Christmas Special: Not Even Director Rachel Talalay Knows Who the Next Doctor Will Be

Filming may have ended on this year’s Christmas special but it seems that one key scene hasn’t been shot yet. You may have thought that director Rachel Talalay would have been one of the first to learn the identity of the Thirteenth Doctor but it appears not…

Or at least it does if you interpret a recent tweet in a certain way:

Curious, huh? Radio Times, that great repository of speculation on the future of our favourite show, goes into some depth as to why this may not be as strange as it first seems, floating the notion that the regeneration hasn’t been filmed yet because it’s going to be done in two parts, as has indeed been the case with other changes over the years. Us fans certainly like to think it’s only right and proper that these things are done on the same day with the incoming actor, dressed for the one and only time in their predecessor’s costume, waiting slightly awkwardly in the wings whilst the production staff tiptoe around the outgoing Doctor, wondering when will be the right moment to hand over the carriage clock and bottle of brandy.

RT is correct to assert that it isn’t always done this way and that both actors don’t necessarily have to be on set at the same time for the crucial changeover sequence. But their conclusion from Talalay’s tweet that the scene hasn’t been shot yet feels a little off to me. She doesn’t actually say that the regeneration hasn’t been filmed – simply that she has ‘no knowledge of 13’. Could it be that she’s being enigmatic here? Her lack of knowledge could mean that she doesn’t know any substantive details about the next Doctor – how whoever it is will play the part, what they will be wearing and so on – rather than that she has no idea who it is.

It would be possible, of course, for a small crew to come together at a later date with the new lead actor to film the remainder of the regeneration but I’m not so sure. We’re still waiting for news on the identity of the next Doctor but it seems unthinkable that the deal isn’t signed and sealed by now. Would the production team really want to delay shooting the changeover, with all that would mean for the resources and planning involved in getting key people together again for the sake of a day or so of filming? Maybe, particularly if they are worried about the news leaking if the new lead actor is spotted in a taxi in Cardiff, or perhaps if they’ve been busy filming another production.

What do you think? Is Talalay telling it straight? Can it really be that number 13 is yet to set foot onto the TARDIS set? Could it be that we’re only going to find out just before the credits roll at the end of the episode on Christmas Day?! Let us know below!

  • bar none but PC

    Rachel T may be telling it straight – after all, how many people were involved in the creation & filming of Night of the Doctor? – one of the best-kept secrets ever in WHO. However, given the announcement is tomorrow, I’d rather they just got on with it.

  • Dr. Moo (cow)

    They tend to film each half of the regeneration sequence separately, months apart sometimes, so it’s entirely possible she’s telling the truth. On the other hand, she’s probably graduated from The Moffat School Of Denying Everything after doing THREE finales with him (or four if this special counts).

  • The Lazy Womble

    Never mind, she’ll know tomorrow.

  • Rick714

    When Tennant left and Smith came in, the old team (RTD, Tennant, producers and co.) physically left the studio and let the new team (Moffat, Smith, producers and co.) wade on in to film. It’s not unreasonable to assume that the same thing happened here, including the director. It was probably a closed set to ensure secrecy— because let’s face it, there are plenty of nimrods who would love to blow the secret ahead of time. The Beeb would probably love to hold out even longer but the longer they wait, the more certain they’d lose control of the situation.

  • Robert Carnegie

    Rule one. The Director lies. 🙂 (I expect she got that about 1000 times??)