"Spyfall" is the two-part premiere story of Season Thirty Eight (New Series 12). It was written by showrunner and Executive Producer Chris Chibnall and the first episode was directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, and the second by Lee Haven Jones.
This story stars Jodie Whittaker in her second season as the Thirteenth Doctor with her travelling companions; Graham O'Brien, Ryan Sinclair and Yasmin Khan played by Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill respectively.
This story sees The Doctor and her travelling companions team up with MI6, and re-introduced The Master, now in a new incarnation played by Sacha Dhawan.
This is the first multi-part television story to have more than one credited director since the 1964 First Doctor story "Planet of Giants".
Jamie Magnus Stone, who previously directed the fiftieth-anniversary mini-story "The Last Day", directed the stories in the first recording block, which comprised the first part of this story and "Praxeus" - the fifth story of this season. He also directed the final two stories of this season, "Ascension of the Cybermen" and "The Timeless Children". While Lee Haven Jones directed the second recording block, which comprised the second part of this story and "Orphan 55" - the second story. He also directed "Revolution of the Daleks" - the 2020 Christmas special.
Both directors are new to Doctor Who. Jamie Magnus Stone is a Scottish film director and animator. In 2014 he was BAFTA-nominated for his short film Orbit Ever After and in 2016 he directed the television movie The Last Dragonslayer.
Lee Haven Jones' work as a director includes episodes of Russell T Davies' Wizards vs Aliens as well as adult dramas such as Waterloo Road, Casualty, Vera and The Bay.
This story marks the return of The Master since the 2017 Twelfth Doctor story "World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls".
Sacha Dhawan made an unannounced appearance playing the part of Agent O, later revealed to be The Master. Sacha Dhawan previously portrayed the part of Waris Hussein, the director of the very first Doctor Who story, in the 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. He said that he had been notified of the role as O/The Master in January 2019 about a week prior before filming started in South Africa. At the time he was working with Peter Capaldi, who played the Twelfth Doctor, on a scripted play. It has been reported Sacha Dhawan had found it hard to keep a straight face in front of Peter Capaldi since he had to keep his role as The Master a secret.
Lenny Henry and Stephen Fry were cast in this story, with Lenny Henry playing the part of Daniel Barton, and Stephen Fry as C, the head of MI6.
Speaking ahead of his appearance in this story, Sir Lenny Henry said: ‘It was absolutely brilliant to be welcomed into the fantastical world of Doctor Who. The nearest I have been to the TARDIS was when I played the Caribbean Doctor in the Lenny Henry Show, so as a life-long Doctor Who fan this is a very special moment for me’.
Filming for this story commenced on the 23rd January 2019 and included filming in South Africa - mainly for the scenes that took place in the Australian outback.
This story's title is a play on the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall.
The concept of MI6 members being known by a single letter, namely ‘C’ and ‘O’ is a reference to a similar feature (‘M’ and ‘Q’) seen throughout the James Bond franchise, introduced in the original novels written by Ian Fleming.
According to one news source this story also pays homage to Casino Royale, the first novel in the James Bond series, which was centred on gambling and aristocracy.
In this story The Doctor introduces herself to the party receptionist as ‘Doctor, The Doctor’ in James Bond style.
The Doctor is heard to say that she once lived in the Australian Outback for 123 years.
The Doctor is heard referring to her regeneration to a female form as an ‘upgrade’, much as Missy once did in "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar".
The Master, while still under the guise of Agent O, refers to The Doctor as having once been a man. Graham, overhearing this, recalls The Doctor having made this claim, which he believed to be a joke (see "The Woman Who Fell to Earth").
The Master alludes to his part in the Fourth Doctor's regeneration asking if he had ever apologised for The Doctor falling from the Pharos Project radio telescope in the 1981 story "Logopolis".
The Doctor taps a Morse Code of four beats, the heartbeat of a Time Lord, which she notes she and The Master have a personal connection to (see "Utopia, "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords" and "The End of Time").
Ryan decides that his spy name will be ’Logan’, but starts panicking upon realising he looks ‘nothing like Hugh Jackman’.
Graham again is mistaken as The Doctor, when she is immediately dismissed in favour of Graham, on account of her gender (see also "The Witchfinders").
This story features Noor Inayat Khan, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The Fourth previously met Ada Lovelace at a later point in her life in the Big Finish Productions Fourth Doctor audio story "The Enchantress of Numbers", written by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris.
The Doctor wipes Noor and Ada's memories of everything they witnessed since meeting her as the Tenth Doctor did to former travelling companion Donna Noble in the 2008 story "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End".
The Master once again spends an extensive amount of time masquerading as someone else in order to carry out a long-term plan (see "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords" and "World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls").
During the lead-up to his real identity, Agent O/The Master states his house flying outside the plane is a bit ‘Wicked Witch of the West’.
The Master claims to be The Doctor's ‘best enemy’. In the 1983 Twentieth Anniversary story, "The Five Doctors", the Third Doctor previously identified The Master as such to Sarah Jane Smith.
This story also saw two features from the original series making a return: The Master's Tissue Compression Eliminator, and the Time Lord’s ability of telepathic contact, which The Doctor and The Master once again use to communicate via a psychic link.
The Master indirectly mentions using the Tissue Compression Eliminator, marking its re-introduction to the revived series. It is then revealed that he has used this device to shrink the original Agent O. The Tissue Compression Eliminator was first introduced to the show in the 1971 Third Doctor story "Terror of the Autons".
The Doctor's home planet Gallifrey made a return, having not been seen since the Twelfth Doctor ran away once more in the 2015 story "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent", with the Citadel now in ruins and the Times Lords implied dead at The Master's hand.
In an ongoing story arc, The Master reveals that he has uncovered a secret about the Time Lords' history, connected to ‘The Timeless Child’. The Timeless Child had been mentioned briefly in the previous season story "The Ghost Monument" - where the Remnants taunted The Doctor about her knowledge of The Child.
The Master mentions how the Time Lords view him and The Doctor as renegades. (see "The War Games", "Terror of the Autons", "The Deadly Assassin", "The Five Doctors", "The End of Time and "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent").
The Master refers to Gallifrey ‘hiding in its little bubble universe’ (see "The Day of The Doctor" and "The Time of The Doctor").
The Master remembers visiting Gallifrey after the Last Great Time War (see "World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls").
This story marked the first time a villain has been capable of physically breaking through the sealed doors of the TARDIS.
The Doctor remarks in surprise at the entity's ability to enter the TARDIS given its high security (see "Rose", "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways" and "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End").
The story further introduced a new aspect to the Time Vortex. Now, when the TARDIS breaks into Gallifrey's ‘time bubble’, the vortex changes from its normal appearance in purple to resemble an orange ball of flaming fire.
The Doctor steals The Master's TARDIS, mirroring how The Master once did likewise with The Doctor's TARDIS in the 2007 Tenth Doctor story "Utopia".
Graham is heard calling the grey-suited men's car the ‘worst Uber ever’.
The Doctor's life is once again threatened by a SatNav device controlled by a power intent on killing target passengers. The Tenth Doctor narrowly escaped from an ATMOS-controlled UNIT vehicle which was about to plunge him and his passenger, Jenkins, to their ‘final destination’ (see "The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky").
When C dismisses the possibility of alien life, The Doctor tells him to ask GCHQ, referring to the Dalek attack of New Year's Day that occurred in the 2019 story "Resolution".
The Doctor is heard commenting to C that both UNIT and Torchwood are no more.
The Doctor has a conversation with Graham through a tape recording. The Tenth Doctor did much the same with Sally Sparrow in the 2007 story "Blink".
At the end of this story we see that The Master has left a hologram message for The Doctor, which plays in the TARDIS after he is gone. The Ninth Doctor once did something similar, recording such a message for Rose Tyler as part of Emergency Program One in the 2005 story "Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways". In this story’s hologram, The Master references the Founding Fathers of Gallifrey (see the BBC Books' The Eighth Doctor Stories novel "The Ancestor Cell", written by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole, and the BBC Books' novel "The Infinity Doctors" written by Lance Parkin).
The Doctor tells her companions that she comes from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous (see "Pyramids of Mars", "Attack of the Cybermen", "Voyage of the Damned" and "The Day of The Doctor").
The Doctor states that she stole her TARDIS and ran away from Gallifrey (see "The War Games", "Logopolis", "The Five Doctors", "Remembrance of the Daleks", "The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords", "The Doctor's Wife", "The Name of The Doctor", "Heaven Sent/Hell Bent" and the 2013 Big Finish Productions audio story "The Beginning").
This is the first two-part story not to use separate titles for its episodes since the 2009/10 two-part story "The End of Time". Making this the second such story in the revived series. Incidentally, both stories aired in part on New Year's Day, and both featured The Master.
Part One of this story marks the first episode since the 2017 Twelfth Doctor story "Twice Upon a Time" to include a pre-introduction scene. Part Two however, used a re-cap of Part One rather than any new scenes.
Part Two of this story is the first ‘follow-up’ episode to feature a re-cap with an opening voiceover: ‘Previously on Doctor Who...’, spoken by the Thirteenth Doctor. The prior norm for the show, and indeed its televised spin-offs, was the use of an on-screen caption which typically just read ‘Previously’.
This spoken formula was previously used by Big Finish Productions in the recap to the 2002 Big Finish Productions audio story "Neverland" which opened "Zagreus". In that case, the voiceover was provided by Don Warrington, who voiced Rassilon in both stories.
With some exceptions, pre-title sequences were not featured in the original run from 1963 to 1989. Pre-title sequences became a permanent occurrence in the revived series from the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "The End of the World" onward. Pre-title sequences were then completely abandoned during Season Thirty Seven (New Series 11).
The first part of this two-part story is dedicated to the memory of the ‘Masterful’ Terrance Dicks, who died in August 2019, with the caption in the end titles that states ‘Dedicated to the memory of the Masterful Terrance Dicks’. Terrance Dicks was a Doctor Who writer and script editor – including for The Master's debut in the 1971 Third Doctor story "Terror of the Autons".
The first part of this story was broadcast on the 1st January 2020, with the second part four days later, on the 5th January 2020 - the programme’s regular Sunday timeslot. This is the first story in the show's history to have all its episodes broadcast four days apart rather than a whole week.
Similar to the 2016 Twelfth Doctor story "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" and its predecessor, the 2015 Twelfth Doctor story "The Husbands of River Song", the first part of this story aired exactly one year after the preceding story, "Resolution".
Part one of this story was broadcast, to the day, on the tenth anniversary of the second part of the 2010 story "The End of Time". Each episode aired on the first day of their respective decade.
Both parts of this story were released in cinemas in the United States on the 5th January 2020.
The first story of Season Thirty Eight (New Series 12).
The Thirteenth Doctor's first encounter with The Master.
The first appearance in the show of The Master played by Sacha Dhawan.
The first multi-part television story to have more than one credited director since the 1964 First Doctor story "Planet of Giants".
The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.
The first Doctor Who story to be directed by Lee Haven Jones.
Caroline Buckley's first involvement in the show as Script Editor.
Dafydd Shurmer's first involvement in the show as Production Designer.
The first time a villain has been capable of physically breaking through the sealed doors of the TARDIS.
The first two-part story not to use separate titles for its episodes since the 2009/10 two-part story "The End of Time".
Part One of this story marks the first episode since the 2017 Twelfth Doctor story "Twice Upon a Time" to include a pre-introduction scene.