Warning: contains potential spoilers aplenty.
We are less than a week away from the world’s greatest television show returning to our screens and, like the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, rumours are flying higher than a Dalek on doomsday.
But what do we actually know about the upcoming series – what is fact and what is just a made-up internet rumour? As with previous years, not all the episodes have confirmed titles (despite what other sites may say), so let’s have a look at what’s coming up, starting on the 30th of March.
Episode 1 – The Bells of St John
We know the opener features Star Wars: The Phantom Menace actress Celia Imrie and that it is set in contemporary London. Last week the BBC released a promo pic which gave us a taste of new nemesis, the Spoonheads. Apparently, these guys are gonna “battle the Doctor as he discovers something sinister is lurking in the Wi-Fi.” Some smirks have guffaws have been made at these new guys, with more than one reference to Button Moon being made on the internet.
We’ll also meet Clara again, which will no doubt add yet another layer to the mystery of who she is.
UPDATE: Read our spoiler-free episode review here, and take a look at the official BBC synopsis: The Doctor’s search for Clara Oswald brings him to modern day London, where wifi is everywhere. Humanity lives in a wifi soup. But something dangerous is lurking in the signals, picking off minds and imprisoning them. As Clara becomes the target of this insidious menace, the Doctor races to save her and the world from an ancient enemy.
Episode 2 – The Rings of Akhaten
Not much is known about this story from newcomer to Who and Luther creator, Neil Cross, but we have seen some curious images and moments from it. The first trailer, aired after last year’s Christmas Special, revealed a hideous being, not dissimilar to a Syrcorax, in a glass container. The most recent pictures from the BBC have revealed that this chap is known as “The Mummy” and does resemble what could lie beneath the traditional bandaged Mummy we all know.
Steven Moffat has repeatedly used the word “amazing” to describe the tale and states that it includes the “best alien planet we’ve ever done”. Rumour-wise, some sources suggest the title is “The Rings of Akhaten” and that the Egyptian flavour may well see a return for that nasty Osirian, Sutekh – last seen in the Tom Baker classic, The Pyramids of Mars.
UPDATE: We now know this one’s called The Rings of Akhaten. Official BBC synopsis here: Clara wants to see something awesome, so the Doctor whisks her off to the inhabited rings of the planet Akhaten, where the Festival of Offerings is in full swing. Clara meets the young Queen of Years as the pilgrims and natives ready for the ceremony. But something is stirring in the pyramid, and a sacrifice will be demanded.
Episode 3 – The Cold War
Now this little beauty from Mark Gatiss has quite the cast. And quite the returning classic monster. On the cast front, Game of Thrones‘ Liam Cunningham takes centre stage, as a submarine captain, as does the legend that is David Warner (Tron, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). Curiously, we don’t know anything about his particular character, though some suggest Warner could very well be playing an “Ice Lord”.
But an Ice Lord of what? Well, we know for sure that “classic” Who monsters The Ice Warriors are back, and voiced by Nick Briggs (the man behind the Daleks and Cybermen). The Mars bad boys are at the “heart” of this “base under siege” story, fulfiling a of a “long-term dream” of writer Gatiss. Back to rumours though, and it would appear that the Russian submarine/Ice Warrior story may well be called, The Cold War.
UPDATE: The rumoured title, The Cold War, has been confirmed. Official BBC synopsis here: The Doctor and Clara land on a damaged Russian Submarine in 1983 as it spirals out of control into the ocean depths. An alien creature is loose on board, having escaped from a block of Arctic ice. With tempers flaring and a cargo of nuclear weapons on board, it’s not just the crew but the whole of humanity at stake!
Episode 4 – Hide
And the brilliant guest cast lists just continue! Step up Hollywood star Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, My Week With Marilyn) and small screen actress Jessica Raine (Call The Midwife), who will be seen playing Verity Lambert later this year in the Mark Gatiss “genesis of Doctor Who” drama, An Adventure In Space & Time.
The former is playing a professor in this second instalment from Neil Cross (though actually finished before his other script in this run of episodes), which has been described by the production team as a “cracking ghost story”. Cross himself says, “The challenge was to do something that has never been done before in 50 years of the show,” adding that it’s the kind of “episode that would have terrified me when I was 9 years old.”
UPDATE: Hide is the official title for this one now. BBC synopsis here: Clara and the Doctor arrive at Caliburn House, a haunted mansion sat alone on a desolate moor. Within its walls, a ghost hunting Professor and a gifted psychic are searching for the Witch of the Well. Her apparition appears throughout the history of the building, but is she really a ghost? And what is chasing her?
Episode 5 – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
Remember The Invasion of Time? And that amazing romp through the TARDIS? OK, it wasn’t that amazing but looks like this time we might just get something slightly better than a shonky looking swimming pool and a Sontaran runaround.
The Curse of the Black Spot writer, Stephen Thompson, returns for his second Who outing which promises us more of the TARDIS than we’ve ever seen and some “multi-dimensional geometry”. Other than the fact it stars the talented and, if the preview was anything to go by, goggle-wearing Ashley Walters (Inside Men), this one is a mystery (due to the fact that so much filming was behind closed doors).
Episode 6 – The Crimson Horror
Mark Gatiss is back, again! And look’s who’s also returning – Team Vastra! Another returning feature is the fact that there’s a factory with the name, Brightwell & Hyman. Sound familiar? No? Anyone?
Well, eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed that the matchbox that Rory used in The Angels Take Manhattan had Brightwell & Hyman emblazoned on it…
But the main feature of this tale is surely the fact that Dame Diana Rigg (The Avengers‘ Emma Peel) has graced Doctor Who with her presence. Not only that, she’s brought her daughter, Rachael Stirling (Tipping The Velvet), along for the ride too! It’s a period drama that promises scares, though Stirling did describe it as “joyously camp.”
Episode 7 – Nightmare In Silver (previously: The Last Cyberman)
We say it’s called The Last Cyberman but Neil Gaiman might have had a last minute change of mind, if his tweets are anything to by. Anyway, as the title, or not. suggests, the Cybermen are back and as the trailer demonstrated, these guys are a little different to the previous “Cybus” versions seen since 2006.
The cast are an impressive bunch, featuring Tamzin Outhwaite (Eastenders), Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi) and the brilliant Jason Watkins (Being Human, Pyschoville). It’s set on another planet with Gaiman returning scares to the Cybermen – seems like a challenge that The Doctor’s Wife author is more than capable of.
Unsurprisingly, very little is actually known about the finale. Fact-wise, Moffat has said it contains “serious fanboy-pleasing” and in the recent press release the show runner said The Doctor’s greatest secret would be revealed. But we also know that Team Vastra are back, again, and could this be the episode that Richard E Grant returns too as Dr Simeon?
Also returning, undoubtedly, for the Steven Moffat penned story is Alex Kingston who hinted some time ago she had filmed for this series (with Caro Skinner and Matt Smith also confirming she would return in 2013). Some extras on the shoot have stated that some scenes are set in Victorian Scotland (an era Steven Moffat seems fascinated with).
More so than any other batch of episodes, this lot are pretty mysterious – and we like it that way. Doctor Who is as memorable for its scares as it is its shocks and twists. Keep ’em coming Cardiff!
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.