ByMax Farrow, writer at
Fanatical film-watcher, Hill-walker, Writer and Biscuit Connoisseur. Follow me on Twitter: @Farrow91 or on Facebook: @maxfarrowwriter
Max Farrow

Sadness swelled up in the Doctor Who fandom earlier this year when Time Lord incumbent Peter Capaldi regretfully announced that he was leaving the beloved British sci-fi show. However, it’s hard for Whovians to stay unhappy for long, especially when they have a fresh series to enjoy — plus it seems that they may have cause to even look forward to Capaldi’s exit.

If a new report is to be believed, a very familiar face from the Classic Era will reappear in the Twelfth Doctor’s swansong, in a way that nobody was expecting.

The First Doctor

William Hartnell - the First Doctor [Credit: BBC]
William Hartnell - the First Doctor [Credit: BBC]

Doctor Who has always been about time-hopping friends and foes, but Series 10 certainly seems to be bringing back swaths of the show’s most stalwart adversaries. John Simm’s Master is set for a return along the Mondassian Cybermen, but as Peter Capaldi’s tenure ends it looks like he will have a very special sidekick to assist him — and, according to The Mirror, it is none other than the First Doctor himself.

"Wait," the fans will no doubt cry, "isn’t William Hartnell, well, no longer with us? How then, can the First Doctor return?"

[Credit: BBC]
[Credit: BBC]

Well, the Mirror’s report discloses that for the second time in the show’s history, the role is being recast. Indeed, body doubles have been used for brief glimpses of the character before now, and Richard Hurndall assumed the part of the First Doctor for the 20th anniversary special, titled "The Five Doctors." Now, actor David Bradley will apparently reassume the role for the upcoming Christmas Special.

David Bradley as Walder Frey in 'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]
David Bradley as Walder Frey in 'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]

fans will instantly recognize him for his time as Argus Filch in the acclaimed film series, and fans will have immediately realized that he also played Walder Frey (Booo! Hiss!), but Whovians know that Bradley already has a history with Who. Certainly, he was the sadistic and villainous Solomon in the episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," and he was previously acquainted with the part of the First Doctor when he played William Hartnell in the TV drama "An Adventure in Space and Time.

David Bradley, the spitting image of William Hartnell in 'An Adventure in Space and Time'  [Credit: BBC]
David Bradley, the spitting image of William Hartnell in 'An Adventure in Space and Time' [Credit: BBC]

Written by ’s Mark Gatiss, it was a loving and touching tribute to Doctor Who that was elevated by Bradley’s stellar performance through the exploration of the show’s early days for its 50th Anniversary. Coincidentally, it seems that the events of this celebration, along with Bradley’s Doctor, will feature very heavily in Capaldi’s farewell.

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Going Back To Gallifrey

Fans will no doubt remember how 2013’s "The Day of the Doctor" ended, with all 13 Doctors, including Peter Capaldi’s version, teaming up to save Gallifrey by placing the planet inside a pocket universe. As it was with many of the previous Doctors, the First and Twelfth Doctors were only glimpsed very briefly as they busily piloted their TARDISes. Yet, if the Mirror is to be believed, we may well discover exactly what these two incarnations were up to.

Many Whovians had mainly assumed that a (relatively) short time before the disappearance of Gallifrey, the War, Tenth () and Eleventh Doctors simply popped up and recruited their fellow incarnations from their respective timelines.

The two versions of the Eleventh Doctor go on very well. [Credit: BBC]
The two versions of the Eleventh Doctor go on very well. [Credit: BBC]

Not so, says the Mirror’s unidentified source. In fact, the whole of the Christmas Special will reportedly explore what roles the First and Twelfth Doctors played in the final moments of the Time War, and how these events will cause Peter Capaldi’s Doctor to regenerate.

Will death come in the form of a stray Dalek energy beam? Or could the Master/Missy finally outwit our hero? Naturally, we won't know until much later in this series — however, according to the same news report, it seems like the Twelfth Doctor’s transition into his Thirteenth body was foreshadowed years ago!

Remember that now famous moment where we first glimpsed Capaldi’s furious eyebrows in the TARDIS? Apparently, this shot occurs mere moments before the golden light bursts from his body and the as-of-yet unannounced Thirteenth Doctor takes centre stage.

Blimey, talk about wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey-stuff eh? The BBC have yet to confirm any of this, but it all sounds pretty darn plausible. After all, the departure of David Tennant and show runner Russell T Davies revisited many characters and previous plot points, so it seems very likely that will do the same.

On The Threshold Of Thirteen

The Tenth Doctor mid-regeneration [Credit: BBC]
The Tenth Doctor mid-regeneration [Credit: BBC]

What to make of this news? Well, if it’s true, then the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas Special has the potential to be a barn-stormingly brilliant episode. Certainly, revisiting "The Day of the Doctor" would be a smart move on Moffat’s part, since it has been one of the most warmly received installments of his tenure. Plus, its deconstruction of the character could give the demise of Doctor Numero 12 a powerful and poignant feel, especially if his first-ever incarnation is present.

The Twelfth Doctor being as friendly as ever [Credit: BBC]
The Twelfth Doctor being as friendly as ever [Credit: BBC]

And as for David Bradley reassuming the role of the First Doctor? Well, the Mirror’s source said it best:

“David was [very] convincing as Hartnell, [and] it’s exciting he’s back.”

Indeed, Bradley’s previously committed and compelling performance as William Hartnell is sure to put the more cynical fans at ease, as well as stoke their anticipation for the serial. Indeed, it could be very entertaining seeing the First and Twelfth Doctors come face to face, especially since they have similarly strong-willed, crotchety personalities.

Yet as much as we might find the Christmas Special funny, we will have to resign ourselves to the fact that Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the Doctor will be over. We’d better stock up on those tissues beforehand so we’re ready for the incoming emotions!


How excited are you to see the First Doctor return in the Christmas Special?

(Poll Image: BBC. Source: The Mirror)


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