Doctor Who returns this weekend. How exciting is that?!
We’ve been teased about the Twelfth Doctor’s inaugural adventure for a while now, but what else do we know about the very-secret 12-episode run? Allow us to present to you… Series 8.
Naturally, mild spoilers will follow in our Doctor Who Series 8 preview, but, to paraphrase the Tenth Doctor, we’ve tried to steer you away from major developments.
1. Deep Breath
Writer: Steven Moffat. Director: Ben Wheatley.
Airdate: 23rd August 2014.
When the Doctor arrives in Victorian London, he finds a dinosaur rampant in the Thames and a spate of deadly spontaneous combustions.
Who is the new Doctor and will Clara’s friendship survive as they embark on a terrifying mission into the heart of an alien conspiracy? The Doctor has changed. It’s time you knew him.
Guest-starring: Peter Ferdinando (Half-Face Man); Paul Hickey (Inspector Gregson); Tony Way (Alf); Maggie Service (Elsie); Mark Kempner (Cabbie); Brian Miller (Barney); Graham Duff (Waiter); Ellis George (Courtney); and Peter Hannah (Policeman).
A slaughterhouse restaurant and a buried spaceship lead the Doctor into a confrontation with a long-forgotten foe…
75 minutes in length, this is the longest NuWho episode so far, narrowly besting 2007’s Voyage of the Damned. It sees the Twelfth Doctor and Clara crashing in the Victorian Era, with the Paternoster Gang (last seen in The Name of the Doctor) – Vastra, Jenny and Strax – supporting their newly-regenerated friend.
Ellis George’s Courtney, a pupil at Coal Hill School, makes an unexpected appearance ahead of her on-screen brother, Danny Pink, played by Samuel Anderson, the latter of whom is expected to become a part-time companion.
Brian Miller is a familiar face for Whovians: not only was he married to the late Elisabeth Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith, but he also featured in Snakedance (1983) as Dugdale. He also supplied Dalek voices in Resurrection of the Daleks (1984) and Remembrance of the Daleks (1988), as well as an appearance in The Sarah Jane Adventures story, The Mad Woman in the Attic (2009).
Some may also draw parallels with the naming of Paul Hickey’s Inspector Gregson with the Sherlock Holmes character of the same name. And could Maggie Service’s Elsie be running the local pub, The Rose & Crown?
The British Board of Film Classification has revealed several minor plot points (and a few larger ones, which I have edited out so as not to spoil it for anyone), notably dinosaurs and robots running amok, a sword fight, and talk of robots ‘harvesting’ humans. And it’s getting very good reviews.
2. Into The Dalek
Writer: Phil Ford. Director: Ben Wheatley.
Airdate: 30th August 2014.
A Dalek fleet surrounds a lone rebel ship, and only the Doctor can help them now… With the Doctor facing his greatest enemy, he needs Clara by his side.
Confronted with a decision that could change the Daleks forever he is forced to examine his conscience. Will he find the answer to the question, am I a good man?
Guest-starring: Michael Smiley (Colonel Blue); Zawe Ashton (Lilia Power); and Ben Crompton (Ross).
In the dying days of a bitter war, a beleaguered army has one last hope: a Dalek so damaged it has become good. But can it be trusted? To find out, a miniaturised team, led by The Doctor and Clara, embark on a fantastic voyage into the Dalek itself…
Phil Ford returns to the fold! Ford previously co-wrote 2009’s The Waters of Mars with Russell T. Davies and became head writer from Series 2 of The Sarah Jane Adventures. “What’s the most dangerous place you put the Doctor, we wondered,” remembers Steven Moffat. “And then we put him there… Oh, it’s a proper blockbuster, this episode. So many explosions that Peter Capaldi came in on his day off to watch the Daleks blowing up. I like a Doctor who revels in the destruction of evil in his downtime.”
A clip released on BBC Breakfast saw the Doctor and Clara (his ‘carer’) striding up a corridor, flanked by Fresh Meat‘s Zawe Ashton (who initially played Donovan in the unaired pilot of Sherlock), and Michael Smiley, who is best known for playing Benny in Luther but has also starred in Ripper Street and Wire in the Blood. This is the second episode directed by Ben Wheatley, who Smiley worked with on the horror film, Kill List (2011). His involvement has led many to conclude that the start of Series 8 will be noticeably darker!
Into The Dalek, riffing off well-known sci-fi ideas previously explored in The Invisible Enemy (1977), is also rumoured to introduce Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink, and, after an intriguing teaser trailer, some think Davros will return…
3. Robot of Sherwood
Writer: Mark Gatiss. Director: Paul Murphy.
Expected Airdate: 6th September 2014.
In a sun-dappled Sherwood Forest, the Doctor discovers an evil plan from beyond the stars. But with Nottingham at stake (and possibly Derby), there’s no time for the two adventurers to get into a fight about who is real and who isn’t – which is probably why they do very little else!
Guest-starring: Tom Riley (Robin Hood); Ben Miller (Sheriff of Nottingham); Sabrina Bartlett (Marion); Trevor Cooper (Friar Tuck); Ian Hallard (Alan-a-dale); Roger Ashton-Griffiths (Master Quail); David Benson; and Rusty George.
Yes, more robots! This time, however, we’re getting the Doctor Who version of Robin Hood, with Tom Riley as the robber-of-the-rich. Moffat described this as Gatiss’ “best Who yet.” Mark’s partner, Hallard, appears as one of the Merry Men, but you may recognise him from An Adventure in Space and Time, in which he played The Daleks director, Richard Martin.
Moffat has said that “it’s about being a hero. The Doctor’s going through a period of his life where he’s worrying about whether he counts as a good man,” as well as describing it as “very, very funny.” A similar vein as The Crimson Horror, perhaps?
Da Vinci’s Demons star, Tom Riley has stated that Capaldi will “completely revitalise the show.” A few years after his comedy partner, Alexander Armstrong, appeared in 2011’s The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, Ben Miller will finally make his Who debut, albeit it hidden behind a rather impressive beard. He joked: “As a committed Whovian I cannot believe my luck in joining the Twelfth Doctor for one of his inaugural adventures. My only worry is that they will make me leave the set when I’m not filming.”
Expect sword fights. And remember: there’s no such thing as Robin Hood!
Writer: Steven Moffat. Director: Douglas McKinnon.
Expected Airdate: 13th September 2014.
What scares the grand old man of time? What horrors lurk under his bed? Ghosts of the past and future crowd into the lives of the Doctor and Clara: a terrified caretaker in a children’s home; the last man standing in the universe; and a little boy who doesn’t want to join the army…
Guest-starring: Robert Goodman (Reg).
When you talk to yourself, what if the person you’re talking to isn’t really you?
Filmed across February, very little is known about this episode – but doesn’t it already sound really creepy?!
Danny Pink returns, perhaps going on a date with Clara before getting accidentally involved with one of the Doctor’s madcap adventures. “I was so excited to join Doctor Who I wanted to jump and click my heels, but I was scared I might not come down before filming started!”said Anderson. “It’s a quintessential part of British culture and I can’t believe I’m part of it.”
Moffat said that it featured “the Doctor having what appears to be a mild nervous breakdown.”
You might recognise guest actor, Robert Goodman from Trial of a Time Lord, in which he took various uncredited roles – notably as an officer on the Hyperion III, and briefly cropping up in Nightmare of Eden, Full Circle and Arc of Infinity. Others will know him from Game of Thrones and Gangs of New York (2002).
Steven further teased that Listen is “a complete departure for me in terms of writing Doctor Who. A tiny guest cast, no CGI… It’s actually quite a scary one. I sometimes wonder: ‘What does The Doctor do when there’s nothing going on? Does he go and find something to poke a stick at?’ Of course he must. Essentially it’s downtime for the Doctor. But don’t worry, it involves a monster.” Certainly sounds promising!
5. Time Heist
Writers: Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat. Director: Douglas MacKinnon.
Expected Airdate: 20th September 2014.
The Bank of Karabraxos is the deadliest bank in the cosmos – only a fool or genius would tempt to rob it. Fortunately, for the Doctor, he’s both. But nothing even the Doctor has encountered can prepare him and Clara for the Teller: a creature of terrifying power that can detect guilt.
Guest-starring: Keeley Hawes (Miss Delphox); Jonathan Bailey; and Pippa Bennett-Warner.
Well, it’s about time Keeley Hawes appeared in our favourite show.
She’s starred in high-profile BBC shows like Line of Duty and Ashes to Ashes, and is married to her Spooks co-star Matthew Macfadyen, so you definitely know her.
“I had such a lovely time on Doctor Who,” she said. “I can’t really call it work; it was absolutely lovely. My favourite part was something I thought I’d never get to do – when the camera shakes… Y’know, that kind of cheap effect! [Laughs] With the new Doctor! With Peter Capaldi – who is brilliant – and the lovely Jenna Coleman. They were so welcoming. It’s quite nerve-wracking going on to a big show like that. They were absolutely delightful.”
Miss Delphox is a banker, and Moffat has called it “a heist movie” with “a cracking monster.”
You may also know Jonathan Bailey from Broadchurch and Pippa Bennett-Warner from The Smoke.
It’s also interesting to note that Moffat has co-writing credit on this episode and the next; he co-wrote Sherlock‘s The Sign of Three with Thompson and Gatiss too, so maybe they’re finding the collaborative process a nicer prospect.
6. The Caretaker
Writers: Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat. Director: Paul Murphy.
Expected Airdate: 27th September 2014.
Clara has it all under control: her life at school, her life in space; her new boyfriend and her mad old Time Lord. Everything is humming along just fine, so long as everybody never actually meets. And then, one morning, just before assembly, Coal Hill welcomes a new relief caretaker with a Scottish accent.
Guest-starring: Jimmy Vee (Scovox); Edward Harrison; Andy Gillies; and Nigel Betts.
What if the Doctor were the caretaker at Coal Hill School…?
Moffat has brought Roberts back based on his love of The Lodger (2010) – “one of those rare episodes I watch just to cheer myself up,” Steven says – but Gareth’s also written The Shakespeare Code (2007), The Unicorn and the Wasp (2008), and Closing Time (2011), as well as co-writing 2009’s Planet of the Dead. Steven described The Caretaker as “something similar [to The Lodger]. Not that similar, mind – but character-driven, funny, with our hero bumping against the real world.”
As it takes place at the school, Ellis George turns up again as Danny Pink’s sister, Courtney.
Jimmy Vee also returns, having played Bannakaffalatta in Voyage of the Damned, the mermaid-pig in Aliens of London (2005), and the Moxx of Balhoon in The End of the World.
Director, Paul Murphy has had experience with Russell T. Davies’ Wizards Vs. Aliens plus Casualty, Grange Hill, and Trollied. Looks like he’s been in charge of the two funniest episodes this series.
7. Kill The Moon
Writer: Peter Harness. Director: Paul Wilmshurst.
Expected Airdate: 4th October 2014.
In the near future, the Doctor and Clara arrive on a decrepit shuttle making a suicide mission to the Moon. Crashing on the lunar surface, they find a mining base full of eviscerated corpses, spider-like creatures scuttling about in the dark, and a terrible dilemma.
Guest-starring: Hermoine Norris; Tony Osoba; Phil Nice; and Christopher Dane.
“Peter is about to remind you that the Doctor isn’t a hero every day – brace yourself,” Steven Moffat warns.
Partly-filmed in Lanzarote, Moffat teased that the Doctor returns to “the scene of an old adventure” – could this be Sarn, as seen in Planet of Fire (1984), or more simply, the moon?
The red spacesuit, which made its debut in 2006’s The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit and further appeared in The Waters of Mars and Hide (2013), is donned by the Doctor once more, but Clara, too, has one… as does returning sometimes-companion, Courtney Pink (Ellis George), who has seemingly convinced the Doctor to take her a trip into time and space!
Steven also said that Kill The Moon features “probably my most single favourite scene in the whole run this year.”
8. Mummy on the Orient Express
Writer: Jamie Mathieson. Director: Paul Wilmhurst.
Expected Airdate: 11th October 2014.
Aboard the most beautiful train in history, speeding among the stars of the future, a legend is stalking the passengers. Once you see the Mummy, you have 66 seconds to live. Clara sees the Doctor at his most deadliest and most ruthless – and finally she realises she’s made the right decision.
Because this is their last adventure: it’s time to say goodbye to the Time Lord.
Guest-starring: Frank Skinner; Foxes; David Bamber; Daisy Beaumont; Janet Henfrey; and Christopher Villiers.
The Doctor is catching up on his phone calls!
Cast your mind back to 2010’s The Big Bang, at the end of which the TARDIS phone rang out. The Doctor answered: “She was sealed into the seventh Obelisk. I was at the prayer meeting… Well, no, I get that it’s important. An Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express – in space.” This episode might pick up the plot thread.
Moffat called new writer, Jamie Mathieson a “big old fan – we couldn’t keep him away with guns and sticks.” Mathieson, whose two episodes were filmed in one block, has a great history of both sci-fi and time travel, his first credit to the 2009 comedy film, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel. He’s also worked on Being Human (created by The God Complex scribe, Toby Whithouse), and Dirk Gently (a series spawned from two novels by the legendary Douglaas Adams).
Director, Paul Wilmhurst’s credits include Strike Back, Da Vinci’s Demons and Silent Witness, and has previously worked with guest star and comedian Frank Skinner.
Writer: Jamie Mathieson. Director: Douglas MacKinnon.
Expected Airdate: 18th October 2014.
Separated from the Doctor, Clara discovers a new menace from another dimension. But how do you hide when even the walls are no protection?
Guest-starring: Christopher Fairbank (Fenton); Joivan Wade (Rigsy); James Quinn (Bill); John Cummins (Roscoe); Matt Bardock (Al); Raj Bajaj (George); and Jessica Hayes.
Those photos of a tinier TARDIS come from this episode, which sees Clara having to carry the Time-Space Ship – and the Doctor! – around in her handbag after they’re shrunken down to miniature size.
Further photos revealed graffiti people lining the sides of a tunnel, all facing away into the concrete. Spooky…
Indeed, Moffat called it “a horror story. It starts off with a very cute idea and becomes really quite frightening by the end.”
10. In The Forest of the Night
Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce. Director: Sheree Folkson.
Expected Airdate: 25th October 2014.
One morning in London, and every city and town in the world, the human race wakes up to the most surprising invasion yet: the trees have moved back in. Everywhere, in every land, a forest has grown overnight and taken back the Earth.
Guest-starring: Jaydon Harris-Wallace (Samson); Ashley Foster; Harley Bird; and Abigail Eames.
The last episode to be filmed, concluded earlier this month, In The Forest of the Night takes its name from a William Blake poem called The Tyger. Specifically, from the opening verse:
” Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”
The poem questions how God can create something that is so beautiful and yet so dangerous too. In fact, Moffat confirmed that the episode is “boldly beautiful, lyrical and poetic.”
Frank Cottrell Boyce is a new name to the show, but most notably wrote the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony.
This episode is set partly back at Coal Hill School, including Samuel Anderson back as Danny.
11/12. Dark Water/ Death in Heaven
Writer: Steven Moffat. Director: Rachel Talalay.
Expected Airdates: 1st & 8th November 2014.
“You betrayed me. You betrayed my trust, our friendship, and everything I’ve ever stood for. You let me down.”
In the mysterious world of the Nethersphere, plans have been drawn. Old friends and old enemies manoeuvre around the Doctor, and an impossible choice is looming over him.
Guest-starring: Michelle Gomez (Gatekeeper of the Nethersphere); Chris Addison; Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart); Ingrid Oliver (Osgood); and Sanjeev Bhaskar.
Danny also returns in this finale, the first proper two-parter since 2011’s The Rebel Flesh/ The Almost People, as does Jemma Redgrave as the Brigadier’s daughter and Ingrid Oliver as UNIT Scientist, Osgood – both of whom were last seen in the 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor.
At the London Film and Comic Con, Moffat revealed that he had more fun writing these scripts than ever before, and hinting that “it’s about Clara and the Doctor and the fact that the way they interact might not be healthy for everyone around them.”
Rachel Talalay oversaw filming outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, seemingly recreating that famous scene from The Invasion (1968) – particularly as the Cybermen are back!
So that’s what’s coming up in the next 12 weeks. Series 8 is going to be fantastic. As to what comes next… Christmas, of course!