Doctor Who Christmas special - What time is it on? Who is in the cast? How will Peter Capaldi's Doctor die?

What festive treats does the Doctor have in store for us?

Christmas is coming and for Whovians, more exciting than any present under the tree on December 25 is the prospect of a special episode of their favourite show.

The Doctor Who Christmas special has become one of the most hotly-anticipated events on the festive TV schedule, so we’re already looking forward to 2017’s instalment.

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As we cross off the days on our calendar, let’s take stock of everything we know so far about the forthcoming episode.

When will the Christmas special air?

Twice Upon A Time will be broadcast at 5.30pm, Christmas Day on BBC One.

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Who will star in it?

The finale of series 10 gave a taster of what we can expect from the Christmas episode, and showed us at least two of the stars we can expect to see.

Peter Capaldi will return as the Time Lord, but there’s a treat in store for fans as he will also be joined by David Bradley as the original Doctor – although that role was of course first played by the late William Hartnell.

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Look out too for the debut of Jodie Whittaker as Doctor 13 before she stars in her first full series in 2018.

We also know that recurring star and writer Mark Gatiss will appear as a new character, a mysterious World War I soldier known as The Captain, and that somehow Pearl Mackie will return as companion Bill, despite being killed off during the last series.

Former companion Jenna Coleman has been asked to reprise her role as Clara, but has remained cryptic on whether she said yes. She told fans at Belgian Comic-Con: “All I’ll say is that from February to late August, I was filming on Victoria. I did film goodbye and leaving videos for Steven (Moffat, outgoing showrunner) and Peter. It was good. I was literally outside a trailer saying ‘hi!’ on a phone. Maybe some rumours have come from there. I don’t know.”

We’re still waiting on a final cast announcement, but with previous Christmas specials featuring the likes of Kylie Minogue, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant and Sir Ian McKellen, we’re expecting something amazing to have been lined up.

What will the storyline be?

The end of series 10 teaser for the Christmas episode, which will be called Twice Upon A Time, showed Capaldi’s Doctor being fatally shot by a Mondasian Cyberman and beginning to regenerate.

It certainly looks like a white Christmas on the sci-fi show as he stepped out of the Tardis into an Arctic landscape, to be confronted by an approaching figure declaring himself to be the “original” Doctor.

Fans are looking forward to seeing how the two incarnations of the Doctor will interact with each other, but the storyline does not end there.

We’re looking to Gatiss’ casting as a clue to where the episode will take us, as he has told Empire that his World War I Captain character will have a “resonant echo in the whole Doctor Who story”. We also know that The Captain is seemingly destined to die in battle, but is taken from the trenches to play his part in the storyline.

Added to that, Bill’s return and possibly Clara’s, will also need to be woven into the plot, as will Whittaker’s first appearance.

A synopsis of the episode teases: “This is the magical last chapter in the Twelfth Doctor’s epic adventure. He must face his past to decide his future. And the Doctor will realise the resilience of humanity, discovering hope in his darkest frozen moment. It’s the end of an era. But the Doctor’s journey is only just beginning.”

Is this farewell to Peter Capaldi?

Afraid so. We’ve loved Doctor Who superfan Capaldi’s time on the show, but despite his incarnation having vowed that this time he would not live on and regenerate, Bradley’s character explained that he wouldn’t have much choice.

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It’s already been revealed that Whittaker will make her Doctor debut in the special and that she will star in series 11 from autumn 2018, so this really is goodbye for Number 12.

Let’s hope it’s a fitting farewell.

The Doctor Who Christmas special will air on BBC One in December.


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