Doctor Who: BBC Centenary special release date, trailer, and cast with Jodie Whittaker and Sacha Dhawan

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A trailer for the next episode was released following Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils

Jodie Whittaker only has one episode left as the Doctor. Her next story will be her last – a regeneration special that’s going to air as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations.

While we don’t know much about the plot of the upcoming episode – which will air on Sunday (23 October) – we do know it’ll see the return of 1980s companions Tegan and Ace, as well as villains like the Daleks, Cybermen, and the Master.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming Doctor Who autumn special.

What is it about?

An official synopsis from the BBC reveals that the Doctor “must fight for her very existence, against her deadliest enemies: the Daleks, the Cybermen and her arch-nemesis, the Master.”

“Who is attacking a speeding bullet train on the edges of a distant galaxy? Why are seismologists going missing from 21st century Earth? Who is defacing some of history’s most iconic paintings? Why is a Dalek trying to make contact with the Doctor? And just what hold does the mesmeric Rasputin have over Tsar Nicholas in 1916 Russia? The Doctor faces multiple threats…and a battle to the death.”

What’s the episode called?

The official title of the Doctor Who BBC centenary special is ‘The Power of the Doctor’, which both calls back to the 50th anniversary (The Day of the Doctor) and Matt Smith’s regeneration episode (The Time of the Doctor). It also is possibly just literal, since it’s a regeneration episode, and that’s a sort of power.

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(This being formally announced put an end to my joke it would be called “Regeneration on Ranskoor Av Kolos”, in reference to Chris Chibnall’s much-loved Series 11 finale “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”.)

Who is in the cast?

Obviously, we’ve got our usual cast – Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, Mandip Gill as Yaz, and John Bishop as Dan. Whittaker you’ll probably recognise from Broadchurch and Adult Life Skills (worth a watch if you’ve not seen it yet), Gill from Hollyoaks or Suspicion, and Bishop from his career as a stand-up comedian.

The trailer also revealed that the centenary will see the return of 1980s Doctor Who companions Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Ace (Sophie Aldred). Tegan was companion to both Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor and Peter Davison’s fifth Doctor, appearing on the show between 1981 and 1984. Ace, meanwhile, was companion to Sylvester McCoy’s seventh Doctor, appearing from 1987 to 1989 – notably making her the last companion to appear in the show’s original run, and still one of the most popular.

Sophie Aldred as Ace in the 1980s, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Janet Fielding as Tegan in 2022, and Janet Fielding as Tegan in the 1980s (Credit L-R: BBC; James Pardon; BBC)Sophie Aldred as Ace in the 1980s, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Janet Fielding as Tegan in 2022, and Janet Fielding as Tegan in the 1980s (Credit L-R: BBC; James Pardon; BBC)
Sophie Aldred as Ace in the 1980s, Sophie Aldred as Ace and Janet Fielding as Tegan in 2022, and Janet Fielding as Tegan in the 1980s (Credit L-R: BBC; James Pardon; BBC) | L-R: BBC; James Pardon; BBC

Vinder – a new friend of the Doctor’s from recent episodes of Series 13, played by Game of Thrones’ Jacob Anderson – also features in the trailer. Though we don’t see them here, it seems likely that if Vinder is returning, so too will Karvanista (Craig Els) and Bel (Thaddea Graham), last seen flying into space with Vinder at the end of Series 13.

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In terms of villains, we know that the Master will return, as will the Cybermen and the Daleks. The Cybermen seem to be lead by the partially converted Ashad, played by Patrick O’Kane (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

Sacha Dhawan returns as the Master here. You’ll likely recognise Dhawan from all over the place – he’s a prolific actor, and a very talented one too – but he’s probably best known for roles in the History Boys, In the Club, and Last Tango in Halifax.

The episode will be written by outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall, and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone (who previously handled several instalments of Series 12 and 13, including The Timeless Children and Village of the Angels).

Is there a trailer?

Yes - in fact, there’s several! The below teaser ran at the end of Easter special Legend of the Sea Devils...

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... and this longer trailer was released a few weeks ahead of The Power of the Doctor.

When is it on?

The Doctor Who special is going to air as part of the BBC’s centenary celebrations, kicking off a week of programing on Sunday 23 October.

The BBC was founded on 18 October 1922, and it’s currently planning a full sweep of specials to commemorate that – there’s going to be a Horrible Histories special, a new David Attenborough documentary, so on and so forth.

Is The Power of the Doctor going to tie into BBC history, if it’s to celebrate the BBC centenary?

In a recent-ish interview with the Radio Times, Chris Chibnall revealed that, yes, the special will “celebrate” the BBC. “There are some treats,” he said, “Easter eggs and kisses to the past”.

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It’s not exactly clear what that’ll mean – a Lord Reith celebrity historical? A Trials and Tribbleations style jaunt through the BBC archive? Will the Doctor hijack the first BBC radio transmission to defeat the Daleks? (Actually, that last one feels quite likely, bookmark this.)

Who is the next Doctor?

The Doctor after Jodie Whittaker will be played by Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa. Gatwa will make his Doctor Who debut in Series 14, which will see Russell T Davies (It’s A Sin) once again at the helm of the show; alongside or perhaps prior to this, you can also expect to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate reprising their Doctor Who roles as part of the show’s 60th anniversary diamond celebrations.

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