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Doctor Who's New Year's Special Is Coming, and the TARDIS Looks Rough

It's already been having a tough time this season, but it seems things are only going to get worse.

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Red light streams through the cracks of the Doctor's damaged, police box-shaped TARDIS.
Image: BBC

There are only two episodes left in Doctor Whos 13th season, a single, serialized story subtitled Flux. But when it’s over, Jodie Whittaker won’t be done playing the Thirteenth Doctor quite yet. That will only happen during the last of three Who specials that will be airing over the course of 2022. As usual, the BBC is keeping the secrets of the next Doctor close to its metaphorical chest, but we do finally have a wee bit of detail on the first special, which arrives on New Year’s Day.

Here’s what we already know, in addition to the air date: both Mandip Gill and John Bishop will reprise their roles as the Thirteenth’s old companion Yasmin Khan and new companion Dan Lewis. If you’ve been watching Flux, you know the TARDIS is already in bad shape, manifesting mysterious doors, emitting black goo, and losing its defensive capabilities. However, it still looks way better in Flux than it does in this poster for the New Year’s special:

Image for article titled Doctor Who's New Year's Special Is Coming, and the TARDIS Looks Rough
Image: BBC

The humorously brief synopsis of the special doesn’t even refer to the TARDIS’ woes: “Sarah (Aisling Bea) owns and runs ELF storage, and Nick (Adjani Salmon) is a customer who visits his unit every year on New Year’s Eve. This year, however, their night turns out to be a little different than planned…”

There’s not a single episode of Doctor Who which you could describe as “things turn out to be a little different than planned…” and not have it be a wild understatement. Anyway, Last Night in Soho’s Pauline McLynn has also been cast in the special. What can we glean from the poster, other than that the TARDIS is having severe problems? While the light streaming from the cracks suggest those are actual holes revealing the (much bigger on the) inside, what made them? Is it the Flux, or are the problems the TARDIS has been having this season being caused by something else? The gashes sort of look like claw marks to me, but the pattern is all wrong. I’m not up on Who lore at all, so I leave it to the Whooligans of io9 to make their guesses in the comments, even though I will never call you Whovians because Whooligans is so so much better.


Jodie Whittaker’s final two Doctor Who specials will air in the spring and fall of 2022.

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