Ncuti Gatwa will meet an “unexpected name” from the Fourth Doctor era in the next series of Doctor Who, according to Doctor Who Magazine.
The revelation comes from the series’ new script editor Scott Handcock, whose production diary notes: “It’s a triple-unit shoot day as Julie Anne Robinson wraps on Block Three, David Tennant continues with his publicity material for the specials, and Ben Chessell kicks off filming on Block Four – with Jinkx Monsoon’s announcement.
“What isn’t announced is that Jinkx’s first day on set teams her with an unexpected name from the Tom Baker era.”
So who on earth will Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor encounter? And is this the name of an actor, or a particular character? Here are some possible contenders…
Julian Glover (Scaroth)
How could we resist one of Doctor Who‘s most suave, spaghetti-headed villains, and a Hollywood actor to boot? Whilst it would be fantastic to see Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor up against the Last of the Jagaroth (from Douglas Adam’s ‘City of Death‘) any appearance from Julian Glover would be welcome.
Glover, as you might know, has appeared in a number of beloved movies including The Empire Strikes Back and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Science fiction fans will also know him as the slightly neurotic Professor Kayn from the Blake’s 7 episode ‘Breakdown.’
Of course, Julian Glover also appeared as Richard the Lionheart in the First Doctor story ‘The Crusade,’ so he’s not strictly a name from the Tom Baker era. Still, few people would be complaining if he showed up in one of Ncuti Gatwa’s episodes.
Bruce Purchase (The Pirate Captain)
Bruce Purchase played the Pirate Captain in another classic Douglas Adams story ‘The Pirate Planet,’ and whilst the actor sadly died in 2008, his character is fondly remembered as one of Doctor Who‘s truly ‘larger than life’ villains.
So, if Scott Handcock is referring to a character “name” rather than an actor, could Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor realistically come up against the Pirate Captain? Well, the character died in the original story, but death is no hurdle to any Doctor Who villain worth their salt, so we could be looking at a robot replica, or a prequel of some kind.
Alternatively, could the production team consider a mashup of the original ‘Pirate Planet’ story, in the style of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode ‘Trials and Tribble-ations‘ – as in, with Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor going back inside one of his past adventures, with footage reused from the 1978 story? It’s a crazy idea, but stranger things have happened…
Tom Chadbon (Duggan)
We’ve written extensively about the detective Duggan before, even going so far as to propose him as a contender for a Doctor Who spin-off. This classic character is another Douglas Adams creation, and starred alongside Julian Glover in 1979’s ‘City of Death.’ Moreover, Tom Chadbon is still a working actor, so a reappearance opposite Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Indeed, it would be fascinating to see how Duggan has evolved with age. Is he still working as a private detective? Or did his experiences with the Jagaroth send him down a new path? Has he been recruited by UNIT, or Torchwood, and does he still have a penchant for hitting things?
Even if Duggan doesn’t make an appearance in Doctor Who Series Fourteen, he is long overdue a return in some capacity. Can you help us out, Big Finish?
Romana (Lalla Ward)
Mary Tamm, who played the original Romana, is sadly no longer with us, but could her successor Lalla Ward return to the Whoniverse opposite Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor?
It could get a bit complicated, but it’s not impossible. TV-wise, the last time Romana was seen was in the 1981 story ‘Warriors’ Gate,’ with Romana choosing to leave the TARDIS and stay in E-Space along with K9. So the next series of Doctor Who could pick up where this plot thread left off and see Ncuti Gawta’s Doctor returning to E-Space to reunite with his old friends.
Alternatively, the production team could go in a different direction and incorporate some of the expanded universe plot threads from the likes of Big Finish and the Virgin novels, where Romana has become the President of Gallifrey. In which case, we could be looking at a pre-Time War story of some kind, or even a tale that takes place during the Time War itself.
But would this be too continuity-heavy for the casual viewer? Or the perfect way to carry on Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary celebrations?
Lady Adrasta (Myra Frances)
‘The Creature from the Pit’ might not be one of the most beloved Fourth Doctor stories, but there’s no denying the impact made by its main villain Lady Adrasta, superbly played by Myra Frances.
Sadly the actor passed away in 2021, so the best bet for Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor would be a recasting or even a deep-fake recreation. And this is not such a crazy idea in 2023; digitally recreating the face and voice of long-dead actors is scarily viable these days, but it does raise a moral question: Do production teams have the right to create ‘new’ performances for deceased actors, as Star Wars did with Peter Cushing in 2016’s Rogue One?
It’s a tough one. But there’s no denying that a return to Chloris for Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor would be highly entertaining, and a rematch with the snow queen that was Lady Adrasta would be a joy to watch. They could even have a go at recreating the titular Creature itself – although maybe with less provocative appendages.
But over to you, internet. Which name from the Tom Baker era would you most like Ncuti Gatwa to meet in 2024? And do you think Scott Handcock is referring to a particular character, or just an actor from that time period? Let me know in the comments below.