Doctor Who New Year’s Special Release Date, Trailers & News
Doctor Who has wrapped up its twelfth series (since the modern reboot, that is) with a massive two-part finale that up-ended a lot of what we thought we knew about the Doctor and the Time Lords.
But the show isn’t done yet. The finale also confirmed that the Doctor will be back in Revolution of the Daleks – the upcoming New Year’s special – and that’s before we start speculating about season 13, which is bringing some major cast changes.
When is the Doctor Who New Year’s special?
Season 12 wrapped up on 1 March in the UK, and ended with a teaser for ‘Revolution of the Daleks’. That will be the next festive special, now confirmed to air on New Year’s Day in both the UK and US – so there won’t be any Doctor Who for Christmas.
We don’t yet know what time the special will air on New Year’s Day, but expect it some time in late afternoon or early evening.
In the meantime you can always catch up on older episodes. The BBC’s added every single episode of the show since 2005 – including all the specials – to the iPlayer streaming service. That means you get every episode from every Doctor from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, without paying a penny. If you want to go even older, the classic show is now all on BritBox in its entirety – though it’s worth noting that you will have to pay to subscribe.
What about season 13?
We don’t yet know when the next proper season of the show will kick off, but we know it’s not going to follow immediately on from Revolution of the Daleks.
Production only began on the season in November 2020, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see the show until late 2021, and even then it will be with a reduced order of just eight episodes – blame Covid.
“In this strangest of years, the Doctor Who production team have worked wonders to get the show back into production. We’re thrilled to be back making the show,” showrunner Chris Chibnall said. “Given the complexity of making Doctor Who, and with new and rigorous COVID working protocols, it’s going to take us a little longer to film each episode, meaning we expect to end up with eight episodes, rather than the usual 11.”
Is there a trailer?
Yup! First up we got this tiny teaser video for the episode, which reveals fan favourite character Captain Jack Harkness (played by John Barrowman) is back for the episode:
But then we got a proper trailer to reveal the New Year’s Day release date and show off the titular Daleks in action:
You can also check the official poster for the series below:
— Doctor Who (@bbcdoctorwho)
November 23, 2020
How can you watch Doctor Who in the US?
Obviously Doctor Who is a British show, but in recent years BBC America has been better about airing the show as close as it can to the British air date, to minimise piracy. That was the same for season 12 – BBC America aired each episode in a regular Sunday evening slot at 8/7c – and will also track for the New Year’s special, which is airing the same day in the US.
Alternatively, you can stream every episode of the modern show so far on Amazon Prime Video – though that will change soon. Warner Bros. has acquired exclusive US streaming rights to the series for HBO Max, so going forward that’s where you’ll need to go to watch any and all Doctor Who from 2005 onwards. That will include season 12 and other new episodes, but only after they’re broadcast on BBC America first.
Check out our full guide to watching Doctor Who from outside the UK for more options.
What to expect from Revolution of the Daleks
We’re starting to learn a bit more about what to expect from the Christmas special. Here’s the Beeb’s official description of the special:
“The upcoming festive special will see the return of one of the Doctor’s biggest and most feared enemies – the Daleks. The Doctor is locked away in a high-security alien prison. Isolated, alone, with no hope of escape. Far away, on Earth, her best friends, Yaz, Ryan and Graham have to pick up their lives without her. But it’s not easy. Old habits die hard. Especially when they discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek, without the Doctor?”
We also have this promo shot of the Doctor in said prison:
There’s also this shot of her companions plotting her rescue:
Now, we know that the answer to her escape is Captain Jack Harkness, who will team up with the ‘fam’ to help fight the Daleks and save the world whilst the Doctor is locked away in prison. The release date trailer also reveals that the Daleks will be new ‘security drones’ for the British government, though how they get into that position remains to be seen.
We imagine that the Doctor and Jack will eventually reunite, and take on the big fight side-by-side. Whether Jack sticks around for season 13 remains to be seen – but we do know that not everyone will.
The BBC has confirmed that the New Year’s special will be the final episode for Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole, a.k.a. Graham and Ryan.
“As the Doctor I will say that the fam as a four is no more,” Whitaker said. “This will be the last time we see Bradley and Tosin. Absolutely devastated. Knowing it was my last scene with those actors, both of them had to carry me to my trailer. I’ve not cried like that in… Brad couldn’t cope with it at all.”
Whether it’s the absolute last we’ll see of the two isn’t clear – Chibnall teased “You’ll just have to see won’t you?” – but for now at least, the fam will be reduced.
What about season 13?
As mentioned above, season 13 has entered production of the eight episodes that are on the way, and Whitaker at least has confirmed she’s on board for a return.
“Yes, I’m doing another season,” she told EW. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie! [Laughs] I absolutely adore it. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet. I’m clinging on tight!”
What we don’t know is who’ll be with her. As mentioned above, Walsh and Cole are leaving the show, though Mandip Gill’s Yaz is fortunately sticking around. What’s less certain is whether she’ll be the sole companion, or if someone new will be joining the pair in the Tardis.
“I think there’s a lot of mileage left in these characters. We know where they’re going and what they’re heading for and who they’re going to meet,” Chibnall said of the Doctor and Yaz. “We will be back with some very very exciting, fun, thrilling mad episodes after this [New Year’s] special has aired.”
Watch the best Christmas TV ads 2020.