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Revolution of the Daleks was the 2021 New Year Special of Doctor Who. It featured the return of Jack Harkness, and marked the Thirteenth Doctor's reunion with her companions following the events of TV: The Timeless Children. The episode also saw the departure of Bradley Walsh as Graham O'Brien and Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair.

Continuing the Reconnaissance Dalek storyline that began in TV: Resolution, a new line of Daleks were introduced, cloned from a remnant of the original recon scout. It also saw the return of bronze Daleks, last seen on television in 2017's Twice Upon a Time, leading to a battle between both factions.


As the Thirteenth Doctor marks her days in prison, back on Earth the Daleks are presented on national television. They are the new Defence Drones, designed to protect the British public.

Left behind on Earth, Yaz, Graham and Ryan need their friend more than ever. Now with Daleks on the assembly line, and a familiar face behind their production... What would the Doctor do?


367 minutes after the Doctor melted the casing of the Reconnaissance Dalek, a lorry driver takes its empty casing from GCHQ to Depositary 23, stopping off at a kiosk for a cup of tea. Walking back to his vehicle, he starts to breathe heavily, drops his cup, and collapses. The woman who served him drags him inside the lorry with the casing and drives it away.

Jo Patterson, the Technology Secretary of the United Kingdom, drives to a breakfast meeting with Leo Rugazzi and Jack Robertson to see Leo's new Defence Drones. They oversee a fake riot organised by Robertson, where a Defence Drone, taking the shape of a Dalek, effectively disperses the rioters with its water cannon and loud noise. Afterwards, Leo shows the pair how the drones are controlled by AI and are solar powered. Robertson and Patterson talk in private, and Patterson warns him not to tell anyone that she tipped him off about advanced technology being transported from GCHQ. Robertson tells her that the drones will take around a year to develop, in time to help her win the upcoming general election.

In a maximum security facility located inside an asteroid 79 billion light years away, the Thirteenth Doctor wakes up. She scratches a mark on her cell wall, matching numerous other marks covering the two walls. It is clear she has been here for years. A monitor flashes on her wall instructing her to exercise. She does so. Later, she is escorted to an exercise facility, saying hello to the cameras and her fellow inmates as she passes. Back in her cell, a monitor flashes again, instructing her to sleep. She begins to tell herself a bedtime story but is interrupted by knocking from the other side of a wall. Recognising the four knocks, she wonders if she knows the individual.

Back on Earth, Ryan Sinclair and Graham O'Brien walk towards the TARDIS disguised as a house. They go to knock on the door, but it opens for them. Inside the TARDIS control room they find Yasmin Khan surrounded by coloured paper and post it notes covered in writing stuck to almost every surface. She has been sleeping inside the TARDIS and is desperately trying to find the Doctor. Ryan and Graham tell her that she needs to move on because the Doctor has been away for ten months, but she refuses to listen. Graham shows her footage of a prototype Defence Drone leaked from the fake riot Robertson organised. They recognise it as a Dalek and see Robertson overseeing the riot. They believe that he is in league with the Dalek and she agrees to help them investigate because it was what the Doctor would do.

Patterson — now running for the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom — summons Robertson to a rainy forest. She tells him that she wants an immediate national roll-out of his drones and with him to pay rather than have her government tax the British people. He nervously laughs, telling her that they had only just started regional beta testing and that it was starting to sound like a "shakedown". She blackmails him by threatening to alert the treasury about how much tax his companies pay in the UK. He agrees to her proposal.

That night, as Robertson gets out of his car, telling Leo that he has arrived, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham approach him. He recognises them from the encounter he had with giant spiders. They confront him about the Defence Drone, believing it to be a Dalek, but he has no idea what they are talking about. Suddenly, people with guns surround them and Robertson tells them that he increased his security because of them, before walking away. After getting free from Jack's bodyguards, they discuss how hard it is to "see what's going on" without the Doctor, psychic paper, or a TARDIS.

At the prison, the Doctor wakes up, scratches another mark on her cell wall, says hello to the cameras and proceeds to the exercise facility again. However, this time she finds Jack Harkness, also imprisoned there, in the fenced square next to her. Jack reveals he has been waiting nineteen years for the cell rotation to finally place him next to the Doctor. He then shows her a temporal-freezing gateway disinhibitor bubble which he activates to freeze time and walk through walls. He joins the Doctor and tells her to run. Against the clock, they arrive at Jack's cell where he opens a little trap containing a vortex manipulator he smuggled. They hug, then activate it to break out the prison just as the alarms sound.

Back on Earth, Patterson has been elected party leader, and therefore Prime Minister. Leo talks to Robertson about the drones; he is worried about the speed of the production, but Robertson reassures him, telling him to "live in the worry". Leo then talks to Robertson about the model casing, he explains that when examining it, he found organic remnants in the machine and cloned them, growing a Dalek mutant, finding it beautiful and intelligent. Robertson, horrified by this discovery, demands that Leo incinerate the creature, and tortures Leo to keep it under wraps before leaving, angrily saying that "this is why people don't like experts". Leo takes the box containing the Dalek mutant to the incinerator, but when he opens it, the creature inside grabs him and possesses him. He makes a final phone call to say goodbye to his family before the Dalek completely takes control.

The Doctor and Jack teleport into her TARDIS, where all the lights have been dimmed. Jack asks if she had listened to his message, and she says that she had to give Ashad what he wanted, but fixed it, "sort of". She also tells him that she was imprisoned for evading the Judoon twice and "7000 other offences". The Doctor then uses the TARDIS to find the others, on Earth.

As Yaz, Ryan and Graham talk about the Dalek they saw on the news, Graham tells the other two that it is impossible that it is the same one they fought at GCHQ, as that one was thrown in a supernova. Ryan suggests that the Daleks may have come to Earth and forced Robertson to work with them. Yaz then tells them to shut up, wanting to listen. The TARDIS then materialises in the living room, and the Doctor and Jack come out. After a brief discussion between Team TARDIS, where the Doctor reveals she thinks she is only two weeks late, Jack asks "What's new on planet Earth?" The trio answers "Dalek", which horrifies the Doctor and Jack.

Meanwhile, in Osaka, Japan, the Dalek-controlled Leo enters a building where the Dalek reveals what he was doing when he was in the box, connected to the network: building a Dalek clone farm.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor scans for Dalek DNA traces, and Jack explains to Team TARDIS that he is immortal. The wall screen beeps, revealing a DNA trace has been found in Osaka, but not an exact match. Jack and Yaz volunteer to investigate, whilst Graham, Ryan, and the Doctor go talk to Robertson. The Doctor materialises the TARDIS in Robertson's office, and she asks him about the Daleks, having blocked his phone lines so he cannot call security. Exasperated, Robertson decides to show them the "production line", where he is 3D printing "security drones", which are all modelled on the Recon Dalek from GCHQ. They fill the whole room, and he shows them how there is nothing inside the drones, and that the machines are run by artificial intelligence. Graham asks about his facility in Osaka, and Robertson replies that he does not have one.

In Osaka, Yaz tells Jack how it was hard for her in the ten months that the Doctor had been away, almost wishing that she had never met her if it had to stop so abruptly. Jack tells her that the Doctor had abandoned him, but that they should "remember the journey while [they were] on it", because "the joy is worth the pain". They explore the building with torches and realise that they are inside a Dalek clone farm.

Meanwhile, Jo Patterson makes an address outside 10 Downing Street, promising that she will make Britain "more secure", so that they can enter an "age of security", and introduces the new "Defence Drones" whilst four of them surround her. She declares they will be placed on streets, as well as at borders and national landmarks.

In the Dalek clone farm, Yaz asks Jack to help her take a sample of a liquid inside the tubes feeding the new Daleks, in the hope that they may find a way to stop them. Jack sets bombs on the walkways and railings, but the creatures surrounding them start to climb out of their buckets. One of them falls onto his face, and another latches on to Yaz as she tries to help him. Yaz manages to rip the mutant from Jack, who proceeds to shoot the two mutants with his blaster, vaporising them.

The TARDIS flies through the time vortex, four minutes away from Osaka. Ryan is sitting on the stairs, putting on his beanie. The Doctor approaches him, remembering the yellow one he was wearing when they met, and apologises for being away for ten months. Ryan says that although he did miss her, he had time to reconnect to his family and friends. He asks about Gallifrey, and stops the Doctor trying to change the subject. The Doctor tells him how her entire life story has been changed, and how she does not know who she is anymore, or how much of her life she does not know. Ryan tells her that, although they are both different to how they were when they met, it is a good thing that they are, and after they have finished with the Daleks, she needs to find out about herself. The Doctor promises that she will.

The TARDIS materialises in the Dalek clone farm, causing Jack to exclaim how much he missed its sound. The Doctor, Robertson, Ryan, and Graham exit the TARDIS. The Doctor asks who built the farm, noting to the Dalek attached to Leo that Dalek consciousness could live within the tiniest fragment of its DNA, and that she came to save him. When she asks how it made the farm, it explains how it used Robertson's companies to pay for it, liquidising the workers once they had finished and feeding them to the new Daleks. The Dalek explains that its species will not leave Earth, wanting to convert the planet into a base from which to conquer Earth's sector of the universe. The Doctor remarks about the fact that Robertson’s casings are not weaponised, but it responds that it modified the designs. The Doctor panics and wants to turn off the gradually changing light; Jack asks why, and she says it is ultraviolet light, the same light that the original Recon Dalek used to reconstitute itself. As she does, the clone orders its new Daleks to activate, teleporting themselves into the Defence Drones, controlling them and beginning to exterminate humanity.

Jo Patterson makes an emergency address outside 10 Downing Street assuring everyone that the drones are under control and are being shut down. Four Daleks then advance on her - as she refuses to surrender, they promptly exterminate her and declare Earth to be the property of the Daleks, adding that "all humanity will be exterminated".

In Osaka, the Doctor questions Robertson on how many drones he built, and he answers that he built thousands. Leo is killed by the Dalek controlling him, and the Doctor rushes everyone back into the TARDIS. She tells them that she has only one option — the nuclear option. Jack tries to stop her, but none of them have any better ideas, so she sends the Recon Scout's signal through the Time Vortex to the Death Squad Daleks, knowing they will want to enforce the purity of the Dalek race. The signal is received by the ship and the Daleks prepare to attack Earth. The Doctor that she has done this anonymously as she and the Daleks have "got previous".

Pedestrians scream and run through the streets as the flying Defence Drones slaughter them all. The Death Squad Daleks have detected mutated DNA and prepare for maximum extermination. The TARDIS lands on the Clifton Suspension Bridge as the Death Squad Daleks and Defence Drones square off. The Death Squad refuses to accept the drones as true Daleks and exterminates them, but Robertson wants to join forces with them, so the Doctor leaves him there as TARDIS dematerialises. Robertson claims to the Daleks that he is the leader of humanity and can help them take over the planet. Although the Daleks are sceptical that he would betray his species, he promises to give some secrets to their leader.

In the TARDIS, the Doctor explains step two of the plan. Once all the Defence Drones are destroyed, Jack will blow up the Death Squad ship. Graham and Ryan choose to come with him, and Jack teleports them on board. As they split up to spread the bombs, Jack overhears Robertson talking to the Dalek leader about the Doctor's involvement. As he does, the final Defence Drone teleports on board, and despite its attempts to explain itself, it is exterminated and Robertson leaves. Jack meets up with Graham and Ryan and explains to the Doctor about Robertson. She enforces a backup plan with Yaz to deal with the final "SAS Daleks" on Earth.

With a timer set to blow up the ship, Robertson meets up with Jack, Graham, and Ryan and they deliberate over whether to save his life as the Daleks round on them. In the air above Earth, the Daleks detect the TARDIS and the Doctor thanks them for running to her. Summoning them in, they all fly inside. Meanwhile, Jack teleports his group off the Dalek ship seconds before they are exterminated, and the ship is destroyed. On Earth, the remaining Daleks find themselves inside the house TARDIS instead of the Doctor's, with a hologram of her explaining she used its chameleon circuit to disguise it as hers then programmed it to fold in on itself then be sent into the Void. She teases them as the TARDIS is destroyed, taking the Daleks with it. Everyone reconvenes on the Doctor's TARDIS, with the Doctor saying that Robertson has a lot of explaining to do.

In Graham's house, Graham and Ryan watch Robertson speaking to Emily Maitlis on Newsnight, with her explaining he may be given an honorary knighthood and revived presidential run. Turning the TV off, they head into the TARDIS parked outside, where Jack is phoning the Doctor, saying he wants to catch up with Gwen Cooper. As the Doctor hangs up, they prepare to leave for the Meringue Galaxy restaurant, but Ryan chooses to stay behind. He explains how his friends need him, and so does his planet, now knowing what he wants to do with his life. They hug as Yaz confirms she wants to stay. Finally, they turn to Graham. Although he was willing to continue, he now admits he does not want to miss out on his grandson growing up, and Ryan jokingly bemoans not having the house to himself. The four have one final group hug as the Doctor bids farewell to her "fam". Before they leave, she gifts them a piece of psychic paper each, and Graham parts ways by reiterating "we do get aliens in Sheffield". Although the Doctor considers going back and changing the timeline, Yaz says it is okay for her to be sad.

Graham and Ryan find themselves back on the hill outside Sheffield, with Ryan practicing cycling just as he did on the day they met the Doctor. He makes some progress, and the two discuss looking up strange occurrences around the world — a troll invasion in Finland and gravel creatures in a quarry in Korea. Knowing they can do whatever they want with their psychic paper, they begin to make plans, but only after they finish the cycling. Ryan explains he will not be scared off by a bike, and as they prepare to try again, they both see a vision of Grace O'Brien smiling at them. Graham promises "a few more tries and we'll go and save the world" as they keep practicing.



General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects




Popular culture[]




  • The prison where the Doctor is being held is seventy-nine-billion light-years away from Earth.
  • Ryan reads a story online about a village in Finland that is supposedly dealing with a troll invasion.
  • Graham mentions having heard a story about a quarry in Korea that has been shut down due to reports of "gravel creatures coming to life".


  • The Doctor is given a food cube to eat every morning in prison.

Story notes[]

  • This was the first episode of Doctor Who to be simultaneously broadcast in 4K UHD with HDR colour grading, and the second episode ever made available in this format, since the BBC doesn't broadcast in 4K UHD on its television channels, it was instead made available on BBC iPlayer, with a red button prompt appearing during its BBC One broadcast. Twice Upon a Time remains the first episode to be released in 4K UHD, as it was remastered in the format after broadcast for its re-release on UHD Blu-ray.
  • This was the first televised story of the parent Doctor Who series to be originally released to a streaming service, making its debut on BBC iPlayer around 10 minutes before its BBC One broadcast, rather than shortly afterwards or live and concurrently, as is the norm. However, Series 1 of Class had previously debuted on the same service.
  • The opening title card ("A LONG TIME AGO... FAR, FAR AWAY...") is a reference to the famous Star Wars opening title, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...".
  • The "Defence Drones" have voices similar to those used by the Imperial Daleks in TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, the last televised instance of a Dalek Civil War.
  • Chris Noth (Jack Robertson) is credited as "Robertson" on BBC iPlayer, and erroneously as "Alan Robertson" in Radio Times. Nathan Armarkwei-Laryea (Armen), Helen Anderson (Rachel), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek Operator 1), Nicholas Pegg (Dalek Operator 2) and Sharon D Clarke (Grace) are credited on-screen but not in Radio Times or on BBC iPlayer.
  • Unlike previous New Year Specials The End of Time Part Two and Resolution, the end credits specified the episode was broadcast in 2021 hence MMXXI.
  • This story saw the first time since Journey's End that John Barrowman was credited in the opening title sequence.


  • 4.69 million (UK overnight)[1]
  • 6.25 million (UK final)[2]

Filming locations[]

to be added


  • Davros would return. This was proven false.
  • The prison the Doctor was in would be revealed to be Shada. This is unknown as this was neither confirmed nor denied in the episode.
  • Graham or Ryan would die at the end of the episode. This theory was incorrect as they would both leave the TARDIS alive at the end of the episode and given an open ending.
  • David Tennant would make a cameo as the Tenth Doctor. This was proven false.
  • The Special Weapons Dalek was to return. This was proven false.
  • This story would be a two-parter. This was proven false.
  • This story would continue the war between the Renegade Daleks and the Imperial Daleks. Although not entirely true, it does contain a similar plot element.
  • The Doctor would not be broken out of the prison until the halfway point of the episode. This was proven false.

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When the Dalek gives the order for Jo Patterson to be exterminated, it is slightly to the left of the picture but in the next shot, it has now moved to the right.


Home video releases[]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[]

This story was released on Region 2 DVD and Region B Blu-ray on 25 January 2021, and on Region 1 DVD and Region A Blu-ray on 2 March 2021.

Digital releases[]

This story was made available to purchase on digital platforms, including Amazon Video and Google Play, on 2 January 2021.

It was made available for a time on AMC+, a premium streaming service.

External links[]