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Hopes for the Doctor Who Centenary Special and Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor

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The end of an era is rapidly approaching. The upcoming Doctor Who Centenary Special will be the final episode for Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. Additionally, longtime companion Yaz (Mandip Gill) and more recent companion Dan (John Bishop) will be leaving the TARDIS as well.

Like any other final episode for a Doctor, this episode will likely be epic, emotional, and powerful. Although we already know a good amount about the Centenary Special, I’d like to break down some predictions/hopes that I have for Thirteen’s final outing.

What we know so far about the Doctor Who Centenary Special

As of right now, we know quite a bit about the Centenary Special (except the title, still). One of the most notable things we have to look forward to is the return of Fifth Doctor companion Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding) and Seventh Doctor companion Ace (Sophie Aldred). 

Tegan was last seen when she suddenly and unceremoniously disappeared from the show after the events of “Resurrection of the Daleks” in 1984. Although several pieces of Doctor Who spin-off media have attempted to give her story a more conclusive resolution, it will be spectacular to have Tegan return and see what she’s been up to for the past four decades. 

Sophie Aldred as Ace Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka.
LtR Sophie Aldred as Ace Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovank returning to Doctor Who. (BBC)

It will be similarly exciting to see Ace again after all these years. Fans have never really gotten a definitive on-screen conclusion to her story arc, as she was still traveling with the Doctor when the show was canceled in 1989.

Additionally, the BBC has confirmed that Sacha Dhawan will return as The Master, Jacob Anderson will be back as Flux’s Vinder, and Jemma Redgrave will reprise her role as UNIT’s Kate Stewart. The Daleks and the Cybermen will also be appearing as the monsters for the special.

The episode, written by Chris Chibnall, still hasn’t been confirmed for a broadcast date but is expected to air sometime in Autumn of this year. It seems likely to release around the time of the Centenary itself on October 18th.

Benny and the New Adventures

My biggest hope for the Centenary special is that there will be some kind of reference to Bernice Summerfield (Benny) and the events of the New Adventures of Doctor Who series. For those who may not know, New Adventures was a series of full-length novels published by Virgin Publishing from 1991 to 1997. They were meant to be a continuation of the series after the final episode, “Survival” in 1989, bridging the gap between season 26 and the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie.

The New Adventures introduced a number of excellent companions and side characters alongside Ace, most notably Professor Bernice Summerfield. Benny was an archaeologist from the 26th Century (a little like River Song!) and over the course of the New Adventures novels became one of the most well-known-and-loved non-TV Who companions. She was so popular that she ended up having her own solo series of novels, as well as audio play spinoffs and comics.

[Note: Audio productions of this and many Doctor Who adventures are available through Big Finish]

Lisa Bowerman as Benny
Lisa Bowerman as Benny (left) with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred in a Doctor Who audio production of The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield (Big Finish/BBC)

According to the New Adventures, Ace and Benny traveled together in the TARDIS for a very long time, and got to know and trust each other very well. In my opinion, Ace’s return to the show would be made even better by her referencing Benny somehow and officially making her canon. It wouldn’t need to be made into a big moment, but having at least a brief reference to some of the events of the New Adventures novels would be delightful.

And, this is almost certainly too much to ask for, but if Lisa Bowerman (Benny’s primary voice actor in the audio plays) made a brief cameo appearance, even just in a flashback, I might pass out from excitement.

Whatever the case, incorporating Professor Summerfield into this episode in some small way would make a fantastic easter egg that would be a treat for hardcore fans of Doctor Who.

Justice for Tegan!

Fans of classic Who will be well aware that companions leaving the show used to not be nearly as dramatic or significant as it is in NuWho (with a few exceptions). Companions in the classic series used to come and go without too much pomp and circumstance, often deciding to leave the TARDIS in the last 2 minutes of the episode, and in the middle of the season too. 

One of the most notable examples of this would be Tegan Jovanka. At the end of “Resurrection of the Daleks”, Tegan was so overwhelmed by all the violence and bloodshed she’d witnessed at the hands of the Daleks that she decided to leave the TARDIS and return to her normal life in England (in the last 30 seconds of the episode).

Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor with Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka
Peter Davison as the fifth Doctor with Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka (BBC)

While I’ve always felt Tegan’s reasons for leaving the TARDIS were understandable, I always wish that her story had a more definitive conclusion. As it stood, when she left the TARDIS, it was very unclear where she was going or what she would do with her life.

Therefore, I hope that the Centenary Special devotes a solid chunk of time to Tegan’s character, and gives her an appropriate sendoff. Chibnall has the opportunity to answer many unanswered questions; for instance, what’s Tegan been up to all this time? How did traveling in the TARDIS change her? Did she ever deal with the trauma caused by the Daleks?

In that vein, it will be interesting seeing Tegan come face to face with the Daleks once more, and how she has changed as a character. I hope that Chibnall does her character justice and we get a satisfying conclusion for Tegan as a companion.

No Cybermasters, please!

While I am a known defender of the Timeless Child story arc, there was one aspect of it that did bother me a little: the Cybermasters.

The Master and the Cybermasters - Doctor Who
Sacha Dhawan as The Master, with the Cybermasters. (BBC)

From the silly name to the somewhat laughable appearance, this aspect of “The Timeless Children” really did not do it for me. But seeing as both The Master and the Cybermen will be returning for the Doctor Who Centenary Special, it looks entirely possible that the Cybermasters might be back for revenge.

However, at the end of “The Timeless Children”, the Death Particle apparently annihilated all of the Cybermasters, so hopefully, that will be the last we see of them. I think that, like the Paradigm Daleks, the Cybermasters are a piece of Doctor Who lore that is perhaps best forgotten.

A proper send-off for Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor

With all of these announcements about returning villains and companions, it’s easy to forget the whole point of this episode: the final adventure in the TARDIS for Jodie Whittaker.

And, frankly, I am a little worried about that.

This special is celebrating 100 years of the BBC, so of course, Chris Chibnall will be bringing back some of the most loved and iconic characters and monsters from one of the BBC’s biggest shows. And while I am excited to see how this crowded, action-packed episode will play out, I am somewhat anxious that it’s going to be too crowded.

Jodie Whittaker thirteen Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) (BBC).

I worry that with so many characters and plot threads to keep track of, the Doctor herself will be overshadowed.

Jodie Whittaker has really given a wonderful performance as the Doctor. She’s funny, optimistic, heartfelt, and always maintains a childlike wonder at the universe—everything that the Doctor should be. I hope more than anything that this Centenary Special is not just a celebration of Doctor Who and the BBC, but a celebration of Jodie Whittaker and the Thirteenth Doctor. Her era of the show has been thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope that she gets the same level of emotional weight in her final moments as the previous Doctors have had. She deserves it.

I, like many other Whovians, am eagerly awaiting the release of this monumental episode. And, as sorry as I am to see Thirteen go, I will be more than ready to welcome Ncuti Gatwa as the Fourteenth Doctor starting next year. It will be an absolute treat to see his first appearance as the Doctor in this upcoming episode.

What are your thoughts and wishes for the Doctor Who Centenary Special? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter! And for a full breakdown of “The Legend of the Sea Devils”, Jodie Whittaker’s second to the last episode of Doctor Who, check out Brian’s review!

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Sam Pearce

My name is Sam and I recently graduated with two BA's in Journalism and Creative Writing from Western Washington University. More than anything, I love comics, novels, TV shows... just storytelling in general. Some of my favorites include Doctor Who, Star Wars, Godzilla, and all sorts of anime.

Sam Pearce has 25 posts and counting. See all posts by Sam Pearce