Doctor Who Series 12: what to make of the rumours

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On November 1, The Mirror reported that the Doctor Who special for Series 11 will air on New Year’s Day of 2019 rather than on Christmas day.

Doctor Who will not have a Christmas Day outing this year for the first time since the reboot in 2005.

Instead, 13th Time Lord Jodie Whittaker will have an hour-long special which runs at New Year – with a storyline that relates to the arrival of 2019.”


Doctor Who Magazine #532 confirmed that the eleventh episode of Doctor Who filmed in this past production run will air on New Year’s Day 2019, not Christmas Day 2018. The tenth episode, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos, will be the last new Doctor Who episode to air in 2018, on December 9.

The Mirror goes on to quote former showrunner Steven Moffat from a December 2017 interview as the reason for this change.

“I sort of think we might have mined and possibly over mined every single thing we could about Christmas in Doctor Who and the last time we more or less ignored it…”

When Steven Moffat says “last time” he is referring to the 2016 Doctor Who Christmas episode The Return of Doctor Mysterio which only featured a brief Christmas scene in the beginning of the episode. The 2017 Doctor Who Christmas special Twice Upon a Time featured the World War 1 Christmas Truce at the end of the episode.

The Mirror chose an old interview from the former showrunner as the reason the current showrunner Chris Chibnall would choose not to make an episode to air on Christmas. This does not make much sense.

Also consider Steven Moffat had previously claimed that he had originally planned to bow out after writing the last episode of Series 10 but wrote Twice Upon a Time because he feared Doctor Who would lose its December 25 time slot if no Doctor Who special aired that day. It would not make sense for Moffat to go to all that effort without first checking with Chris Chibnall to see if he wanted to create something for a 2018 Christmas day airing.

It gets worse. The Mirror also claims that the eleventh episode of Doctor Who Series 11 is the only new episode of Doctor Who that will air in 2019.

“One source said: ‘BBC bosses have already made the bold move of shifting the entire series from Saturday to Sunday nights so they won’t be scared about moving the festive special from Christmas to New Year.’

The episode is likely to be the ONLY outing for Doctor Who next year, with fans facing a ‘gap year’ until 2020.

Filming on Jodie’s second series has been pushed back to early 2019, meaning the series is unlikely to be finished in time to air in the autumn.”


BBC One officially announced that Series 12 will air in 2020 with a quote from Chris Chibnall.

“We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped – as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor. We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences, so we can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole to BBC One. Brilliant!”

While the BBC attempts to put a positive spin on this development, there is no denying that this is a delay.

Series 11 began principal photography on October 31, 2017 for an October 7, 2018 premiere date.

Despite what Chris Chibnall says, principal photography has not yet begun for Series 12. They are “off again” with pre-production, not filming.

Contrast the Series 12 production and transmission schedule with that of Series 9 of Doctor Who, which produced twelve episodes and began filming in early January 2015 for a September 19, 2015 premiere.

What follows is a compilation of sometimes conflicting reports on the 2020 transmission rumour, now confirmed:

There were two social media posts which were posted prior to the November 1 Mirror article.

On October 22, there was a tweet which posted a short clipping, also from The Mirror, which stated that while Chris Chibnall had written most of Jodie Whittaker’s second series, there were no plans to begin filming in it in 2018 and that would mean another “gap year” for new episodes in 2019.

From the former editor of Doctor Who Magazine:

BBC Entertainment Correspondent Lizo Mzimba said, “it now looks unlikely Jodie Whittaker’s second series will air before 2020.”

STARBURST magazine claimed that their source in the Doctor Who production office were “happy to go on the record” that Series 12 of Doctor Who will transmit autumn 2019.

Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool chimed in.

“There have been lots of reasons given but Bleeding Cool has been given the real reason by well connected sources.

It’s so that the production team won’t have an entire year with no new Who. By dint of having an episode air on January 1st 2019. Because there’s no guarantee they’ll have a Christmas Special for 2019 either.

Instead I have been told to expect the twelfth series of the BBC’s science-fiction show to air in January 2020 at the earliest. Reasons given mostly revolve around production delays.”

“I am told to expect a BBC announcement to this effect very soon.”

The Hollywood Reporter reassured fans that Jodie Whittaker will be back as the Doctor for Series 12 and that they begin shooting early 2019.

Season 12 is expected to start shooting in early 2019.

Their article had a quote from Jodie Whittaker, herself.

“I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again. It’s such an incredible role. It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and I’m not quite ready to hand it over yet.”

More clues to the state of production progress and cast commitments:

The online CV for the costume designer Ray Holman states that he is involved in Series 12, it’s in pre-production, and production occurs 2018-2019.

Holman has since tweeted from his office at Roath Lock Studios, indicating pre-production activity for Series 12.

The replies to his tweet indicate the art department and concept artist are back at work as well.

On October 23, the Radio Times quotes a source as saying:

“We go into production next month, but it’s much too early to be making scheduling decisions anyway.”

“We hadn’t decided when the current series would air when we were filming it – we only decided a few months ago.” 

And here is Jodie Whittaker on November 1 in Penarth, Wales, right across Cardiff Bay from Roath Lock Studios where Doctor Who production is located.

From the concept artist when the STARBURST story broke. No other option?

Tosin Cole is performed in a play called Ear for Eye at the Royal Court Theatre in London which ran until November 22, 2018.

Bradley Walsh will host a new chat show series to begin filming in December 2018. Hosting a chat show takes far more time commitment than hosting a game show and Walsh hasn’t said he’s quitting The Chase. However, the above quote from Chris Chibnall says to expect more Bradley Walsh in Series 12. After Resolution airs on January 1, we should know whether or not this is a misdirection.

Back in August, CultBox reported that Series 12 production would likely begin November 2018. This fits with The Mirror TV editor’s claim that Chris Chibnall had already written most of Series 12. It’s possible that new circumstances emerged between August and October 2018.

The rumours have been answered. There is no need to further update this article.