Series 12 of Doctor Who premiered on Wednesday 1 January 2020. Chris Chibnall remained in the position of executive producer whilst Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh reprised their roles as the Thirteenth Doctor, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan and Graham O'Brien respectively. The series opened with Spyfall and concluded with The Timeless Children, with an additional New Year's Special, Revolution of the Daleks, airing in 2021.
Whittaker announced her own return on Friday 7 December 2018, two days prior to the broadcast of the series 11 finale, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos. The series was announced almost immediately after the conclusion of said episode.
It continued an ongoing storyline, only briefly mentioned previous series, of "the Timeless Child".
Series 12 consisted of 9 stories shown over 11 episodes, bring back two-parters, a format that had not occurred the previous season. Spyfall, the opening story of the series, was the first time since 2010's The End of Time that a two-parter didn't receive individual titles. The series had a heavy environmental theme, mirroring current global concerns.
The series continued the "Timeless Child" story arc, and delved into an unknown past of the Doctor, the Time Lords and Gallifrey. This was done via a more "traditional" series arc, as was prominent in the Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat eras.
Series 12 delved deeper into the companions' lives and ultimately resulted in the departure of Ryan Sinclair and Graham O'Brien in the New Years special. The series also saw the temporary return of Captain Jack Harkness.
As was done between series 8 and series 9, this series also saw some changes to the TARDIS compared to the previous series, in the form of a new crystalline column hanging from the ceiling just above the crystalline time rotor, a set a hexagon-filled gold stairs to an upper level that leads to the rest of the ship and new screens and systems and wall changes to make it look even bigger.
The "cold openings" returned for some of the episodes this series, having been notably absent in the previous series.
Series 12 welcomed back the Master to the show in a new male incarnation played by Sacha Dhawan and disguised as an MI6 spy known as "O". The Master was last seen in series 10's The Doctor Falls with both their Harold Saxon incarnation played by John Simm and Missy incarnation played by Michelle Gomez. The series finale, The Timeless Children, used an anagram for Dhawan on the Doctor Who website; "Barack Stemis" which, if re-arranged, means "Master is Back" and playing a false character called "Fakout". This tactic, discounting in-universe examples from 2007's Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords, had not been seen since The King's Demons in 1983, when an alias was used to hide the presense of Anthony Ainley.
Series 12 re-introduced the Judoon, giving them a central role in a television story for the first time since the series 6 mid-series finale A Good Man Goes to War in 2011. The Nanogenes, last seen in the 2012 story Asylum of the Daleks, also made an appearance this series.
The Cybermen also made their way back onto the small screen this series, in their first TV appearance since the 2017 story The Doctor Falls (discounting archival footage in Twice Upon a Time), first in the form of Ashad, followed by a whole army of them, consisting of the Cybus/Mondasian cross-breed as Cyberguards and a new variant called Cyber-Warriors. They also utilised a new weaponry called Cyberdrones, which were flying Cyber-helmets.
The Time Lords returned for the first time since the 2015 series 9 finale Hell Bent. Although they mainly appeared only through a vision scene in the Matrix, a sole Time Lady was also seen working with the Judoon in Fugitive of the Judoon. The finale also gives mention to the Shobogans, first mentioned in 1976's The Deadly Assassin.
The Daleks also made their way back, both in their bronze design and in the "scrapyard" design from Resolution, albeit with a new black Dalek casing. But like Series 11, they did not feature in the main series, instead popping up in the following special.
- The Doctor - Jodie Whittaker
- Graham O'Brien - Bradley Walsh
- Ryan Sinclair - Tosin Cole
- Yasmin Khan - Mandip Gill
- Sonya Khan - Bhavnisha Parmar
- Najia Khan - Shobna Gulati
- Hakim Khan - Ravin J Ganatra
- Sgt. Ramesh Sunder - Asif Khan
- Tibo - Buom Tihngang
- Gabriel - Everal A Walsh
- "O"/The Master - Sacha Dhawan
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Jack Robertson - Chris Noth
- Grace O'Brien - Sharon D Clarke
- C - Stephen Fry
- Daniel Barton - Sir Lenny Henry
- Seesay - Darron Meyer
- Browning - Dominique Maher
- Passenger - Sacharissa Claxton
- Voice of the Kasaavin - Struan Rodger
- Mr. Collins - Andrew Bone
- Ethan - Christopher McArthur
- Sniper - Melissa De Vries
- Older Passenger - William Ely
- US operative - Brian Law
- Rendition Man - Ronan Summers
- Noor Inayat Khan - Aurora Marion
- Charles Babbage - Mark Dexter
- Ada Lovelace - Sylvie Briggs
- Mrs. Barton - Blanche Williams
- Perkins - Kenneth Jay
- Airport Worker - Tom Ashley
- Nevi - James Buckley
- Vorm - Will Austin
- Lead Dreg - Spencer Wilding
- Bella - Gia Ré
- Vilma - Julia Foster
- Hyph3n - Amy Booth-Steel
- Benni - Col Farrell
- Sylas - Lewin Lloyd
- Kane - Laura Fraser
- Queen Skithra - Anjli Mohindra
- Thomas Edison - Robert Glenister
- Nikola Tesla - Goran Višnjić
- Dorothy Skerrit - Haley McGee
- Bill Tallow - Robin Guiver
- Mr. Brady/Shadowman - Russell Bentley
- Harold Green - Paul Kasey
- Mr. Sorensson - Erick Hayden
- Mr. Martin - Brian Caspe
- Foreman - Shaun Mason
- Marcia - Judith Street
- Voice of Judoon Captain - Nicholas Briggs
- Judoon Captain Pol-Kon-Don - Paul Kasey
- Judoon - Simon Carew, Richard Highgate, Richard Price, Matthew Rohman
- Lee Clayton - Neil Stuke
- Ruth Clayton/The Doctor - Jo Martin
- Gat - Ritu Arya
- Tourist - Katie Luckins
- "All Ears" Allan - Michael Begley
- Jake Willis - Warren Brown
- Adam Lang - Matthew McNulty
- Gabriela Camara - Joana Borja
- Suki Cheng - Molly Harris
- Jamila Velez - Gabriela Toloi
- Joyce - Soo Drouet
- Zach Olson - Tristan de Beer
- Aramu - Thapelo Maropefela
- Zellin - Ian Gelder
- Rakaya - Clare-Hope Ashitey
- Tahira - Aruhan Galieva
- Maryam - Sirine Saba
- Anita Patel - Nasreen Hussain
- Mum - Amanda Liberman
- Fred - Michael Keane
- Andrew - Anthony Taylor
- Old Tibo - Willie Jonah
- Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin - Lili Miller
- Lord Byron - Jacob Collins Levy
- Claire Clairmont - Nadia Parkes
- Percy Bysshe Shelley - Lewis Rainer
- Dr. John Polidori - Maxim Baldry
- Elise - Sarah Perles
- Fletcher - Stefan Bednarczyk
- Lone Cyberman/Ashad - Patrick O'Kane
- Sergeant - Caolán Byrne
- Ravio - Julie Graham
- Ko Sharmus - Ian McElhinney
- Feekat - Steve Toussaint
- Patrick - Branwell Donaghey
- Meg - Orla O'Rourke
- Fuskle - Jack Osborn
- Michael - Andrew Macklin
- Ethan - Matt Carver
- Brendan - Evan McCabe
- Bescot - Rhiannon Clements
- Yedlarmi - Alex Austin
- Voice of Cybermen - Nicholas Briggs
- Cybermen - Matthew Rohman, Simon Carew, Jon Davey, Richard Highgate, Richard Price, Mick Lewis, Matthew Doman, Paul Bailey
- Tecteun - Seylan Baxter
- Solpado - Kirsty Besterman
- Jo Patterson - Harriet Walter
- Leo Rugazzi - Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
- Armen - Nathan Armarkwei-Laryea
- Rachel - Helen Anderson
- Voice of the Daleks - Nicholas Briggs
- Dalek Operator 1 - Barnaby Edwards
- Dalek Operator 2 - Nicholas Pegg
It was originally reported that pre-production on series 12 had begun in November 2018, with Ray Holman having updated his CV to say so. Furthermore it was said that filming would begin in January 2019.
In an interview with Radio Times the cast and showrunner spoke about feeling "less pressure" heading into the second series, with Tosin stating: "Last year was new showrunner, new Doctor, new companions, new time of the show, so everything was just brand new – now that we’ve done that, everyone survived, everyone’s OK, the fans have loved it." Mandip added that "there was a bit of uproar or whatever while we were doing it, but [the fans] proved that they do change with the Doctor – and they stay". Chibnall followed up by saying: "There was more pressure last year, launching Jodie, launching a whole new family of companions, a new look, a new composer – it was a whole new team last year."
Producer Nikki Wilson noted that the crystal "fingers" in the TARDIS looked pink on camera; a colourist colour-corrected every TARDIS scene for series 11. For series 12, the LEDs in the "fingers" were completely redone to fix this problem.
Producers included Stefan Morris and Alex Mercer.
Headwriter Chris Chibnall wrote four episodes for the series, namely the two-part opener and the two-part finale. He also co-wrote the fifth, sixth and seventh episodes.
Series 11 writers Ed Hime, Vinay Patel, and Pete McTighe returned to each pen another script for this series. Nina Métivier, who served as script editor on series 11, also wrote a story for this series. New writers included Maxine Alderton and Charlene James.
Sheena Bucktowonsing served as script editor on the series.
Jamie Stone directed Block 1, consisting of episodes 1 and 6, as well as Block 5, consisting of 9 and 10. Lee Haven Jones directed Block 2, consisting of episodes 2 and 3. Nida Manzoor directed Block 3, consisting of episodes 4 and 5. Emma Sullivan directed Block 4, consisting of episodes 7 and 8. Lee Haven Jones also directed the festive special.
Location filming on series 12 began on 23 January 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa, with cast members having arrived in the country shortly beforehand. Filming in South Africa ended on 7 February. While filming in South Africa, Jodie Whittaker was let into contact with a Sac Spider, which are extremely dangerous and venomous. She let it crawl around on her inside her costume, unaware of the danger.
Revolution of the Daleks was also filmed in winter 2019, over a year prior to broadcast, reportedly in order to attach it to series 12 filming, to give the cast a longer break.
On 31 October 2019, the BBC released the first proper promotion of the coming series 12, in the form of a poster showing a shadow of the Thirteenth Doctor cast in the yellow light from the open TARDIS doors in the bottom corner. A faded rainbow appeared across her chest, and the tagline said "Watch this Space".
On 10 November, the BBC released a promo teaser for the new series on the Official Doctor Who YouTube Channel, with the camera zooming fast through a purple vortex to a region of space in which the TARDIS suddenly appears and zooms across, revealing first the tagline "Watch this Space" then the "Doctor Who" logo and the text "Coming Soon". The "Doctor Who" page itself said "Make Space... 23/11/19".
At a Q&A session held at Sheffield Hallam University on 19 November, Chibnall told the audience that the opening story would be "the biggest episode in the show’s history". A BBC One source to The Mirror said that "It’s going to be huge. The scale is just epic. No one will be disappointed." Whittaker added that "I feel like we’re treading new ground for each of the character journeys, and the development of everybody’s storylines."
On 21 November, the "Doctor Who" page posted a new poster, this time showing the entire main cast on a white background at the top and a region of space at the bottom. The poster said "Space. For All." as well as "Coming Soon".
On 22 November, the "Doctor Who" Facebook page posted a "Trailer Preview" video showing the three companions inside the TARDIS, nodding, to which the Doctor pulled a lever on the console. The preview then said "Trailer Premiere Saturday" with the page itself posting the time and the hashtag for Doctor Who Day.
On 2 December, the second official trailer for Series 12 was released. It followed up on what was shown in the first trailer as well as showing new content. It ended with a repeat of "Watch this Space" from the teaser trailer and was followed by the release date, "New Year's Day".
On the same day they re-released the second promo poster but with a slight alteration: instead of "Coming Soon", the text below now read "New Year's Day". The Doctor's companions were also not present in this poster variant.
On 6 December, while promoting Fathom Events, the Doctor Who Facebook page repeated clips from the second trailer for the series. On the same day, a "first look" at Spyfall Part 1 was released. It revealed an "impossible" mission for the Doctor and friends.
On 8 December, a "What To Expect" video was released, with Jodie, Mandip, Tosin, Bradley and Chris Chibnall telling viewers what to expect. The first official trailer was shown along with it. On the same day, a platoon of Judoon invaded Victoria Station to meet visitors, and a big interactive screen was put up, showing the "Watch this Space" teaser transitioning into the TARDIS landing on a surface invaded by Judoon.
On 11 December, a "New to Who?" video was released, offering a quick summary of the character of "The Doctor" and the show's premise to potential new viewers, showing a range of clips from the Thirteenth Doctor's time until now.
On 16 December, a video with the caption "She's Back" was released exclusively on the Doctor Who Facebook page showing an compilation of clips from Series 11 along with some descriptive words of the Doctor in-between and ending with two clips from the new series.
On 24 December, a short video with a few clips from the second trailer and the words "Space For Adventure" was released. Similar videos were released over the next three days, each with a different tagline.
On 8 October 2020, a live-streamed video panel was held at New York Comic-Con, attended by Whittaker, Walsh and Gill. The panel teased the forthcoming winter special Revolution of the Daleks. At the same panel, the question was brought up about how a life sentence for a Time Lord would work, given the series finale conclusion with the Doctor being sentenced to life in a space prison and due to a Time Lord’s life-span, to which Whittaker hinted that there might be answers given in Revolution.
On Doctor Who Day, 23rd November, the official Doctor Who website and YouTube channel released promo posters and a promo preview from Revolution, both showing the return of Captain Jack Harkness. The posters also showed the return of the Daleks. The trailer for the special was released on the 29 November and revealed that it would be released on New Year's Day 2021.
Regular episodes, apart from Spyfall: Part One, continued airing on Sundays, following on from the schedule established with series 11.
BBC America aired all full series and specials of New Who during the week between 24 December and 1 January in preparation for series 12. The network also aired animated "lost episodes" as an extra.
Although now debunked, Starburst Magazine had reportedly been in contact with the BBC back in November 2018, during which time, the BBC said that series 12 would air in Autumn 2019. Starburst also claimed that Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker had not been very happy behind the scenes, and were set to leave after series 12 had finished.
A rumour of Chibnall's departure gained momentum once again in August 2019 when some Gallifrey Base spoiler hounds ambiguously reported that "Chibnall has already gone, it's chaos in Cardiff." This quickly spread to Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. The rumour was later denied as "nonsense" by BBC insiders, who went on to reference similar rumours of the past.
New Year special
|N/A||Revolution of the Daleks||Chris Chibnall||Lee Haven Jones||Return of Jack Robertson and the Time War Daleks. Jack Harkness meets the Thirteenth Doctor. Ryan and Graham leave the TARDIS.|
- The broadcast of Spyfall: Part One as a replacement for the annual Winter Special marks the first time a Special has been ommitted since the tradition began in 2005 with the Christmas Special The Christmas Invasion (Series 2)
- Spyfall: Part One pays homage to two James Bond stories; Casino Royale and Skyfall, respectively.
- Spyfall: Part Two featured the first time the Thirteenth Doctor identified herself as a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey.
- The villain in Orphan 55 was so terrifying that even being on set behind the scenes had cast and crew frightened.
- The Judoon Captain is named Pol-Kon-Don as a tribute to late Doctor Who fan and friend of Chris Chibnall, Paul Condon.
- Although Fugitive of the Judoon was directed by Nida Manzoor, Jack Harkness' scenes were directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.
- Can You Hear Me? featured an animated segment illustrated by Nina Chakrabarti with Emma Sullivan and DNEG.
- The "cold opening" in Ascension of the Cybermen had a smooth transition into the title sequence through the eye of a Cyberman-head.
- The Timeless Children had the theme music play across the Doctor's memory-scene when overloading the Matrix.
- The Timeless Children had the most extensive use of archive footage in any of the Doctor Who episodes or any other media, and indeed any of the spin-offs as of 2021.
- Jodie Whittaker was so devastated to film the last scenes with Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh during Revolution of the Daleks that she broke down and had to be “carried” back to her trailer.
Aliens and enemies
- Daniel Barton
- "O"/The Master
- Deep-Space Squid
- Hopper virus
- Lee Clayton
- "Ruth Clayton"/"The Doctor"
- Gat (Gallifreyan)
- Crows (possessed)
- Enzymes (infected)
- Suki Cheng
- Suki Cheng's crew
- Ghost woman
- Ghost child
- Time Lords
- Jack Robertson
- Defence Drones
- Gathering coil
- Weeping Angel
Adaptations and merchandising
DVD / Blu-ray
In May 2017, it was announced that due to the terms of a deal between BBC Worldwide and SMG Pictures in China, the company has first right of refusal on the purchase for the Chinese market of past and future series and spin-offs, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, of the programme.
to be added
Stories set during this season
- Jodie Whittaker Confirms Return for 'Doctor Who' Season 12 (Exclusive). Hollywood Reporter (7 December 2018). Retrieved on 9 December 2018.
- The Doctor Who Team (9 December 2018). Doctor Who Series 12 Announcement. Doctor Who. Retrieved on 9 December 2018.
- Bone, Christian (12 November 2018). Doctor Who Season 12 Has Already Begun Pre-Production. We Got This Covers. Retrieved on 12 January 2019.
- Harp, Justin (23 January 2019). Doctor Who kicks off series 12 filming with first-look at Jodie Whittaker and cast. Digital Spy. Retrieved on 24 January 2019.
- 24 January 2019 (24 January 2019). Doctor Who series 12 has officially started filming. RadioTimes. Retrieved on 26 January 2019.
- Marc, Christopher (7 January 2019). 'Doctor Who' Series 12 Is Officially Delayed To 2020 But Could Begin Filming Soon In Wales/South Africa. HN Entertainment. Retrieved on 12 January 2019.
- Fullerton, Huw (31 March 2020). Why Doctor Who might escape delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. RadioTimes. Retrieved on 13 May 2020.