What's to come in Doctor Who season 12? Season 11 has only just come to an end, but it wouldn't be Doctor Who without looking to the future. And, fitting of the show's time travel, that future is rather unclear.
Doctor Who season 11 brought about huge changes; a new showrunner in the form of Chris Chibnall, a new Doctor in the form of Jodie Whittaker, and with her came not one but three new companions, or friends as they're now known; Yaz (Mandip Gill), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh). There was a change to the structure of the program, too. Gone are the arching storylines which spanned two or more episodes, replaced with standalone episodes, meaning that viewers could dip in and out more easily. Also gone are the regular Doctor Who monsters and villains; season 11 hasn't featured Daleks, Cybermen, or any mention of The Master or Missy.
Will Doctor Who season 12 keep the same structure and cast, or can we expect some changes? Here's what we know about the show's future, including specials, release dates and more.
Doctor Who Returns For A New Year's Day Special
Traditionally, Doctor Who has had an annual Christmas special, shown on Christmas Day since 2005. That's all changed this year and, for the first time ever, Doctor Who will be shown on New Year's Day, instead. The episode won't necessarily be festive-themed, but it is titled "Resolution," which would hint at some characters making changes. The official synopsis is as follows:
"As the New Year begins, a terrifying evil is stirring, from across the centuries of Earth's history. As the Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz return home, will they be able to overcome the threat to planet Earth?"
The trailer for "Resolution," which is written by Chibnall and directed by Wayne Yip, hints at an episode packed full of drama, and possibly the return of the Doctor's nemesis; the Doctor looks tense as she reveals she's discovered the DNA of the most dangerous creature on the earth, with many fans speculating Whittaker's Doctor will face off against a Dalek for the very first time. The episode will air on BBC1 in the U.K., and BBC America in the U.S., and will be available to watch online (for BBC America subscribers) shortly afterward.
Doctor Who Season 12 Hasn't Started Filming Yet
The New Year's special is, of course, wrapped and ready, but filming hasn't yet begun on Doctor Who season 12. Given that we won't see season 12 for some time (more on that in a moment), it makes sense that they're not filming yet. However, it has been confirmed that Whittaker will return as the Doctor, along with Gill, Cole and Walsh in their friend roles. In the meantime, Walsh has filming commitments with his gameshow, The Chase. Doctor Who season 12 will begin filming in 2019.
Doctor Who Season 12 Will Release In 2020
Despite starting the year with a brand new episode, there won't be a new season of Doctor Who in 2019. This has happened before. The gap between seasons 10 and 11 was one of the longest ever, but that was attributable to the massive changes taking place behind the scenes; bringing in an entirely new creative team and cast can't have been an easy task. The BBC hasn't given a specific reason for the delay, but it's safe to say that the fans aren't too happy with the decision. While season 11 has garnered steady ratings and much critical praise, there's the potential of losing momentum completely with such a long gap between seasons. On the other hand, it does give Chibnall time to secure strong writers to deliver great storylines.
As for when in 2020, that hasn't been confirmed, although it'll likely be earlier than season 11's October 2018 premiere.
What's The Story of Doctor Who Season 12?
Given that it's still a way out, there's been no confirmed storylines for Doctor Who season 12 yet. The official word from the BBC is just that the Doctor and her friends will be returning to thrill audiences in two year's time, but there's no mention of what monsters or villains she could possibly face.
Season 11 was more sociopolitical than we've seen Doctor Who in many years. While some argued that the villains were too weak, others pointed out that the overriding arc was that we should look at the monster as being on the inside; the racism shown in "Rosa" being a prime example of this. So can we expect more of this in season 12? Well, possibly. Chris Noth, who played the Trump-inspired Jack Robertson, has said he may come back, as has Alan Cumming, who gave a fabulous turn as King James I. We might also see more of Yaz's family, and even the return of Grace (Sharon D Clarke) in flashback.
There's no writers or directors confirmed for Doctor Who season 12, but after taking on a whole new writing team for season 11, Chibnall may well ask some of them to return, and he might even reach out to former Doctor Who writers, such as Mark Gatiss, to pen an episode. Peter Jackson remains keen to direct Doctor Who, something that he's made no secret of, and Neil Gaiman is also said to be keen to write for Whittaker's Doctor. What no one knows, is whether season 12 will consist of the same 10 episode count, or whether it'll be more or - dare we say it - less.
Rumors Suggest Doctor Who Season 12 May Be Jodie Whittaker's Last
While there might be a long wait for Doctor Who season 12, fans may want to savor it when it does arrive, because it's rumored that it may be Whittaker's last. While the rumor is just that - a rumor - it's been said that Chris Chibnall plans to depart the TARDIS after season 12 due to tensions with the BBC. He allegedly pushed back against giving an annual season of the show - hence the delay to season 12 - and has since decided not to stay on past 2020. Whittaker, who worked with Chibnall on Broadchurch, is said to be unwilling to carry on without him at the helm, and plans to quit as well.
Even if there is any truth to these rumors, it's important to remember that we're still over a year away from season 12 coming to air, and plenty could change in that time. We'll find out for sure, when 2020, and Doctor Who season 12, arrives.