What’s Next for Doctor Who? 2024 Christmas Special, Series 15 Rumours, & Beyond

Filming wrapped on Series 15 last month.

Millie Gibson Ncuti Gatwa Varada Sethu Doctor Who BTS
Photo: James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

More! Like baby chicks gape-mouthed in the nest, Doctor Who fans demand to be fed. Series 14 was gulped down in what felt like record time, and now comes the hunger. After “Empire of Death”, the mystery of Ruby’s mother was solved and the revelation that Sutekh has been Teen Wolfing it atop the TARDIS since 1975, we want to know… what’s next?

A Christmas special, followed by eight new episodes is what, plus the continuation of the current companion and the introduction of a new one. Read all about it below.

2024 Christmas Special “Joy to the World”

On the press circuit for Steven Moffat’s series 14 episode “Boom”, the former showrunner confirmed that yes, the rumours are true, he’s the writer of the 2024 Christmas special. The episode is called “Joy to the World”, it’s set at least partly during WWII, features a scene on Mount Everest, and stars Bridgerton and Derry Girls’ Nicola Coughlan as the Doctor’s (we presume) one-off festive companion. Plebs and Inside No. 9’s Joel Fry is also in it, and the director was Bridgerton’s Alex Pillai. Expect it to air on BBC One and stream on Disney+ on December 25, 2024.

Story-wise, it looks as though the special won’t be entirely standalone, because Moffat told TV Choice in May that the only series 15 script he’s read, “for reasons that will become apparent,” is the finale, which is also directed by Alex Pillai, so we might expect some common ground between those two episodes.

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Series 15: Eight Episodes, Airing Around May 2025

After the Christmas ep, eight brand new Doctor Who episodes are confirmed to be arriving on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ in 2025. Filming started on series 15 on October 23 2023 and ended on May 25 2024, and RTD’s traditional DWM three-word tease for the series is: garden, firmament, diploma. Make of that what you will.

The new series is expected to air around May of that year, based on Russell T Davies telling Big Issue magazine in this November 2023 interview that “just this morning [he] delivered a Doctor Who script that will be on air in May 2025,” which seems to be a pretty straightforward clue.

We’d imagine that the eps will follow the same release strategy as series 14 and be simulcast in the UK and US on Friday evening/Saturday morning before the traditional UK broadcast on Saturday evenings. We really, really hope they won’t all drop at once in a box-set release, but thankfully have no reason to think that will happen.

A New Companion: Varada Sethu

Andor and Strike Back action-star Varada Sethu made her debut in series 14 as Anglican marine Mundy Flynn in “Boom”. In series 15, Sethu will be back playing a different character who’ll be the Doctor’s new companion. Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday will still be involved in series 15, and there’ll be some crossover between the two companions, we’re told. Other than that, very little is officially known about the new role, so let’s get the speculation ball rolling by saying: she’s the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan. (Well someone has to be.)

More Russell T Davies Scripts Plus Four Other Writers

RTD previously confirmed in Doctor Who Magazine that he has been joined by four other yet-to-be-named individuals in writing the series 15 scripts.

Judging by the fun of “Rogue”, it would be a crying shame if Kate Herron and Briony Redman didn’t return, either in this series or the next, to write the Fifteenth Doctor another adventure. In DWM 605, Redman sounded willing, saying: “The door is firmly left open. We loved doing it and if the stars align again we would be happy to jump back into the TARDIS.” They’re also definitely up for a return to Jonathan Groff’s bounty hunter character.

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Who else is your money on – the return of previous guest writers Neil Gaiman, Sarah Dollard, Mark Gatiss, Vinay Patel… or more new voices?

Four New-to-Who Directors (and One Series Six Returnee)

None of the series 14 directors (Mark Tonderai, Julie Anne Robinson, Ben Chessell, Dylan Holmes Williams, and Jamie Donoghue) returned to direct series 15. Four new-to-Who directors came on board: Alex Pillai, Amanda Brotchie, Ben A. Williams and Makalla McPherson, along with the director of series six Matt Smith-era episode “A Good Man Goes to War”, Peter Hoar.

Alex Pillai directed the 2024 Doctor Who Christmas Special “Joy to the World” (see above), and is known for directing Bridgerton, Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Peter Hoar is rumoured to have directed series 15 episodes one and four, and also collaborated with Russell T Davies on It’s a Sin and Nolly. Australian director Amanda Brotchie is rumoured to have directed episodes two and three of series 15, and recently directed two Sally Wainwright-written projects Renegade Nell and Gentleman Jack, as well as acclaimed Aussie comedy The Letdown and atmospheric adaptation Picnic at Hanging Rock. Makalla McPherson recently helmed episodes of Bridgerton spin-off Queen Charlotte and Channel 4 book adaptation Queenie. Ben A. Williams previously directed episodes of Sherwood, Baghdad Central, Humans and War of the Worlds.

Series 15 Cast

Charlie Condou‘s online acting CV announces that the Coronation Street actor will play a character named Gary in series 15. The line on musical actor Lewis Cournay’s CV saying that he’s to play a character named Logan Cheever has since been deleted (but was definitely there at one point). Set reports reveal that Jonah Hauer-King will play a character named Conrad.

As pointed out by @Tardis_Central, script editor Scott Handcock also teased the return of a familiar face who’d appeared in a previous anniversary episode.

And though no official announcement has yet been made, thanks to the tireless work of Doctor Who Filming Locations and accounts like it, we can expect to see the return of Anita Dobson as the mysterious Mrs Flood, Michelle Greenidge as Carla Sunday, Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, Ruth Madeley as Shirley-Anne Bingham, and Bonnie Langford as Mel Bush, for starters. There’ll be plenty more new on this front to come.

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Will Ncuti Gatwa Return for Series 16?

Nothing’s been confirmed yet, but in the May/June 2024 edition of Attitude magazine Ncuti Gatwa was interviewed midway through the filming on series 15, and talked about how he’d be filling the “break in between” Doctor Who series, which seems a pretty clear indication that he plans to return for series 16:

“I think this year my break will be to do something different creatively in between. Or another project, just, like, another character,” he teases. “That will be my mental break in between. But I dunno. We’ll see. We’ll see whether I work or take a holiday.”  

Three series would be traditional for a stint as the Doctor, so fingers crossed that Gatwa’s plans (and contract) extend at least that far ahead. Gatwa is scheduled to appear on stage in London on The Importance of Being Earnest at The National Theatre between November 2024 and January 2025, so his filming on a potential series 16 couldn’t start before early 2025.

Doctor Who series 14 is streaming now on BBC iPlayer and Disney+.