’ll be bouncing off. How exactly Vinder will fit in with the TARDIS team during this unusual series remains to be seen (with few details given during the panel), but we're sure the conversation about this intriguing new character is only just beginning.
And hopefully we won't have to wait quite as long for more information this time. We’re hungry for these crumbs!
Doctor Who returns to BBC One later this year. For more picks, check out our full TV Guide.