How the Doctor Who festive special addresses the Timeless Child twists: “She’s not going to forget about it”

Exclusive: Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker explain how the big revelations at the end of the last series will affect Revolution of the Daleks and season 13.

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, Sacha Dhawan as The Master - Doctor Who _ Season 12, Episode 10

The season finale for Doctor Who’s most recent run of episodes threw a massive grenade into the Who fandom, with The Timeless Children revealing some surprising new details about the Doctor’s life (including that she had many more lives than she realised and was the long-teased ‘Timeless Child‘ herself) and igniting furious discussion online.


Where did the Doctor really come from? How many lives has she lived? And what does any of this have to do with the Morbius Doctors? For months, fans have debated – and sometimes criticised – the shocking turns of the series 12 finale.

Now, as we head towards the debut of follow-up episode Revolution of the Daleks, those same fans may be wondering whether the Timeless Child storyline will be continued – and according to Jodie Whittaker herself, while it’s not the driving force behind the episode it’s still in play as the Doctor returns to our screens.

“I’d say, of course it’s affected her,” Whittaker exclusively told Radio Times. “There was no… the Doctor has a lot of time to think in the Christmas special, about a lot of things…at least at the beginning of the episode.

“It would be irresponsible to the complexity of who the Doctor is to not explore what it has opened up for her, and for me as the Doctor.”

“The Doctor is still dealing with it emotionally,” showrunner Chris Chibnall added. “She’s not going to forget about it – it’s important to her and it raises its head in the special… not in a narrative way, but in an emotional way.”

In other words, we’ll still see the Doctor haunted by the twists of The Timeless Children when she returns in this new adventure – even if the full fallout of the Master’s revelations won’t be realised until season 13 or beyond.

“Obviously I won’t chat about what direction the thought process is going,” Whittaker said. “But you know, the end of the season didn’t end with a big full stop. More of a dot dot dot!”

“Surely there’s nothing to talk about there! It was a very quiet season finale, right?” Chibnall joked.

“You’ll have to wait longer to see how it plays out. Obviously we pick up in Revolution and the Doctor is in prison, so you know that’s quite a big thing we have to deal with, and she’s been in prison for a long time when we meet her.

“But in terms of the events of The Timeless Children and what all that means… that’s not overly focused on in Revolution of the Daleks. It’s much more of a standalone episode, which is what you want in a festive special.”

In other words, from the sounds of it the Timeless Child debate is only just beginning. Buckle in – because the online arguments have only just begun…

Radio Times Christmas Cover 2020
Radio Times Christmas issue 2020

Read more about the Doctor Who Christmas special in the legendary Radio Times double Christmas issue, on sale now.


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