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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!

Jonathan Appleton

A regular Doctor Who viewer since Pertwee fought maggots and spiders, Jonathan isn't about to stop now. He considers himself lucky to have grown up in an era when Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 could all be seen on primetime BBC1. As well as writing regularly for The Doctor Who Companion he's had chapters included in a couple of Blakes 7 books.

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

by Jonathan Appleton time to read: 2 min
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