When is the Doctor Who Christmas special on TV? Release date, cast, plot and latest news

Everything we know so far about Revolution of the Daleks.

Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker is back as the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions gear up for a special Doctor Who episode over the festive period, and more details are starting to emerge about Revolution of the Daleks – including a first look at the trailer!

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Generally speaking, one of the most exciting new revelations has been the reveal of a new-look Dalek design ready to burst onto our screens to cap off 2020.

Purists, fear not. The slick black Daleks won’t be replacing the classic bronze models for good, but they iconic villains will be the main focus of the festive special.

Series boss Chris Chiball told Radio Times magazine: “There’s always a pressure when you refresh any Doctor Who monster,”

“But equally that’s part of the job and that’s part of what keeps it new and interesting.”

The special Dalek-themed issue is on sale from Saturday 28th November.

News of the Daleks’ makeover is hot on the heels of the revelation that Captain Jack Harkness returns to Doctor Who as John Barrowman reprises the role after being revealed in a teaser trailer on BBC One.

The special will see the Time Lord come up against the series’ classic antagonists, the Daleks, for the first time in Whittaker’s tenure, and star Nicholas Briggs has already promised fans the episode is set to be “a gift”.

Doctor Who released the official poster for Revolution of the Daleks.

Doctor Who poster

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic having complicated the production of the upcoming thirteenth series of Doctor Who, the special was filmed last year and was completed before the virus began to wreak havoc in the industry.

Read on for everything you need to know about the Doctor Who 2020 Christmas special.

When does the Doctor Who Christmas special air on TV?

It’s been confirmed that the Doctor Who festive special will air at 6:45pm on the 1st January 2021, AKA New Year’s Day.

In other words, get ready for a very Happy Who Year!

Is there a trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas special?

Yes! Showing off the new-look Daleks (which are apparently hanging out at Downing Street, which feels very 2020) and the return of Chris Noth’s baddie Jack Robertson, the footage promises as action-packed adventure as Jack and the fam try to protect Earth in the Doctor’s absence.

Check out the 60-second preview above.

Doctor Who Christmas special plot

Doctor Who
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 – Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 – Revolution Of The Daleks Picture Shows: Dalek – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Ben Blackall

The official synopsis for the special reads, “The upcoming festive special will see the return of one of the Doctor’s biggest and most feared enemies – the Daleks.

“The Doctor is locked away in a high-security alien prison. Isolated, alone, with no hope of escape.

“Far away, on Earth, her best friends, Yaz, Ryan and Graham have to pick up their lives without her. But it’s not easy. Old habits die hard. Especially when they discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek, without the Doctor?”

Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 – Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 – Revolution Of The Daleks Picture Shows: Graham O’Brien (BRADLEY WALSH), Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Ryan Sinclair (TOSIN COLE) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon
BBC

Chibnall and fellow Who boss Matt Strevens gave Radio Times some extra bits of detail to flesh out the plot, stating the new episode is a secret sequel to a previous Dalek-themed Doctor Who episode.

“This story is essentially both a standalone episode and also a sequel to Resolution,” Chibnall told us, revealing that the events of the 2019 New Year’s special are key to this year’s follow-up.

“I kept to using just one Dalek in Resolution because they’re powerful things singly anyway, so that’s fun just to be able to give one that space. But also I was planning to bring them back in greater numbers for this episode.”

Strevens added: “We knew that when we said goodbye to the Reconnaissance Dalek, when it was jettisoned out of the TARDIS doors into a supernova at the end of Resolution, that that would not be the end of it.”

We can piece together a few more things from some of the other information that has been released so far, including what the cast themselves have had to say about the episode.

For example, Jodie Whittaker has said, “Without giving any spoilers, where we leave the Doctor in the final episode of season 12… this explores in a way [what happens] when the Doctor is away from the gang, and from the Doctor’s point of view has no idea about what’s going on on Earth.”

Regarding the companions story Mandip Gill has teased, “We’re back in Sheffield, trying to get on with our own lives. Yaz is struggling a little bit.

“We do then come across a plot to do with a Dalek, and we go, ‘OK, she’s taught us lots of things… but how are we going to fight a Dalek without the Doctor?’”

And Bradley Walsh added, “How do we, as a three save mankind? Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!”

Well, we can’t wait to find out.

Doctor Who Christmas special cast

Yaz Graham Ryan
Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks (BBC)

It’s no surprise that the Doctor Who cast will be led by Jodie Whittaker, who continues her stint as the Thirteenth Doctor, while she will also be joined by her regular companions for the special: Bradley Walsh as Graham, Mandip Gill as Yaz and Tosin Cole as Ryan.

If speculation is true, the episode will mark the final episode for Walsh and Cole – with heavy rumours suggesting that the pair are set to depart the sci-fi series, although this has not been confirmed.

Long-running cast member Nicholas Briggs, who has provided the voices for many characters in the modern series, will once again voice the Daleks, while former Coronation Street star Gray O’Brien has also been listed as part of the cast.

Chris Noth in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 – Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 – Revolution Of The Daleks – Picture Shows: Robertson (CHRIS NOTH), Leo Rugazzi (NATHAN STEWART-JARRETT) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: James Pardon
BBC

And Doctor Who has recently announced the return of series 11 baddie Jack Robertson in the episode played by US actor Chris Noth, along with Harriet Walter and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as two unknown figures (though Walter may be playing the UK Prime Minister).

Harriet Walter in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks
WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 05/12/2020 – Programme Name: Doctor Who Special 2020 – Revolution Of The Daleks – Picture Shows: Leo Rugazzi (NATHAN STEWART-JARRETT), Jo Patterson (DAME HARRIET WALTER), Robertson (CHRIS NOTH) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Ben Blackall
BBC

Then there’s the small matter of the now-confirmed return for Doctor Who star John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harness (see below)….

How does Captain Jack return?

Details are sketchy about exactly how Captain Jack (John Barrowman) comes to be in the TARDIS and in league with The Doctor as they face off the Daleks once again, but it doesn’t matter when we have the entire episode to anticipate.

John Barrowman
BBC

Doctor Who teased Captain Jack’s return with a brief trailer on BBC One.

Barrowman said: “Putting on Jack’s coat and setting foot back on the set of Doctor Who was just like going back home. It’s always thrilling to play Captain Jack.

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“He’s a character very close to my heart who changed my life, and to know the fans love him as much as I do makes his return even sweeter. I hope everyone enjoys Jack’s heroic adventure with Thirteen.”

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks airs on BBC One at 6:45pm on New Year’s Day– check out what else is on with our TV Guide