Following up an earlier release of some interesting preview images, the BBC has been teasing fans all week about what they can expect from the Doctor Who Festive Special "Revolution of the Daleks"- including the return of a familiar face and a different take on an all-too-familiar enemy. The adventure finds the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) locked away in a space prison, leaving the recently-announced Captain Jack (John Barrowman) to team up with the Doctor's TARDIS fam of Yaz (Mandip Gill), Graham (Bradley Walsh), and Ryan (Tosin Cole) to save the Earth from the machinations of the Daleks.
But which version of the Daleks will the Doctor, Jack, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan be dealing with this time? And by the time the smoke clears, will there be a little more room in the TARDIS moving forward? Thankfully, clues to some of the answers viewers will be looking for are awaiting your very eyes with the release of the official trailer on Sunday (which you can check out below)- with the special set to hit screens on New Year's Day (so make sure to catch up on "Resolution of the Daleks" before… wink-wink):
Viewers last saw the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of season 12, where her fate was left hanging in the balance as she was locked away in a high-security alien prison with no hope of escape. In the upcoming New Year's Day special, Yaz, Ryan and Graham are far away on Earth and having to carry on with their lives without her. However, they soon discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek without the Doctor? Even with Captain Jack's help, the gang are set to face one of their biggest and most frightening challenges yet.
Joining the special are Chris Noth (Sex and the City), who will be back as the disgraced Jack Robertson. Dame Harriet Walter (Killing Eve, Succession) will also be making her Doctor Who debut for the special, alongside television star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (The Trial of Christine Keeler). "We've crammed this year's Doctor Who special with an explosion of extraordinary acting talent. Where else would you get British acting royalty, a globally renowned US screen star, an (inter)national treasure of stage and screen and one of Britain's hottest young actors — just in the guest cast," said series showrunner Chris Chibnall. "Put those together with Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole (and Daleks! Did I mention Daleks!) — and you get a cast to be exterminated for. And things will explode. Promise."
But that's not all, because as the excitement grows for the special, production is already underway on the 8-episode Series 13 (one that could air late 2021 or early 2022)- with Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens revealing to RadioTimes.com the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the work.
The first thing viewers should know is that aside from there being three fewer episodes, the new series won't be able to have that global feel that the previous season had. "Basically, for the past six months we've been going, 'How do we make Doctor Who in the middle of a pandemic?'. We had to re-interrogate absolutely everything. We couldn't do [New Year's Day episode] 'Spyfall' this year. We won't be able to do overseas filming. Editorially, production-wise, logistically, health-and-safety-wise, it's had a massive impact."
Still, Chibnall's creative team is "incredibly excited" to be back at work, adding "as much as possible at the moment everybody's smiling, and we've got some really lovely, great, mad, scary ideas." While some of those ideas will be teased and touched upon in the special, most will play out during a 13th series that Strevens doesn't want viewers thinking of as "that COVID season." The executive producer explained, "The biggest thing is that when series 13 finally does air, whenever that is, we never want people to watch it under a caveat of COVID, going, 'Ah, well, but they made this during the pandemic,'."
Strevens continued, "We want to make sure that when you watch it, it's – no pun intended – timeless, and feels as exciting and as high-end as we've tried to make the series since we took over. That was the driving impulse behind looking at the narratives and reducing the number of episodes slightly: we want to make sure we can give people the biggest production values possible." Following that line of thought, Chibnall said he and the team understand that the world needs the Doctor back in it as soon as possible- safely, of course. "Obviously, every day is unknown. Who knows what the world's going to be like in three weeks or three months? But I think we're all going to want a big dose of Doctor Who escapism, and that's what we're aiming for – to bring a smile to people's faces. And also a bit of dread in their hearts for monsters," Chibnall explained.
"In this strangest of years, the 'Doctor Who' production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production. We're thrilled to be back making the show. 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," Chibnall explained regarding production on Series 13 when news that it was underway was first announced. "But rest assured, the ambition, humor, fun, and scares you expect from 'Doctor Who' will all still be firmly in place. For everyone around the world, this is a challenging period – but the Doctor never shirks from a challenge!"
Speaking on behalf of BBC Studios, Strevens was excited to share the news that production on Series 13 had kicked off. "We are so thrilled to have unlocked the TARDIS, dusted down the sonic, and be able to start filming again for the next season of 'Doctor Who," said Strevens. "The amazing production team, crew, and cast have worked wonders to get us shooting again in these challenging times. It's going to be as fun-filled and action-packed as ever – with plenty of surprises.'