The Next Time trailer for Doctor Who this weekend gave away a huge spoiler for later on in the season–except we already knew it was coming.
This is usually where we just post the “Next Time” trailer, ask a couple of questions about next week’s episode and then wander off. But as promised the “next Time” trailer this week contained more than just glimpses of next week’s episode. It also had a 15 second segment of images from later on in the season–including the Doctor’s regeneration.
This would have been more of a shock if on Saturday afternoon there weren’t already stories everywhere announcing that Capaldi had already shot his death scene. Between that and Moffat warning us all that the BBC and BBC America were going to reveal “a huge spoiler” it was pretty much guaranteed this was in the cards.
But when? The BBC has managed to throw a spanner in the works with this shot. Because it means that the Doctor could regenerate at any point this season. It could be next week in “Smile” a world where the set design is awfully white, like the room the Doctor is in above. But chances are, the finale of Series 10–entitled “The Doctor Falls”–is where this shot is pulled from. What does that mean for the Christmas Special?
Occam’s Razor says that the simpler explanation is usually the correct one. We know that Moffat has been a lying son of a bitch on and off throughout the years on Who. (His recurring phrase for the Eleventh Doctor of “The Doctor Lies” was just projection.) Therefore the simplest answer is that the “Moffat says he is writing the Xmas special and Capaldi will star” was all bullshit. When series 10 concludes, the BBC will reveal the actor playing the next Doctor, and Chris Chibnall will be revealed as actually doing the Xmas special.
But! Capaldi has stated this regeneration is not as “straight forward” as the last two. That might mean the regeneration might take more of the shape of the very first Christmas special in 2005 after Eccleston quit. As you might remember, Tennant spent most of the episode off-screen having a nice regeneration nap, while Rose and company struggled to keep the world from imploding until he woke up.
Perhaps Moffat *is* writing the Xmas special–except for the last scene when the new Doctor wakes up! (Moffat has said repeatedly that Chibnall will write the first words spoken by the next Doctor). This would also give the show a way to have Capaldi show up–as a ghost memory to those who are struggling while the Doctor finishes his regenerating. Not as simple as our first answer, but in terms of “convoluted solutions that assumes everyone is telling the truth”, a very likely one.
Then there’s the least likely, but would have been most amazing answer. The Christmas special is some really long poetic “inside the Doctor’s head as he regenerates” experience, as like “Heaven Sent” last season. This would certainly give Capaldi the send off he deserves–another hour of him monologuing and carrying the show on the strength of his acting abilities. At the end of the hour, he lets go of whatever is keeping him from regenerating completely and *bam* new Doctor emerges. This is clearly *my* preferred scenario. But when has the BBC ever done anything I wanted?
Speaking of which! As much as Twitter and the internet has loudly called for the Next Doctor to be a woman or a person of color, rumors persist that the BBC, spooked by the decline in rating during Capaldi’s tenure and going for ultra safe, and planning to cast a younger, handsome white male in the role once again. And according to a new rumor mongering article in The Sun, it’s Kris Marshall.
Now, we should note! The Sun‘s article is a clickbait hedger with lots of “if he’s been cast” and “he is said to have started work already” etc. But! It was only a few weeks ago that UK bookies closed down betting on who the Next Doctor would be when an inordinate amount of bets came in for Marshall in a rush, much like what happened with Capaldi back in 2013.
So The Sun isn’t pulling this from whole cloth. The difference is, that Capaldi rush came in only hours before the BBC announcement, while we are clearly weeks and weeks away from any announcement this year. (My own assumption is that it will either be revealed at the end of the season, or it will be held until July or so, like with Capaldi). Also of note, the BBC has denied the story top to bottom, or that Marshall has filmed anything for the end of the 12th season, or is working on the Christmas special already. The Christmas special doesn’t film until the fall, so we can be relatively sure that part is at least false.
One thing The Sun probably does have the right of though: “They won’t risk a woman Doctor. They want a David Tennant type.” The BBC is still in a precarious place vis-a-vis their funding, and though Brexit may have blown any major budget cut threats off the newsstands for now, the loss of The Great British Bake Off, and the Poldark ratings loss last fall to Victoria week after week means the venerable channels had a very bad run in 2016. A retrenching in the face of the progressive roll back this last year–and an unwillingness to face a gamergate like backlash of young white males against their program–is only natural.
By the way, BBC, if it’s true you haven’t cast Marshall yet: the only young white man I would like to see cast is Ben Whishaw, personally. But when has the BBC ever listened to me?