"The Doctors will return at Christmas." This was the line that viewers saw at the end Doctor Who Series 10. The line followed a cliffhanger in which the Twelfth Doctor, struggling to hold off his regeneration, encountered the First Doctor, who also seemed to be close to regenerating.
The 2017 Christmas special, which recently wrapped filming, will presumably feature the two Doctors helping each other to come to terms with the upcoming change. The special is also rumored to include an appearance from Jenna Coleman as former companion, Clara Oswald.
But, will the First and the Twelfth Doctors be the only Doctors to return? While this seem most likely, on the other hand, departing showrunner Steven Moffat may want to go out with a bang, setting up an epic Multi-Doctor team up for his swan song.
Warning: Spoilers for Doctor Who Series 10.
At Least Three Incarnations Are Certain To Appear In the Special.
We have One and Twelve, of course, and due to the Twelfth Doctor's impending regeneration, the yet to be revealed Thirteenth Doctor will make his — or her — first appearance in the special. This guarantees fans an appearance by at least three different Doctors.
However, the re-casting of the First Doctor — now played by David Bradley, who previously portrayed First Doctor actor, William Hartnell in the docudrama An Adventure In Space And Time — opens up some interesting possibilities. With Bradley's casting being mostly well received, the #BBC may be more comfortable with the idea of recasting other classic Doctors.
The Second Doctor
If we're correct in the assumption that the First Doctor is approaching regeneration — and that plot line is carried through to its conclusion — then we may also catch a glimpse of the Second Doctor, originally played by Patrick Troughton from 1966 - 1969. While the Second Doctor has never been recast outside of a few voice performances in Big Finish audio dramas, actor Reece Shearsmith briefly appeared as Patrick Troughton in An Adventure In Space And Time, recreating classic Second Doctor poses in promotional images for the film.
So, Shearsmith is a good bet to fill the role again if the Second Doctor does appear. However, it's equally as likely that any appearance will be through a digital effects created cameo, similar to the brief shot of Christopher Eccleston's eyes as the War Doctor begins to regenerate in "Day Of The Doctor."
The Third Doctor
This may be wishful thinking since — as per the most commonly theorized plot of the Christmas special — an appearance from the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), may not necessarily make sense (quite a shame, considering that he would probably be the easiest classic Doctor to recast). #Gotham star Sean Pertwee, son of Jon Pertwee, sent fans into a spin with a 2015 Instagram post in which he had photo-shopped a picture of himself with his Father's Doctor Who haircut, revealing an uncanny resemblance. Sean has already expressed willingness to step into his father's shoes if asked, showing a strong desire to appear in Doctor Who. While his Gotham commitments kept him from accepting an offer to appear in Series 9, he has not ruled it out for the future, saying:
"I’d love to be in some capacity be involved, as an ode to my father and to Roger Delgado, who was my dad’s best friend, who was the Master."
There is one way in which a Third Doctor cameo could work. Maybe, the Christmas special could take a path similar to the classic film It's A Wonderful Life, allowing the First and Twelfth Doctors to look forward/back on their lives, in order to help themselves feel better about their approaching regenerations.
The Eleventh Doctor
The possibility of an Eleventh Doctor appearance is more likely than you might think. #MattSmith, who played The Eleventh Doctor from 2010-2013, has often said that he would return to the series if asked. He has also stated that he would like to return for the departure of Steven Moffat as the two begun their Doctor Who journey together.
As fans will remember, the Eleventh Doctor accepted his own impending regeneration with a wonderful sense of calm. If the special did indeed follow a It's A Wonderful Life-type scenario, the Eleventh Doctor could act as the angel in the original film, guiding and supporting his past and future selves.
The Fall Of The Twelfth
So, there you have it. We will see at least three Doctors this Christmas, though this could be bumped up to four, or even five. The only thing we know for certain is that we will lose at least one. #Whovians are in for yet another bittersweet Christmas night as we say goodbye to our beloved Twelfth Doctor.