David Tennant (centre) during filming of Doctor Who in Bristol. Picture date: Wednesday June 15, 202...

Timey Wimey

Doctor Who leaks reveal 2 old-school traditions are returning

In 2023 and 2024, Who is headed back in time, literally.

Ben Birchall - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Everything old is new again. In the world of Doctor Who, the future of the time-traveling franchise seems to be reaching back to incorporate popular elements of its recent past. With one confirmation about 2024, and some leaked concept art about a new TARDIS, here’s how the new Who will probably remind some fans of the old Who. Possible spoilers ahead.

After Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor regenerated into David Tennant, Doctor Who officially started turning back the clock. Although Tennant isn’t technically playing the 10th Doctor again — as he did from 2005 to 2010 — the fact that he’s back to essentially relaunch the franchise is interesting. As most fans are probably already aware, the new era of Who will be helmed by Russell T. Davies, who was the showrunner of the series back in the Tennant era when the series was relaunched in the first place.

Tennant’s return as the Doctor isn’t permanent, of course. After three specials in 2023, Tennant will be replaced by new incumbent Doctor Ncuti Gatwa for Season 14 in 2024. And between the end of 2023 and the end of 2024, we now know two things will be true about Doctor Who; we’re getting a new TARDIS interior that looks very old school, and, a certain holiday tradition will return.

New TARDIS interior leaks

What’s on the inside?MediaNews Group/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images

On December 7, 2022, one Doctor Who fan account on Twitter posted what appeared to be genuine on-set photos of the construction of a new TARDIS interior. It’s not clear if this TARDIS will appear in the David Tennant specials in 2023 or Ncuti Gatwa’s Season 14 in 2024. But, the design of this TARDIS will incorporate a center console that looks very much like the 1st Doctor’s TARDIS, while the overall design is huge, recalling the much larger TARDIS interior of the 8th Doctor in 1996. There also appears to be an old-timey jukebox in this TARDIS.

That said, the leaked images have now been removed, apparently on a copyright claim. So, this seems to mean the leaks were genuine, but as of now, these images aren’t out in the world.

Doctor Who Christmas special returning

The 2014 Doctor Who special “Last Christmas.” BBC

Starting in 2005, with “The Christmas Invasion,” the Russell T Davies era of Who started releasing Christmas Specials every year. When Steven Moffat took over in 2010, he did the same thing. During the Chris Chibnall era, these specials moved to New Year’s Day. Historically, some of the Doctor Who Christmas specials have been self-contained — like “The Next Doctor,” or “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” — but others have played into the larger mythology of the show, like “The End of Time,” or “The Husbands of River Song.”

Recently, Davies has revealed that in 2024 — not 2023 — the Doctor Who Christmas Specials will return. “For the first time ever, I'm writing a [Doctor Who] Christmas Special... at Christmas!” he said, according to Digital Spy. “And this isn't for next year, no, the 2023 script has been long since signed off. The new one is for the end-of-year 2024!”

Davies has also made it clear that starting with the 2024 season, there will be “no gaps” and less waiting in between Doctor Who installments.

“It takes a while to get the empire in shape, but that's a serious plan: annual Doctor Who, no gap years, lots of content, on and on.”

The next Doctor Who special, starring David Tennant as the Doctor hits Disney+ in fall of 2023.

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