This season is the ninth to air following the programme's revival in 2005, and is the thirty-fifth season overall. It saw the return of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. This is the second season starring Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman returned for her third and final season. Clara Oswald’s inclusion in this season marked her as the longest running companion since the show was revived in 2005.
|Captured by the Daleks
This season (including the 2014 and 2015 Christmas specials) contains 10 stories and 14 episodes. Of these 4 stories are two-parters.
The Doctor and Clara are seen having the best time as they continue their travels. As Peter Capaldi commented, ‘They’ve suddenly realised that they are the most fortunate people in all of time and space and are hell-bent on adventure’. As for The Doctor, Peter Capaldi revealed, ‘He’s in pursuit of joy and grabbing every thrill that he can along the way. But I sense him running from something, that even he does not yet understand...’.
As to the overall season Peter Capaldi commented ‘There is an epic sweep to this season and I think the villains and monsters reflect that. Great new ones, brilliant old ones, and some very scary creatures looming in stories with real emotional ambition’.
The main part of this season premiered on the 19th September 2015 with "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar" and concluded on the 5th December 2015 with "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent". In addition the two Christmas specials, "Last Christmas" and "The Husbands of River Song", were broadcast on Christmas Day in 2014 and 2015.
Continuing on from the previous season this season was led by Head Writer and Executive Producer Steven Moffat, alongside Executive Producer Brian Minchin. Paul Frift, Nikki Wilson, Peter Bennett and Derek Ritchie served as producers.
Throughout this season the Twelfth Doctor maintained a new outfit first seen in "Last Christmas" - wearing a dark blue hoodie over a black jumper, along with his jacket, trousers and shoes from the previous season. This season also featured The Doctor wearing t-shirts in place of his shirt, often with a pair of plaid trousers. "Face the Raven" onwards saw The Doctor wearing a red velvet jacket with a white shirt and black trousers, resuming a closer look to that of Season Thirty Four (New Series 8). This season also featured The Doctor replacing his sonic screwdriver with a pair of sonic sunglasses. The last time The Doctor ceased to use the screwdriver was in his fifth incarnation, something which continued up until the final story of the original shows' run in 1989. However, in the final moments of the second part of the two part story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent", a brand new, redesigned sonic screwdriver was created by the TARDIS for the Twelfth Doctor.
Prior to the airing of "Last Christmas" speculation about whether Jenna Coleman would stay on the show prompted her to announce that she would be continuing to appear in this season at a press launch, stating ‘It's wonderful – I've got another series of stories with The Doctor. I couldn't walk away with the story being unresolved and there's so much more to do – I think they've finally just reached a point where they really understand each other!’ Steven Moffat later confirmed this, by saying ‘Jenna is obviously in all of the next series’.
After recording her last scene Jenna Coleman's revealed ‘I have left the TARDIS and I’ve filmed my last scenes. It has been in the works for a very long time, Steven and I sat down a year ago, a year and a half ago and tried to work out the best place to do it and the best place in which to tell a really good story. So hopefully that’s what we’ve done. I think it’s really, really cool. Obviously we’re not going to give away any details but it will happen at some point this season’.
Peter Capaldi then revealed that Clara would be leaving during "Face the Raven", adding that ‘It’s a sad one, gripping and very strange. It’s the end of the line for Clara Oswald played by Jenna Coleman who’s been my companion for the last two years. It’s the end of her story. I don’t want to go into the details of it, but it’s sad. Sometimes people can’t come back. Sometimes things happen that they can’t come back from’. In fact Clara went on to appear as a hallucination, in the first part of the two part story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent", before making her surprise true departure in the second episode of this story in a manner that altered her character's destiny and - contrary to public statements made by Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat before broadcast - left the door open for future appearances or a spin-off.
Playing a major recurring role in this season is Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams as Ashildr, a Viking girl made immortal by The Doctor, which leads to major events resulting of her encounters with The Doctor. Her appearance in this season was announce on the 30th March 2015.
In issue 480 of Doctor Who Magazine, Michelle Gomez confirmed that she would return in this season as Missy (the latest incarnation of The Master who served as the central villain in Season Thirty Four (New Series 8)). On the 19th February 2015 it was announced that Missy would return in "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar", the opening story of this season.
In January 2015 it was announced that actor Paul Kaye had a guest role in the first production block. He played the part of Prentis in "Under the Lake/Before the Flood".
Kelly Hunter was confirmed to be appearing in the opening story, alongside Jaye Griffiths and Clare Higgins. Kelly Hunter had previously appeared as the Shadow Architect for the Shadow Proclamation in "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End", while Clare Higgins appeared in "The Night of The Doctor" as Ohila, High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn.
Julian Bleach reprised his role as Davros, having last appeared in the role in 2008's "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End", while Joey Price debuted as a younger version of the character.
Jemma Redgrave returned in the recurring role of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart. It was also announced, on the 8th May 2015, that Ingrid Oliver would return as Osgood alongside Jemma Redgrave for the two-part story "The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion" despite her apparent death in the final story of the previous season.
On the 10th June 2015, it was announced that Joivan Wade would return as Rigsy, who had previously appeared in "Flatline".
On the 28th September 2015 it was announced that Corey Taylor, frontman for the heavy metal band Slipknot, would feature in the second part of "Under the Lake/Before the Flood", as the scream of the alien warlord Fisher King.
Actor Brian Blessed was originally cast in the role of Odin in "The Girl Who Died". Brian Blessed has already appeared in Doctor Who as King Yrcanos in the 1986 The Trial of a Time Lord story "Mindwarp". Brian Blessed though had to pull out due to illness. The part of Odin was played by David Schofield, who is well known to Merlin fans for playing the part of King Alined in the BBC One fantasy series.
Steven Moffat was directly involved with the writing of six stories, with the sole credit for writing four - the other two he was credited as a co-writer. The other writers who worked on this season were: Toby Whithouse, Jamie Mathieson, Catherine Tregenna, Peter Harness, Mark Gatiss and Sarah Dollard.
On the 16th March 2015 Mark Gatiss confirmed he would be writing a story for this season. This turned out to be "Sleep No More". Stating in an interview with the Telegraph he revealed ‘It has been a tough nut to crack, but I'm delighted with how scary it is’. The story was told in an unusual format, featuring only point of view and base camera footage showing The Doctor and Clara join a rescue team in an attempt to defeat a group of monsters. Executive producer Brian Minchin stated ‘We're considering not even having opening titles and just running the footage’, something that did ultimately occur. Instead this story was given a title sequence in the form of a code.
On the 30th March 2015 it was confirmed that Jamie Mathieson, who previously wrote "Mummy on the Orient Express" and "Flatline", would co-write, along with Steven Moffat, a story called "The Girl Who Died".
On the 8th May 2015 it was announced that Peter Harness, who wrote last season’s "Kill the Moon", would write a two-part story. This was "The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion".
New to Doctor Who was Catherine Tregenna who wrote "The Woman Who Lived". Catherine Tregenna is known for her earlier involvement in the Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood. She is the first female Doctor Who writer since Helen Raynor's two-part story "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky".
Sarah Dollard is also a new writer to Doctor Who. She became the third female writer since 2005 and the second under Steven Moffat, penning "Face the Raven". Her involvement marked the first time more than one woman wrote for the show in the same season.
Toby Whithouse returned to the show, writing "Under the Lake/Before the Flood", described by Executive Producer and showrunner Steven Moffat as ‘a brilliantly creepy two-parter’. He had previously contributed four stories: "School Reunion", "The Vampires of Venice", "The God Complex" and "A Town Called Mercy".
Interestingly as this season coincides with the Tenth Anniversary of the show's revival, the BBC asked former showrunner and head writer, Russell T. Davies to return. Russell T. Davies however, replied with a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’. A BBC source revealed that plans for the revival anniversary were still to be decided, despite Russell T. Davies' reluctance to return. He also believed that the success of the revived show meant that ‘It’s now impossible for it to ever be axed’. However, despite the comments made to the Radio Times, in an interview with BBC Radio 2 a week later Russell T. Davies commented that he would love to write more Doctor Who, specifically a movie.
Directors for this season include ones who had previously worked with Steven Moffat on the show (Paul Wilmshurst, Hettie MacDonald, Ed Bazalgette, Rachel Talalay and Douglas MacKinnon), and two brand new ones (Daniel O'Hara and Justin Molotnikov).
Hettie MacDonald directed the two-part story "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar". This made her the only woman to direct a season opener following the shows return in 2005 and one of only four women to direct a season opener in the show's history, the last being Fiona Cumming in 1982. Hettie MacDonald also directed the prequel mini-story "The Doctor's Meditation". This is her first story since the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Blink".
Murray Gold returned as this season’s score composer. In the second part of the finale story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent", Murray Gold had the rare experience of seeing his leitmotif for Clara Oswald, called Clara (released on the Season 7 Soundtrack), graduate from soundtrack-only to become part of an actual story.
Filming and principal photography for this season began on the 5th January 2015 in Cardiff, with "Under the Lake/Before the Flood" making up the first production block. The read-through for the first block took place on the 17th December 2014.
The second production block consisted of the opening two-part story "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar". Filming for this story took place in Tenerife, Spain in February 2015. It was directed by Hettie MacDonald, who directed the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Blink".
This season set a record for most stories filmed outside the UK, with no less than three stories featuring scenes shot on location in the Canary Islands ("The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar", "The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion" and "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent").
The main part of this season opened with a two-part story - the first time since Season Thirty Two (New series 6) in 2011. Also for the first time since the show’s revival in 2005, half of the episodes are part of multi-part stories; eight of the fourteen episodes are grouped into four two-part stories, with the remaining six episodes being standalones stories.
On the 17th December 2014, at a press conference for the Christmas special "Last Christmas", Steven Moffat revealed the title of the first episode of the regular series to be "The Magician's Apprentice". The title was additionally revealed on-screen, at the end of "Last Christmas". "The Magician's Apprentice" premièred at the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh on the 27th August, as a part of the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival.
On the 30th of March 2015 the BBC revealed the title of two stories; Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat's "The Girl Who Died" and Catherine Tregenna's "The Woman Who Lived". These two stories were revealed to be two linked episodes rather than a conventional two-parter, being set in two time periods, the Viking era and the 17th century, respectively.
The 2015 Christmas special "The Husbands of River Song" sees the reappearance of Professor River Song played by Alex Kingston. This story depicts the last encounter she has with The Doctor before the events of "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".
"The Husbands of River Song" marks River Song's first appearance alongside the Twelfth Doctor. It showed The Doctor turning up on River Song's doorstep with a new haircut and a suit, their night on Darillium to see the Singing Towers, and The Doctor giving River Song his sonic screwdriver, all of which had been mentioned previously by River Song in her debut story.
Excitement for Peter Capaldi’s second season as the Twelfth Doctor began building in earnest on the 9th July 2015 with the release of the first trailer, alongside the confirmation of the airdate of "The Magician's Apprentice". The same day, Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez and Steven Moffat promoted the season at the San Diego Comic-Con International.
The first trailer hinted at many of the things that were to come. A more relaxed, ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ Doctor complete with shades, guitar and along with companion Clara Oswald plunging into big new adventures with an undisguised relish! It would also seem that the two time-travellers’ friendship is now stronger than ever.
On the 12th August 2015 the second trailer for the season was released. A prologue to the season was then released online on the 11th September 2015 with a prequel to the season, entitled "The Doctor's Meditation", released 4 days later on the 15th September 2015 exclusively shown as part of a 3D cinematic release of the previous season’s final two part story "Dark Water/Death in Heaven". "The Doctor's Meditation" was shown as part of a two-night event on the 15th and 16th September as a run-up to prepare for this season. This screening was only shown in Russia, Canada, the United States of America and Denmark.
Before the previous season had begun Steven Moffat promised a cliffhanger for this season and he teased in Doctor Who Magazine Issue 475 ‘I've figured out the cliffhanger to the penultimate episode of series 9. And it's a whopper. Ohh, I don’t think you'll see this coming!’.
This season's main story arc revolves around the mystery of a being called the Hybrid, the combination of two great warrior races. The Hybrid is alluded to with the appearance of many other hybrids such as Osgood and Ashildr, with both being dramatically revealed as being hybrids. The Doctor's investigation into this being ultimately leads him back to his home planet of Gallifrey, which returns fully in the second episode of the two part story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent".
A question that had been brought up in last season’s opening story "Deep Breath" was the reason behind The Doctor's newest face and where he had seen it before. In Doctor Who Magazine Issue 486 Steven Moffat confirmed that the truth would be discovered during this season - an event which occurred in "The Girl Who Died".
Peter Harness revealed that his two-part story "The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion", featuring UNIT and the Zygons, would have the key theme ‘consequences’ and would be a sequel to the Fiftieth Anniversary Special "The Day of The Doctor".
For the first time in the show's history, this season included an episode (the first part of the two part story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent") which featured only one non-cameo speaking part for its entirety. Referring to this episode, Executive Producer Brian Minchin said ‘Doctor Who has always been about taking risks. It's never sat down and done a normal episode. It's always done something extraordinary. Our audience likes to be challenged’.
Peter Capaldi stated that ‘The Doctor has realised that, even at two and a half thousand years of age, life is short. And he's in a great position and he should enjoy it. But, at the same time, there's something stalking him that will make life less pleasant for him’. He also claimed that there would be a monster that would ‘make you think carefully about regeneration’, and that the season would feature a couple of monsters from the original run of the show.
Prior to the commencement of this season Peter Capaldi also revealed that it would not end happily, stating ‘The Doctor and Clara are excited about the idea of having adventures this series, but that’s a dangerous thing to do. They can't have a good time for too long. They have to pay for it. The Doctor has a profound knowledge of the past and future and he knows how things will come off in the end. He is aware darkness will fall’. The BBC later confirmed that the finale would see The Doctor return to his home planet Gallifrey, and face his own race, the Time Lords, having been pushed ‘to the brink of madness’ in the first part of the two part story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent".
During the build-up to this season Steven Moffat, in April 2015, confirmed that Doctor Who would run for at least another five years, extending the show until at least 2020.
On the 21st December 2015 it was revealed that both "Last Christmas" and "The Husbands of River Song" Christmas specials for 2014 1nd 2015 would be included on The Complete Ninth Series DVD and Blu-Ray boxsets.
This season received critical acclaim and was hailed by many critics as the show's best season to date.
The 2014 Christmas special, "Last Christmas", is the tenth consecutive Christmas Special since the show returned in 2005, the fifth Christmas Special written by Steven Moffat and the first full Christmas Special to feature Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. It is also the third Christmas Special in a row starring Jenna Coleman as Clara.
|The Doctor and River Song
This story stars Nick Frost, Natalie Gumede, Michael Troughton and Dan Starkey and is set on an Arctic base where The Doctor and Clara are trapped and under attack from terrifying sleep inducing creatures. But help is hand in the form of Santa Clause. But not all as it seems and Clara is in for one Christmas Eve that she's never going to forget when she faces what could possibly be her last Christmas.
The first story, of the main season, was "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar". This two part story was crammed with great humour, often courtesy of Michelle Gomez as Missy. ‘Between us and him is everything the deadliest race in all of history can throw at us’, she tells Clara at one point. ‘We, on the other hand, have a pointy stick...’.
And Davros was back... Seen as both the malevolent monster defeated by The Doctor on so many occasions and as a terrified child, trapped on the battlefields of Skaro. Perhaps only Doctor Who could end an adventure with its hero holding the hand of his deadly enemy whilst leading him to safety and advocating mercy...
The second story "Under the Lake/Before the Flood" saw Clara more impetuous than ever and showed The Doctor’s real concern by her lust for adventure. He talked about his duty of care to his companion but when trapped on a base, surrounded by killer ghosts, there wasn’t much he could offer in terms of safety!
This story also introduced the terrifying Fisher King and a bunch of military personal working in the ‘haunted’ base. Many fans instantly took to the sharp, no-nonsense and courageous leader of the group, Cass (played by the brilliant Sophie Stone) whose ability to lip read (the character was deaf) proved pivotal in the story.
Then in "The Girl Who Died", the TARDIS next took The Doctor and Clara to a Viking village where we meet Ashildr for the first time...
There was some glorious humour with The Doctor on top form as he and Clara arrived at the settlement (‘He hasn’t even got a yo-yo!’) but on a more serious level, his companion’s ability to replicate his moves was becoming more apparent. At one point she virtually talked a warrior race into backing down... Before young Ashildr’s aggression undid her good work!
"The Woman Who Lived" saw the return of Ashildr. At once a helter-skelter romp with highwaymen, chases and high-jinx on the scaffold. It was also a poignant look at why figures like The Doctor and Ashildr need mortals... ‘People like us’, he tells her, ‘we go on too long. We forget what matters. The last thing we need is each other. We need the mayflies. See, the mayflies, they know more than we do. They know how beautiful and precious life is because it's fleeting’.
But at the end of "The Woman Who Lived" we glimpsed Ashildr keeping an eye on The Doctor so we new this would not be the last time that their paths would cross.
"The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion" saw the return of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, UNIT, Osgood and the Zygons! A dark thriller of a two-parter where things were seldom as they seemed, we saw the best and worst of both humanity and the aliens as The Doctor’s astonishing, impassioned plea against war saved the day...
But this story also offered another reminder of how impossibly attached The Doctor had become to Clara. ‘I let Clara Oswald get inside my head’ he confided to Bonnie. ‘Trust me. She doesn't leave’.
"Sleep No More" was the kind of story which reminds us that after over Fifty years Doctor Who can still do something completely new... Written by the brilliant Mark Gatiss this was a found footage story and although it contained many staples of a base under siege story, it was fresh and original in the way the action unfolded and the chilling, masterful twist at the end had many people reaching for the corner of their eye, nervously...
And then it was time to "Face the Raven"! This story included the return of Rigsy and an older version of Ashildr, now known as Mayor Me. And the actual basis of the story was terrific - that certain streets are hidden from view and are home to all the strange, strange creatures... Very reminiscent of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter stories.
But, of course, "Face the Raven" will always be remembered for the scenes where Clara’s transformation into someone who was so like The Doctor that she would, in a heartbeat, risk her life for someone else, had played out with tragic consequences and The Doctor’s cold fury made the wait for the next story almost unbearable...
The penultimate story of this season, and the first part of the season’s two-part story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent", was another slice of brilliance with writer Steven Moffat, director Rachel Talalay and Peter Capaldi all at the top of their game and combining to create something very special. A virtual one-hander it traced The Doctor’s attempt to deal with the loss of Clara and as he punched his way through a wall 400 times harder than diamond, it became clear that her loss had made him unstoppable. During the final scenes we witnessed him emerge into the glare of Gallifrey and give a message to a young lad on the sands. ‘Tell them, I know what they did, and I'm on my way. And if they ask you who I am, tell them, I came the long way round...’.
The final episode of this two part story rounded off the main part of this season in style... A battle with the Time Lords that was at once epic and personal with The Doctor defeating Rassilon without firing a single shot. And yet he was hell bent on rescuing Clara, of fulfilling his duty of care... This meant The Doctor going further than ever before, even shooting The General who, of course, regenerated. He managed to rescue Clara, plucking her from her timeline on the trap street after she had ‘Faced the Raven’.
And whatever the rights and wrongs of his actions, it meant she was ultimately free to continue her adventures. The Doctor fled Gallifrey - not for the first time - and for a period had become a traveller without the TARDIS, with no memory of who Clara was and no idea where he might find her...
In the end, Clara Oswald zoomed across the cosmos in a TARDIS with Ashildr, intent on new adventures as she travelled to Gallifrey... ‘the long way round!’ And The Doctor, inevitably and movingly, was reunited with his time machine... As he gazed around his home and slipped his jacket back on, there was a sense of The Doctor being back. A new Sonic screwdriver in hand, piloting the TARDIS to brilliant new adventures across all of time and space!
"The Husbands of River Song" is the show's eleventh Christmas special since its revival, and the second full Christmas special with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. This story sees Alex Kingston return to reprise the role of River Song and is noteworthy for closing the book on River Song's timeline that began with her debut in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead".
The Doctor is on the planet Mendorax Dellora, where he is mistaken for a surgeon. The Doctor discovers that he is required to remove a diamond from the head of River Songs husband - the tyrannical King Hydroflax. The Doctor though is more surprised to discover that River Song does not recognise him. Despite struggling to break the news to her of who he is The Doctor gets to learn how she acts on her own - and how many other lovers she has had. However, both The Doctor and River Song soon find that time is drawing to a close in the last page of her diary...