Doctor Who: Everything we know about Revolution of the Daleks

Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor - Doctor Who Special 2020: Revolution Of The Daleks - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBCA
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor - Doctor Who Special 2020: Revolution Of The Daleks - Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBCA /

The new Doctor Who festive special is headed our way on New Year’s Day. Here’s everything we know about “Revolution of the Daleks”.

After months with little to no information about the upcoming Doctor Who festive special – and some confusion about whether or not we’d even get one, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic – suddenly there’s tons of news and updates to share. Truly, a holiday miracle!

The upcoming installment, titled “Revolution of the Daleks,” was announced way back in March when Season 12 finale “The Timeless Children” ended on a cliffhanger that saw the Thirteenth Doctor thrown into a high-security Judoon prison.

The holiday special will pick up where that episode left off, and will ostensibly deal with how the Doctor gets out of Judoon jail, as well as what’s been going on with companions Yaz, Graham, and Ryan on Earth in her absence.

Also, since it’s right there in the title – there are clearly going to be Daleks.

Here’s everything we know about “Revolution of the Daleks” so far.

We’re officially welcoming the Doctor Who fam back on New Year’s Day

Many – possibly most – fans had already guessed this, but it’s now official. “Revolution of the Daleks” will air on New Year’s Day on both BBC One and BBC America.

For whatever reason, showrunner Chris Chibnall really likes the idea of a New Year’s special, as opposed to the traditional Christmas Day airing that Doctor Who had been doing since its return to our screens in 2005. (The first modern-day Christmas special, “The Christmas Invasion,” was also David Tennant’s debut as the Doctor.)

On some level, it’s understandable – the New Year’s date gets the show out of the way of other, more overtly holiday-themed fare, but still airs it on a day when most people are off work and have time to spend an hour in front of the telly. Even if some of us do miss the tradition of a Doctor Who Christmas release.

The full trailer introduces Harriet Walter and brings back Chris Noth

BBC America dropped a full trailer for the upcoming holiday special and it is a lot.

The clip not only features more of John Barrowman’s return as Captain Jack Harkness but also reveals that Chris Noth will be back as the bizarre Donald Trump-esque character Jack Robertson from Season 11 episode “Arachnids in the U.K.”.

Admittedly, I have questions – this character was deeply annoying and the episode in which he appeared was definitely one of the worst hours of that season. But let’s just go with it for now.

More importantly, this clip shows us our first look at the spiffy new LED-enhanced Daleks that will be making an appearance, or “defense drones” as the new Prime Minister appears to call them.

Where did they come from? Your guess is as good as ours. Are they ar threat to Earth? If the past is anything to go by….definitely.

That new Prime Minister is played by none other than the great Dame Harriet Walter, whom many fans will recognize from her recent appearances in dramas like Killing Eve, The Spanish Princess, and Belgravia. (How has such a well-known British actress never appeared on Doctor Who before now?? Finally, an error corrected!)

Some big changes are ahead for the TARDIS team

In other big news surrounding the New Year’s special – the BBC officially confirmed that some casting changes are headed our way in season 13.  Though the next season of Doctor Who has only just started filming after coronavirus-related production delays – and will be down a few episodes from its usual run count when it finally does air – we’ve learned that the crew in the TARDIS will be much smaller this time around.

Actors Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole, who play companions Graham O’Brien and Ryan Sinclair, respectively, will be leaving the show following “Revolution of the Daleks.” This news probably won’t truly surprise most fans, since rumors of impending cast changes have been circulating for the better part of a year. (And Cole was recently cast as a lead in a new AMC series called 61st Street.)

But it’s still said to see two of Thirteen’s first companions turn in their TARDIS keys.

To be fair, Chibnall’s Doctor Who has consistently struggled with the three companion format, and no matter how good his intentions were, the show has never managed to find a good balance between them. Though Graham and Ryan’s relationship was a cornerstone of season 11, it often left Yaz with little to do. And though Ryan and Yaz both had interesting side arcs in season 12, Graham was generally treated as occasional comic relief.

Perhaps a season with just Yaz and Thirteen in the TARDIS is exactly what both the show and the characters need. (Yaz still remains the least developed of all the Thirteenth Doctor era characters, and the push-pull relationship that’s grown up between them is somehow the least explored.)

Of course, there’s every possibility that the Doctor will pick up another stray in the season 13 premiere, and the TARDIS crew will expand once more in size. Part of me rather hopes not, though, if only because I’d love the chance to see an all-female story for once. (It’s certainly something the show has never tried before.)

There’s little news about how Ryan and Graham will exit the show, though Walsh describes their final episode as “quite sad and poignant”.  What I’m hearing is, pack tissues for this final trip with the fam.

Next. Doctor Who: Every episode of season 12, ranked. dark

Are you looking forward to “Revolution of the Daleks”? How do you feel about these impending cast changes? Sound off in the comments.