‘Doctor Who’ Christmas Special Details Revealed: Friends, Regenerations & More

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 28th, 2013 at 6:49 am,

doctor who 2013 christmas special 570x294 Doctor Who Christmas Special Details Revealed: Friends, Regenerations & More

Fresh off the record-breaking Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor,” Steven Moffat and Co. are trying to find ways to keep the fans occupied until the highly anticipated Christmas special, during which current Doctor Matt Smith will take a bow and turn over the TARDIS to new Doctor Peter Capaldi.

On Sunday, it was revealed on BBC America’s official Facebook page that the episode is called “The Time of the Doctor” (sensing a theme?) and Digital Spy reported Monday that actress Orla Brady (Mistresses and Fringe) will guest star as an old friend of the Doctor’s. No other details about Brady’s role, other than that the plot will revolve largely around her, have been released.

The biggest bomb dropped, though, was Moffat’s weekend announcement during an interview with Radio Times that Matt Smith’s Doctor is in fact the 13th, rather than the 11th. Moffat has officially declared John Hurt’s Doctor as an official incarnation and said that David Tennant’s Doctor used up two regenerations, bringing the tally to 13 lives and leaving fans wondering what this means for the series.

Doctor Who Day of the Doctor Forbidden Regeneration Doctor Who Christmas Special Details Revealed: Friends, Regenerations & More

It’s been considered canon since the 1976 episode “The Deadly Assassin” that Time Lords can only regenerate 12 times and live through 13 incarnations, which means Smith should technically be the last Doctor. So where does that leave Capaldi?

Fans had already been theorizing about additional regenerations once John Hurt’s mysterious forgotten Doctor appeared in the season 7 finale, “The Name of the Doctor”, wondering if River Song’s regeneration transfer had something to do with it, or perhaps if when the universe rebooted in “The Big Bang”, so did the Doctor’s regeneration count – or perhaps even the High Council added some regenerations on along the way, as they can do. Obviously Capaldi will still be succeeding Smith as the Doctor — now it’s just a matter of seeing how the regeneration cap-breach is explained in the Christmas special.

Moffat had this to say on the matter:

The 12 regenerations limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology. Science fiction is all about rules, you can’t just casually break them.

doctor who 2013 christmas special capaldi 570x294 Doctor Who Christmas Special Details Revealed: Friends, Regenerations & More

If science fiction is all about rules, it would appear that Moffat has no plans to break this one. Then again, he also insisted Peter Capaldi wouldn’t be in the 50th Anniversary special — apparently he’s applying the number one rule of the Doctor to himself. Some viewers are already annoyed with him for breaking the First Law of Time and allowing three Doctors to hang out with each other without consequence.

Do you have any theories about who exactly Orla Brady might play, or how Moffat might write his way out of the 12-regeneration rule? Let us know in the comments.


Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Time of the Doctor,” premieres December 25 on BBC and BBC America.

Sources: Facebook, RadioTimes, Digital Spy

TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. I can’t wait for the Christmas episode only a month to go now I’m starting to warm to matt smith but now he has to go!

    • Likewise

  2. Well, I’m interested in seeing how the episode plays out but I can imagine fans should be raging right about now, angry at Moffat for seemingly doing as he pleases and expecting people to buy into it.

    How will he dig himself out of this hole?

    • You’re being sarcastic…right..?
      The episode is a month away…the anger and raging should start now..?

      • Oh the raging never really stop when you have the Moff at the helm.

  3. No consequence? The War Doctor regenerated literally as soon as he finished. Plus they both said the time stream made them forget what they did, so I’d say that’s a consequence.

  4. The Series 7 finale is NOT called “The End of Time” but “The Name of the Doctor”…”The End of Time” was a 2009-10 two-part special…Please change!

  5. Could’ve sworn that was a live action picture of ‘Bioshock: Infinite’ at the top there. Matt Smith doing a good Booker DeWitt if you ask me…

  6. I wonder what Capaldi’s catch phrase will be?

    • preposterous!

    • More like “F*ck of you Dalek c*nts!” (The thick of it style)

      • I’d love THATT

  7. knowing how moffat writes his episodes, the way the doctor is going to manage to regenerate is through the power of friendship or something like that

    • You’re confusing Moffat with Davies, Moffat solves things with timey wimney time travel Davies is all hugs/wishes/deus ex

      • Lol, Moffat is the King of the deus ex machina’s, as will be proven when the Doctor is given a ‘second chance’ from a crack in the sky, conveniently just before the surrounding Daleks kill him. Said regeneration also just happens to be explosive enough to destroy the remaining Daleks.

  8. Old friend on the Doctor’s………Romana??

    • Or Susan, or maybe even Ace as the plan (if it hadn’t been cancelled in 89) was for the 7th Doctor to take her there to train at the “timelord academy” and there’s nothing to say that couldn’t have happen sometime between then and the tv movie when he turns into 8

  9. Multiple versions of the Doctor being together in location isn’t new. It happened first in the Three Doctors, 10th Anniversary story. Then again in the Five Doctors, 20th anniversary and then again, for no good reason, in the Two Doctors. Each time it was the Time Lords doing. This time it was ancient Time Lord tech causing it.

    I still want to see the Valeyard since Hurt turned out not to be him.

  10. aaahhh! I’m so excited!!! And I’m going to cry so much.

  11. I hate moffat so much, I’ve always suspected he disliked Russel T. Davies’ stories and I think this is proof given how he’s finally been able to completely rewrite the doctor’s canon story. The doctor stated in Journey’s end he didn’t need to regenerate once his body was healed, didn’t want to…thus he avoided the regeneration cycle and was still the 10th doctor NOT the 11th…but of course Moffat had to override that…I loved the special and hated it, loved it cause it was well done, hated it cause it changes everything that was.

    • He did no such thing! He overrided nothing – Tennant is still ten! How hard is this to accept?

      When Capaldi shouted ‘All Thirteen’, he meant that there were physically thirteen doctors there, but in terms of the numbering system, Hurt does not count and Capaldi is the TWELFTH Doctor!

    • That shows a complete lack of understanding of regeneration. He used the full energy of a regeneration, just because he siphoned off the remaining energy after healing doesn’t mean the regeneration didn’t count.

  12. Not that I’m condoning his actions but the groundwork for the doctor getting around the 12 regeneration rule is there already, it’s been hinted the doctor isn’t a regular time lord and he never was. He was in fact originally The Other, one of the three founders of time lord society and the most powerful. Hinted at during the 4th’s time and HEAVILY implied during the 7th’s.

    • I am not terribly familiar with Pre-9th Doctor Who, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that The Master had more than 12 regenerations. So the regeneration cap isn’t exactly an immutable rule anyway.

      • The Master stole his regeneration cycles. In the new series, he gain more when he participate in the Time War and later lost his evil beard and became a boisterous psychopath.

    • You’re referring to the Cartmel Masterplan, but this has never been incorporated into the canon of the show, and has never been mentioned either by RTD or Moffat and was only used in the Virgin line of novels. As per the 2005 series the Doctor is just a Time Lord, not the Other.

  13. Ehh, Matt will always and forever will be the 11th for me. Also, River transfer all her regeneration cycle to bring him back to life. The Doctor didn’t gain any extra regen cycles from her.

    Also, I find it funny that when RTD changes things it’s fair game and if Moffat does it, it’s f**king up canon.

    • Couldn’t agree more.

  14. since the timelord resurrected the master and gave him a new set of regenerations, who’s to say that they didn’t give all timelords fighting in the time war new regeneration cycles to make them more durable soldiers (able to fight/survive longer). simple way around the problem.

  15. I hope she’s Romana or Susan. Since the Time Lords are still out there, hopefully, so are they.

    • Susan should be dead, since Ecclestone’s Doctor said he was the last, and he should know if his own granddaughter survived. Romana, being lost in E-space, could conceivably survive.

  16. The series 7 finale was The Name of The Doctor, not the End of Time. The End of Time was a 2-parter in which Tennant regenerated (2009-10).

    • *super, not supper!

  17. 50 years of doctor who canon is a lot to keep up with but in trial of a time lord the valyard was stated by the master it is the doctor some where between his 12th and final regeneration but the master did not state how many regenerations the doctor had left we’re just assuming a number because of the 12 regeneration limit by what the master said it is safe to assume it could be between the 12th and the 50th regeneration or the 12th and 15th regeneration all that was said is the 12th and final regeneration no definite number towards the later regenerations

    • This is the simple way to handle this. Just leave everyone guessing.

  18. It’s Stephen Moffat obviously something stupid is going to happen or The Doctor is going to get amnesia since that ALWAYS solves every problem in Doctor Who “Well I forgot so that’s why I’m not dead!”

  19. Who on earth reported this story/article?? I was at the London Excel at the weekend so I know what he said.

    Firstly, Moffat has said no such thing. What he did say is that Hurt’s character is NOT counted, leaving the numbering system intact. Hurt is THE WAR DOCTOR which was the whole point of ‘Night of the Doctor!’ McGann is 8, Eccleston is 9, Tennant is 10 etc.

    Smith is the 11th Doctor, who is physically now in his twelfth body since McGann physically used a regen up to transform into the War Doc. So he has one more regeneration left, which will be used up at Xmas for Capaldi to come in.
    Capaldi will then be the Twelfth Doctor who is physically in his thirteenth body, so then Moffat will have to come up with some Regeneration plot twist only when its time for Capaldi to regenerate which is a long way off yet I would imagine.

    And secondly, you mean the season 7 finale, ‘The Name of the Doctor’, not ‘End of Time’.

    • This does make more sense…

    • Yeah, that’s stupid reasoning. If the Doctor changed his name to the Professor, then he’d instantly get 12 more regenerations.

  20. I know breaking rules sometimes makes it hard to bite on to but me personally I don’t mind because im not ready to say good bye to doctor who

  21. Why does no one mention the prophecy and what it could mean for the Doctor? I mean he’s finally going to tell us Doctor “____”. This is a certain as the Silence said and they are confirmed in the episode…

    The Doctor has done certain to make sure to have never said his name… there’s a reason and we’ll discover it.

    Also once he says it, Time will Stop.

    Of course this is all assuming the Silence don’t kill him before he can answer…..

  22. Rule #1 moffat lies… He’s deliberately said that he purposely tells us the wrong things

  23. Simon Jackson, by your logic it would have been a regeneration when 10 regret his hand after losing it in a sword fight with the Sycorax…which means we’re beyond 13 already. Can’t have it both ways. :)

  24. *regrew, not regret. Damn autocorrect.

  25. Now that Gallifrey exists, everything can change. And the Doctor may now have more lives than before do to its very existence.