When Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi returns for the 2017 Christmas Special as the 12th Doctor, he’ll have one last go before regenerating into Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. But before he does, he’ll have an adventure alongside the 1st Doctor and his former companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). The recently-released synopsis for the special and new official photo could hint at one of the wildest Christmas Specials yet.

Somewhere in the Arctic — probably near the North Pole considering it’s set on Christmas — the dying 12th Doctor encounters the 1st and the two refuse to face regeneration. Somewhere along the way, Bill Potts returns to say goodbye to her Doctor.

The official synopsis confirms a new phenomenon in Doctor Who: “Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time.” In a previous trailer, the 12th Doctor said, “We’re trapped inside a single moment.” Things are bound to get pretty crazy, but here are 6 theories that could make it even crazier:


Heather and Bill are now seemingly permanently united.
Heather and Bill are now seemingly permanently united.

6. Heather Returns Alongside Bill

In the Season 10 finale, Bill faced death after being permanently transformed into a Cyberman, but just when all seemed lost, Heather returned and transformed her into a time-and-space-traveling-oil-god just like her. They left the Doctor for dead and went on their own journey together.

Back at the beginning of Season 10, when the “Pilot” version of Heather was born, the Doctor said that joining with Heather would make Bill “part of her” and that she “could never come back.” The transformation was permanent, and though the nature of their existence is still largely a mystery, it would stand to reason that wherever Bill goes, Heather will also be along for the ride. Unless… Unless…

5. The Christmas Special Bill is From a Different Time

In a scene from early on in the penultimate episode of Season 10, “World Enough and Time,” Bill and the Doctor chat about Missy. Sitting on a bench enjoying a meal, she’s wearing the exact same outfit she is in the latest image from the Christmas Special. Granted, characters recycle outfits on Doctor Who all the time, but this could mean that the Bill appearing in the Special isn’t super-Bill at all. It could be Bill from a previous time period altogether.

This one’s a long shot, considering Bill knows the Doctor in the Christmas Special trailer, saying, “Is he here? Is the Doctor here?” But hey, this is Doctor Who, so who knows? If you really want to stretch your theories then maybe the burger and lightning patches on her jacket reference another TARDIS we haven’t seen in awhile.

Clara in the diner portion of her TARDIS.
Clara in the diner portion of her TARDIS.

4. Clara Returns With Her TARDIS

If there’s one thing incredibly high on everyone’s wish list for the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special, it’s that Jenna Coleman might reprise her role as Clara Oswald if only for a brief cameo before the 12th Doctor’s death. Towards the end of Season 9, the Doctor removed Clara from the moment before her death, and after the Doctor lost all memory of her, she made off in her own TARDIS with Lady Me (Maisie Williams), taking “the long way ‘round.”

When the 10th and 11th Doctors faced their deaths, they were able to reunite with their most important companions one last time. In the case of the latter, Matt Smith’s 11th saw a vision of Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). Considering the 12th Doctor spent two whole seasons with Clara, it would be a shame for them to not reunite one last time.

Clara and Lady Me flew away in their own TARDIS at the end of Season 9.
Clara and Lady Me flew away in their own TARDIS at the end of Season 9.

3. Lady Me Also Returns

Similar to how a Bill appearance almost necessitates Heather also returning, Lady Me would probably be along for the ride should Clara reappear. The last we saw of them, they flew off together for their own journey through time and space. These days, Maisie Williams is no doubt busy filming the final season of Game of Thrones, but that doesn’t rule out a brief appearance.

The actress did confirm she wouldn’t be back for Season 10 — but Season 10 is already over.

Right now, Mark Gatiss is known only as "The Captain."
Right now, Mark Gatiss is known only as "The Captain."

2. “The Captain” Invents the Police Box

Mark Gatiss cryptically told Variety at San Diego Comic Con that his character — cryptically called “The Captain” — has a “resonant echo in the whole Doctor Who story.” It makes sense, considering he’ll journey alongside the first and latest Doctor, but what if he means something so much more?

In the trailer for the Special, his character says, “These Police Boxes, they’re ever so good, aren’t they?” One fan theory on Tumblr posits that he could actually be Gilbert Mackenzie-Trench, the man that invented the blue police box in real life. This would make for an awesome bootstrap paradox of sorts for the end of an era.

Patrick Troughton as the 2nd Doctor.
Patrick Troughton as the 2nd Doctor.

1. We’ll See a Different Version of the 2nd Doctor

One particular line from the synopsis implies that we just might see the 1st Doctor regenerate: “Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration.” We know almost for certain that we’ll see 12 become 13 before the Special is over, but could this mean we’ll also see a new version of the 2nd Doctor?

William Hartnell originally played the 1st Doctor, but David Bradley assumes the role for the Christmas Special. Could we also see a different actor replace Patrick Troughton as the newly-regenerated 2nd Doctor? Though unlikely, if we saw four Doctors in one episode, it would make for one of the coolest Christmas Specials ever. We’re far more likely to see a fakeout of sorts akin to when John Hurt’s War Doctor regenerated into the 9th Doctor in “The Day of the Doctor.”


The 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special will air on BBC December 25, 2017.