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When is the Doctor?

I found the Tardis!

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(David finally got his proper shoes.)

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Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson is set to make his debut on Doctor Who later this year, playing Vinder.

As a recurring character throughout the series, Jacob’s new role will see him join forces with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan Lewis (John Bishop) as the Doctor faces her biggest ever adventure battling evil across time and space.

Known to millions as Grey Worm in Game of Thrones, Jacob is a star of stage and screen and has appeared in many television series including Episodes, Broadchurch and Skins as well as roles in King Lear at the Young Vic and War Horse at the National Theatre. Jacob is also a successful music artist who goes under the name Raleigh Ritchie.

Speaking about joining Doctor Who, Jacob said

“The Doctor has been a part of my life forever, from watching and rewatching the serials on VHS as a kid and being terrified, to unexpectedly finding my eyes watering when the Tenth Doctor said 'I don’t want to go', I always wanted to live in the Whoniverse.

“Not only has a lifelong dream of mine now been fulfilled, but to be playing a character as fun, adventurous and dynamic as Vinder is the cherry on top. This is very cool.”

Jacob’s role was announced at today’s Doctor Who San Diego Comic Con panel where Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop teased what is in store for the Doctor as well as showing an exclusive trailer. Doctor Who will return later this year.

Young UK gamers can now transport themselves inside the iconic world of Doctor Who for a limited time in Nightfall, the BBC’s online multiplayer game.

Nightfall’s REM Zone 2 has been transformed until 29th September, and it’s up to Nightfallers to work together and keep the Doctor’s most infamous villains – the Daleks – at bay.

UK gamers can download Nightfall now for iOS, Android and Amazon devices, or play online here.

The free-to-play game gives players the chance to claim new outfits and style their Nightfaller as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, or as one of the Doctor’s long-standing enemies, the Cybermen. Once they’ve unlocked the outfits, they’ll be able to keep them forever.

In Nightfall, players control a version of themselves that exists in their dreams – a Nightfaller. Their purpose: to work with other Nightfallers and defend the Dream from Nightmares, made up of worries from the waking world.

The Doctor Who takeover of REM Zone 2 is one of five REM zones available within the game, hosting up to 20 players across them at a time. Nightfall is being continuously updated and this time-limited feature is the latest in a series of collaborations with BBC brands, with more coming soon.

Rachel Bardill, executive editor, BBC Children’s says:

“Nightfall puts collaboration before competition, and this new Doctor Who zone is an exciting addition, transporting children inside the world of the Doctor to unite and take on the Daleks together. It’s especially important now for kids to connect when they’re apart from friends and classmates, and Nightfall is bringing them together in an online dream world to help defeat Nightmares.”

The Doctor Who zone is only available in the UK, until 29th September, so allons-y!

UK gamers can download Nightfall now for iOS, Android and Amazon devices, or play online here.

Doctors past and present from Doctor Who have rallied together to support the nation’s real-life heroes during The Big Night In, taking place on BBC One this Thursday from 7pm.

Actors Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, Jodie Whittaker and Jo Martin have recorded a thank you for the NHS and all frontline workers shortly before the weekly ‘Clap For Carers’ in the UK at 8pm BST.

The Big Night In will celebrate the acts of kindness, humour and the spirit of hope and resilience that is keeping the nation going during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic with a special night of programming for BBC One in the UK.

This is the first time the BBC’s biggest charitable partners, BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief, have come together and the aim of the evening is to celebrate and reward those going the extra mile to support their communities in these troubled times.

The Big Night In will be on BBC One in the UK on Thursday 23rd April, from 7 - 10pm BST.

The Simple Things

Graham wasn’t keen on bucket lists. He didn’t want to be ticking things off as if there’d come a point where he’d had his fill, and he knew that when the darkness loomed, he found as much solace in the small things – watching the garden birds, dusting Grace’s frog ornaments, hiding the TV remote from Ryan – as he would in bungee jumping off the mountains of Mars.

But when the Doctor offered him the chance to go wherever and whenever he wanted, he knew exactly what to ask for. A small thing, and yet the biggest – a simple kickabout with the first West Ham team to win the cup.

He’d dreamed about it for years. A quick trip back to the glory days of 1964 to tackle Bobby Moore on the training ground. Graham was fully prepared to fall flat on his face in the mud. It would be an honour and a privilege. But this… this was just bloody typical!

“That TARDIS hates me,” Graham despaired. The TARDIS had turned up in a noisy, filthy factory corner, nowhere near Bobby Moore.

“That’s weird,” said the Doctor, checking the sonic.

“No it’s not. It’s exactly what I’d expect. It’s been like that ever since I brought my own cushion along, as if it’s a personal criticism. I tried to explain – it’s memory foam – ”

“No, it’s weird because we are in the right place,” she managed to cut in. “West Ham. Monday 20th April, 1896.”

“Did West Ham even exist in 1896?” Yaz asked, trying to give a stuff about football for Graham’s sake.

“The place probably did, but not the football club,” said Ryan, who had tuned out as much of Graham’s West Ham trivia as he could, but had unwittingly picked bits up.

“No, hang about…” gasped Graham, his eyes starting to sparkle. “Listen.”

They tried to, but it wasn’t easy to hear anything with the CLANK-CLANK-CLANK of the factory racketing on.

“This is an ironworks – that’s what they were called at first – Thames Ironworks F.C. That’s why they’re called the Hammers.” Graham’s heart was CLANKING now.

“Surely it’s Hammers because of the Ham?” Yaz said.

Graham shot her a withering look, but was soon sparkling again as he figured it out. “I never said which cup, did I? So it’s brought us to our first ever final against Barking – the Charity Cup. Last rematch after drawing twice. We win the trophy 1-0 in our first ever season – today!”

“Keep it down, Granddad,” warned Ryan. “If the players are around, you don’t want to give the game away. If you jinx it and they lose, you’ll change the club’s whole history.”

“Did they play here in the Ironworks?” Yaz risked another withering look, but Graham was too enthused to admonish now.

“No, but they worked here, so they must be having a last kickabout before heading to the match. I take it back – I could kiss that TARDIS. I’m going to train with Charlie Dove!”

“Or maybe not,” the Doctor was suddenly grave. “What does this place make, Graham?”

“Ships, mostly. Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, if memory serves.”


“That’s right. For the Navy. And some other countries – ”

“How about for aliens?”

He stared at her. They all did. She wasn’t kidding. They followed the trace the sonic had picked up, through the heat and cacophony of the ironworks to a large door that led into a vast workshop. Or that would have done, if it weren’t locked. A group of young men were hanging around outside, clutching a ball. Graham went quiet, like a shy little kid. The Doctor was still troubled – as were the men.

“Have you got us locked out?” said the man with the ball. “It’s the only empty space. We need to get in and practice, but the boss won’t let us because of some big customer.”

The whole team glared at them, suspicious of the strangers who seemed to fit the ‘big customer’ bill.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a bone to pick with them too. Wait there, won’t be a tick,” the Doctor sonicked the lock and slipped inside. Yaz and Ryan followed, with Graham last, eyes riveted on his heroes, still unable to speak for fear he might only be able to squeak.

The gigantic room was indeed completely empty, until the Doctor revealed what was behind the perception filter. A leviathan of a spaceship. Iron-wrought like a WW1 dreadnought, but a very different shape, tooled for intergalactic skies not seas. Turrets rose on all sides, ready to be decked with alien armaments. A hundred canons at least.

“Draconian Galaxy-class battlecruiser,” the Doctor breathed in horror. “Early model, but I guess it’s another seven centuries before they use them to wage war on humans. I didn’t know you’d crossed paths yet.”

Before the others could get her to break that into bite-size chunks, another door opened and a man in a suit entered with a tall reptilian humanoid woman in a green robe. The gang needed no help to figure out that this was the boss with the big customer, who wasn’t happy to see them sniffing around her gunship. Before the Draconian could declare war, the Doctor was ready with her gambit, for once not even needing to fib.

“Morning! I’m the Doctor – your fifteenth Emperor made me a noble of Draconia. That’s all right, no need to bow, just tell me what on Earth you think you’re doing building gunships here on Earth?”

The Draconian frowned, but took her at her word and answered simply, “Where else should we build it? Our civilisation is too advanced to have our own people do such lowly labour. Our specialists will install the high-tech weaponry and systems, but the basic toil is best left to the basic species. It makes perfect economic sense for us both.”

The boss blushed at being dismissed as primitive and was keen to keep face. “Why wouldn’t she come here? We’re the best shipbuilders on the planet, and we’re almost bankrupt. I’ll take work wherever we can get it rather than see our people starve.”

The gang waited for the Doctor to lay into them both, to tell them the warship would be used against humans one day, and that any warship used against anyone was not good, and that humans weren’t expendable and exploitable by any empire that rocked up with a poxy chequebook… but the Doctor could see that the boss cared about his men, and that the Draconian was just a procurement clerk, and that warships would always be built by poorer worlds and used by richer worlds to destroy each other, and all of a sudden this nice day had nosedived and she felt the darkness loom and then she said –

“Brilliant! Makes perfect sense… except that I’ve brought my mate Graham here to have a kickabout with the guys waiting outside, so would you mind letting them in for fifteen minutes? Go on, you can stay and watch if you pop your perception filters back on.”

Graham never knew if it was the fifteenth Emperor’s honour or just the coolly authoritative way she said it that won them over, but before he knew it, the ship had vanished, the Draconian woman turned into another man in a suit, and soon the whistle was blowing and he was playing footie with Charlie Dove, and all the lads, booting the ball around the vast workshop, with Yaz and Ryan standing strategically to stop it hitting the ship.

The Doctor watched alongside the Draconian, commentating in such a way as to pass on all the fundamentals (including the offside rule) and a whole heap of passion, so that when the time was up, the ground was laid.

“Mind if I have this?” she stopped the ball on a rebound and booted it to the Draconian, who picked it up, curious.

“Such a simple object,” said she – or he, as the big customer guise appeared. “And yet, it’s quite fascinating. May I take this back with me to show the Emperor?”

Charlie Dove was about to protest – as was Graham, who’d hoped for a souvenir – but the Doctor cut in once more. “Please do. You never know, it might help you beat more people than a warship.”

She grinned. So did Graham, realising what she was up to. He reassured Charlie that the team would be fine without their lucky ball and gave them his West Ham pin instead.

“West Ham F.C.? That’s a good name for a team,” said Charlie. “Shame it’s taken.”

“It’s not – yet. I – uh – made it up. You can have it if you want,” Graham stammered, as the prototype Hammers thanked him and headed off to their match – to win the cup.

“Thank you!” Graham shouted, in the TARDIS, to the TARDIS, and to the Doctor and the universe, and whatever else had conspired to allow him to christen his favourite team. Who needed a bucket list when life could twist and turn and surprise you like this on a Monday morning?

The Doctor smiled. She doubted a quick kickabout could ever lead to saving the Earth, but sometimes the simplest things were the greatest things – like her favourite race, and like those beautiful, perfect spheres, on the pitch and spinning in all the solar systems. And if she’d learned one thing about the future, and the past, and the present, it was that she never really knew what would happen next. Which was why hope would always win.

The Shadow Passes

The Doctor had brought them to Calapia for its rural charm, beautiful weather and magnificent ruins. The Calapians, she’d told Yaz, were ‘a wonderful bunch, throw a party at the drop of a hat, six heads, lots of hats’. She’d also said they didn’t like to talk about the ruins, and a bit later she’d added that she’d never figured out why, two facts which Yaz had placed in the drawer in her head marked, ‘Well, I hope that doesn’t bite us in the bottom’.

Calapia had turned out to be as advertised: rural; charming; beautiful and magnificent. But the Calapians had been nowhere to be found. As Yaz and her friends had explored the buildings in one of the planet’s major cities – buildings which looked like they’d had people in them yesterday, people who’d left and carefully locked their doors behind them – Yaz had thought to herself that that mental drawer of hers got opened a lot. That there wasn’t actually a lot left in there, because most of the things that she’d suspected would bite her and her friends in the bottom actually had.

She’d been thinking that when Graham had found the sign. It had said, the letters wobbling a little in the way that indicated the TARDIS was translating for them, ‘This way to the shelters’.

‘Am I over-reacting,’ Graham had said, ‘or is that just a tiny bit worrying?’

Which was how they’d ended up in a bare room, one hundred feet underground, sitting in a circle, with the names of famous people stuck to their foreheads.

The Calapian who’d opened the door of the shelter when they’d knocked on it had been shocked to find there were still tourists who didn’t know about the Death Moon that passed over the planet every 64 years. They had quickly ushered the Doctor and friends inside and had assigned them a room. They’d asked if they had any hats and had seemed pleasantly surprised when they hadn’t. Hat storage alone, they’d said, was taking up a whole corridor down here.

‘How long’s it going to be? I mean, this is a moon, that’ll come and go in a night, yeah?’ Ryan had asked.

The Calapian had looked awkward on all six of its faces. Then it had told them they would be down here for three of their Earth weeks. There were only minutes before the passage would begin. They had had no hope of getting back to the TARDIS.

‘Brilliant,’ the Doctor had said, a word which had been completely at odds with the sort of words Yaz had been about to utter. It hadn’t matched the looks on the faces of Graham and Ryan either. ‘Three weeks of indoor games! Result!’

It had become clear almost immediately that the Doctor, though she liked the idea of indoor games, didn’t actually know the rules of many. She’d had in her pocket a chess set, and she could play that, except she insisted on making individual noises for each piece when she moved. She’d also had a travel set of a game she insisted was really called ‘Scaribble’, despite what it said on the box, because that was how they pronounced it on a planet the name of which she couldn’t herself pronounce. They’d tried to play that first, but the Doctor kept putting down letter tiles which formed the names of places and beings she’d known, or just to make a pattern on the board. Then she’d rearrange other people’s tiles to suit that pattern and after half a day of that Graham had declared he was going on strike. He went to find the facilities, and came back reporting that, to everyone’s relief, things in that department were much like they were at home.

So the Doctor had asked them what they’d like to play. Ryan had played the game with the names stuck on foreheads at parties when he was younger, and if there was one thing the Doctor had in her pockets it was pens, as well as a handy gadget that could manufacture something like paper. ‘Except it decays into compost after a day. Or if it doesn’t it becomes, you know, highly explosive.’

Which was how they’d come to be all sitting in that circle.

From where she was, Yaz could see that the Doctor had a note reading ‘Lewis Capaldi’ stuck to her forehead, Graham had ‘Mel and Sue’ and Ryan had ‘Theodoric the Great’. She, of course, had no idea what was stuck to her own forehead. Though whatever it was clearly delighted Ryan and Graham, who’d come up with it between them.

‘All right,’ said Ryan. ‘So, am I… alive?’

The Doctor looked alarmed. ‘D’you think you might not be?’

‘Is this person alive?’ Ryan pointed to his piece of paper.

‘Wait, when is this?’ said Graham. ‘I mean, when is now? ‘Cause we’ll have to put down a rule to mean –’

‘Is this person,’ continued Ryan, ‘alive in 2020?’

‘That’s a terrible impersonation,’ said the Doctor.


‘Of him on the piece of paper. You sound nothing like him.’

‘Ah,’ said Graham, nudging Ryan, ‘it’s a him.’

Ryan pointed again at the piece of paper and paced his next sentence like there was a social media handclap between every word. ‘I don’t know who I am.’

‘Bit soon for that,’ said the Doctor, ‘we’ve only been here one day.’

It ended up being one of the longest party games Yaz had ever taken part in. Or maybe it just felt that way. Following Ryan’s painful discovery of the history of the late Roman empire and a bit of confusion about what the word ‘goth’ meant in that context, Graham’s correct guess about how he could be two people at once, and the Doctor’s anecdotes about playing the triangle for the ‘lovely Scottish lad and his dad’, Yaz decided to make a serious attempt to deduce whose name she was wearing. ‘Am I a woman?’ she said.

‘Yes,’ said Ryan and Graham quickly and immediately.

Yaz glanced over to see the Doctor open and close her mouth, as if deciding not to say something. Yaz wasn’t sure she’d ever seen the Doctor make that decision before.

‘Okay. Am I famous?’

‘Yeah, pretty much,’ said Ryan and Graham, but again, the Doctor looked as if she had a problem with that but didn’t quite want to voice it.

That, thought Yaz, was unique. Unique was where answers lived. One of her criminology lecturers had said that. Who wasn’t the Doctor sure about? To the point where she wasn’t even willing to commit to them being a particular gender? Oh. She pointed at the Doctor. ‘I’m you,’ she said.

Ryan and Graham shouted in defeat, and the Doctor smiled an enormous smile, like sunshine through clouds.

Shortly after, the Doctor fixed all their phones so they could follow stuff from home and added lots of games to them too, though a lot of them didn’t make much sense. The prospect of being shut up in here with her slowly changed from, as Ryan had put it in a whisper, ‘like being stuck in a lift with a bee’ to something a lot more relaxing. Yaz watched, fascinated, as she changed how she acted, almost every hour, just happening to start telling a relaxing, funny story as the night arrived, or turning out her pockets to find miniaturised books. Every now and then she would take herself off for a brisk walk around the room with one or the other of them when they needed to vent or just needed the exercise.

At one point, a small automated device arrived, carrying a basic meal of local fruit and what turned out to be a sort of bread. The Doctor used the sonic screwdriver to confirm they could eat it. Yaz noticed her sizing them all up as they did so, while they talked about what they’d do when they got home, a frown on her face, as if just for a second they’d disappointed her.

A little later that same day, Yaz joined the Doctor on one of her walks. She wanted to share what she’d observed. ‘I thought you said you were socially awkward?’ she said. ‘’Cause I’m not seeing that right now.’

The Doctor looked worried. ‘I am. Often. Seriously. But this is a task. I’m good at tasks. Thanks for noticing. Don’t tell the others. I don’t want them to start seeing me doing it. Or they’ll get tired too.’

‘You made yourself annoying so we’d feel relieved when you stopped.’

‘Oh. Yeah. Did that without thinking about it. Relief that summat’s better than you thought it would be will get you through a day or so of awfulness. I learned that at Woodstock.’

‘Do you do that a lot?’

‘What, go to 1970s hippy rock festivals? No. Never again. The mud. The poetry. The nudity. Or was that the Somme?’

‘I mean make yourself look smaller than you are.’

The Doctor’s face gurned as it only did when her brain was wrestling with something she didn’t particularly enjoy considering. ‘’S’pose. I used to like it when people underestimated me, but in this body it’s a bit rubbish, because when I go “Aha!” and I want people to stop underestimating me, they just keep right on underestimating me.’

Yaz felt that. ‘We don’t do that, though. None of us. I sometimes think if we could see all you were, at once, it’d be too much. We couldn’t deal.’

The Doctor looked bashful and pleased all at the same time, which was another of Yaz’s favourite looks of hers. ‘Well, I certainly can’t. I’m a bit too much for me. I’m more than I knew about. Still processing all that. I sometimes think that’s why I change personality instead of just making my body younger. I need to switch myself off and on again so I can handle all the memories, so a lot of it feels like it happened to someone else. I get a different perspective on what I’ve done. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. There’s this girl in a mirror. Where I put her. That doesn’t suit who I am now. When we get out of here… Oh, this is getting deep and meaningful, isn’t it?’ Yaz was about to say that was fine, but the Doctor swung to include the others, suddenly pulling another surprise from her pockets. ‘Balloon animals!’

Graham raised his hand, which was half a request and half an order for the Doctor to halt. ‘I’ve been thinking,’ he said, ‘about where that meal came from. I think we should go find some Calapians and say thanks.’

‘Yeah,’ said Ryan, ‘see if we can help out.’

And there on the Doctor’s face, Yaz saw that enormous smile again.

And so the days passed in balloon animals and yoga and karaoke and also in learning all sorts of things about what Calapians liked to do, as the Doctor and her friends cooked and distributed alongside them.

On the last night of the passing of the Death Moon everyone in the shelter came together and ate and were quiet, and all those heads lowered in remembrance of what had gone and those who’d been lost. The heads of the Doctor and her friends were lowered with them.

Yaz felt, by the end of it, that she’d had a rest, honestly, physically and spiritually. Something had been proven to her in isolation. The Doctor saw that look on her face as they waited for the big doors to open. ‘In the midst of death,’ she said, so gently that only Yaz could hear it, ‘we are in life. Together.’

The doors opened and they stepped out into the daylight. Graham and Ryan grabbed each other and laughed.

Yaz took a deep breath. And the air was good.

@ / Monday 20 September 2021 06:55 UTC