Following a year of celebration and regeneration, Doctor Who and new Time-Lord Peter Capaldi are finally hitting their stride – digging into the series’ long-running history while also forging a bold new direction for adventuring in space and time. The most recent episode, “Listen” was especially well-received among fans and critics (read our full review) and we’re already hearing good things about this week’s installment “Time Heist.” Most importantly, skeptical viewers have begun warming to their new Doctor – who, despite being “more alien” than recent fan-favorite iterations (portrayed by Matt Smith and David Tennant), is proving that a darker turn for the hero provides fresh layers to explore – while begging the question: Is the Twelfth Doctor a “good man”?
We know that he’s trying to be a good man, even if he is slightly “ruder” than some of his predecessors, but with four episodes already behind us (in a season of twelve), we’re nearly one-third of the way through the Doctor’s season 8 journey – which means that the production team is already hard at work on this year’s Christmas Special. Now, today, we’re getting our first official details about what fans can expect this Holiday season – including a very special guest star.
In an official press release, BBC has revealed that frequent Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg collaborator Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) will have a starring role in the 2014 Christmas Special – along with other guests including Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street), Faye Marsay (Pride), Nathan McMullen (Misfits) and Michael Troughton (Breathless).
Frost has been keeping his involvement a secret and, finally able to reveal his casting, the actor took to Twitter as well as offered official comment via BBC:
I'm gonna be on Dr. Who!!! Tough keeping that quiet let me tell you.— Nick Frost (@nickjfrost) September 19, 2014
“I’m so thrilled to have been asked to guest in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, I’m such a fan of the show. The read-through was very difficult for me; I wanted to keep stuffing my fingers into my ears and scream ‘No spoilers!’ Every day on set I’ve had to silence my internal fan-boy squeals!”
Longtime Doctor Who fans will also recognize Troughton’s namesake – as the son of Second Doctor actor Patrick Troughton. That said, Michael Troughton is no stranger to acting himself – having appeared in The New Statesman and Backs to the Land, among others. The guest stars join an already long list of quality talent (including Kylie Minogue, David Morrissey, Timothy Dalton, Michael Gambon, and Richard E. Grant) who have been featured in previous Doctor Who Christmas episodes.
As mentioned, production on the special has already begun – and, as part of the announcement, the official BBC account tweeted a behind-scenes-look at Frost, McMullen, and Troughton’s set chairs.
The announcement was short on details, sticking to behind the scene production notes (written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst), but also promising that “The Christmas special, a cracker of a highlight in the festive season’s schedule, promises to be an action-packed, unmissable adventure.”
However, a comment from Moffat indicates that Frost’s character is likely to appear as a one-off companion – not the episode’s main evildoer:
“Frost at Christmas – it just makes sense! I worked with Nick on the Tintin movie many years ago and it’s a real pleasure to lure him back to television for a ride on the TARDIS.”
Of course, Moffat might not being entirely literal when he says that Frost will enjoy a ride aboard the TARDIS and there’s also the possibility that the actor could portray a malevolent baddie that hijacks the iconic blue police box. Still, the idea of Frost, who often portrays cheeky sidekicks, exchanging banter with Capaldi’s no-nonsense Doctor would make for an especially entertaining holiday episode.
The press release also makes it clear that Clara (portrayed by Jenna Coleman) will be included in the episode – which shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone that has been following recent rumors of her departure from the show. Unofficial reports suggest that the actress will exit the series during this year’s Christmas Special – though Coleman herself has attempted to dodge the issue by stating that Clara might leave the show before or long after the rumored departure date. Specifically, the actress has suggested the speculation is actually a good thing, since it casts doubt on her fate in upcoming episodes. Nevertheless, most fans believe the comments are a little more than a clever way of avoiding the truth – that the Doctor will likely be getting a new full-time companion in 2015.
Either way, there’s still plenty of Doctor Who to enjoy before the Christmas Special (and Clara’s potential exit), with some especially intriguing episodes set to air in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, fans can continue to debate the season’s overarching mysteries: who is Missy and where/what is Heaven?
Doctor Who season 8, episode 5 “Time Heist” will premiere September 20th on BBC and BBC America.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for any future updates on Doctor Who, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.