The BBC has begun laying out its holiday programming and in the process gave brief updates on several projects. First up, the “Doctor Who” Christmas special which sees Matt Smith’s final appearance in the role.
Keeping in line with last season’s finale (The Name of the Doctor), the 50th anniversary special (The Day of the Doctor) and that special’s prequel mini-episode (The Night of the Doctor), the Christmas special will go by the title “The Time of the Doctor”.
Set to air December 25th, Orla Brady (“Fringe”) guest stars while Peter Capaldi will make his first full appearance. A brief synopsis is also out:
“Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars… Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.”
The news comes as the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” broke records in the United States. The BBC America afternoon broadcast scored an average audience of 2.4 million, with a peak time repeat upping the total to 3.6 million. The special also broke the Guinness World Record for the “largest ever simulcast of a TV drama”.
More than half a million cinema tickets were sold for the 1,500 theatrical screenings across the globe at which fans were able to watch the episode in 3D. In the U.S., events sold out in eleven different cities and the film managed a $13,607 per screen average on Saturday – beating that of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” with $12,300.
Showrunner Steven Moffat has also spoken about the ’12 regenerations only’ rule to Radio Times and revealed something of a surprise – the rule will be dealt with in the Christmas special.
Moffat told the outlet that Matt is actually the thirteenth and final doctor – John Hurt is officially now a doctor, and David Tennant used up an extra regeneration in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End two-parter. The result is this will really be a ‘death’ as such: “The 12 regenerations limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology – science fiction is all about rules, you can’t just casually break them. So if the Doctor can never change again, what’s Peter Capaldi doing in the Christmas special?”
Switching over to Steven Moffat’s other series,” “Sherlock” is confirmed to be back in the U.K. over the holiday and will certainly air well before the January 19th U.S. premiere date.
The BBC still hasn’t announced a specific date as yet for the third series, but we will find out next week. The specific dates of the episodes are set to be unveiled on December 4th when the BBC announces its exact schedule.