If you’ve been gawping at Doctor Who trailers for over a decade, as I have, you’ll know that because of the show’s flexible format, all a trailer needs to do to generate a buzz is hammer viewers with dozens of cool visuals, like in this promo image - I bet you if that precise scene occurs in the show, it'll be a gag and over in a second, but that doesn't matter:
Whereas a trailer for a show or movie based around one locale, storyline or set of characters will require a genuine hint at what’s to come plot-wise, the vast sandbox and infinite possibilities for the Whoniverse allows their trailers to poke the gurgling, cooing part of a Doctor Who fan’s brain that says “World War II spitfires flying through space? Cool!” or “a steam train driving into a tunnel built into an Egyptian pyramid labelled ‘AREA 52’? Awesome!” – so trying to draw conclusions about what’s ahead based on a Doctor Who trailer is largely a futile exercise.
Right. Let’s get on with this futile exercise, shall we?
We kick off in typically understated fashion, peeking out from within a bag as Nardole (Matt Lucas) peeks in. What’s in here? It can’t be what Nardole expects – his initial expression is his usual slightly vacant, unfocused gaze, before he catches sight of what’s inside and changes to the look of confusion and concern you see above…
And what do you know? A mere eighty words after cracking a gag about pyramids in Doctor Who trailers, here’s a pyramid in a Doctor Who trailer. But where is this one? Surely not Egypt; there aren’t any grassy bits around there, are there?
Two lads in spacesuits doing their daily rounds in the cornfield, or something more sinister? I don’t like the look of that black cloud…
Once new companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) has pricked the pomposity of the Doctor’s claim that the TARDIS is “the gateway to everything that was or ever can be” by comparing it to a kitchen, we find ourselves here. But where’s here? It’s a reasonable shout that this is her first trip in the TARDIS; she seems to be wearing the same clothing she was wearing a few shots prior where it looked like she was at the university – has the Doctor tried to impress her by taking her to some futuristic wellness spa? And look above – there’s that swarmy-cloudy-looking thing that we also saw in the cornfield. Am I onto something here?
I am? Great, thanks. There’s no sign of this robot that “speaks emoji” in the previous still, but here it is. It looks like we’ve identified our friends from the cornfield – could that black swarm be how they travel; disintegrating into a black cloud before being reconstituted at their destination? They already speak emoji; maybe they get from A to B by being ‘uploaded to the cloud’?
Moving on – a spacesuited Bill exclaims is surprised to find herself on “Mars?!?” here. Now, who do we know from Mars? Hmmm…
Hold that thought – we’re now in 1814, according to the Doctor. Bill cries “get in!” at the prospect in the following shot, giving us all flashbacks of the “down with the kids” dialect of 1980s companion Ace. We know when we are here, but where are we? 19th century London perhaps…can you recall Doctor Who ever visiting that period?
And just when are we here? Nardole’s cute bobble hat and dressing gown combo initially made me think we were still in snowy 1814, but the primitive clothing and weaponry in this still suggests otherwise. Vikings? Is the Doctor going back to visit Ashildir’s clan from “The Girl Who Died”? Where and whenever they are, it’s not going well. And what’s that on their faces? Surely they can’t all have fallen asleep at a party and been attacked with a Sharpie?
The clan haven’t taken kindly to the Doctor and Nardole but it looks like Bill’s in their good books. She’s not being threatened in the previous still and it looks like she’s looking on in horror at what’s about to happen. Although, look at her left shoulder – perhaps there’s a lot of seagulls in the area and that look of horror is for another reason…“So how do we stay out of trouble?” Bill asks in the next shot. Doesn’t she know what show she’s in?
I’m going to go out on a limb with this still and guess that at some point, we go under the sea and encounter a very large sea creature.
The Daleks are back! This scene looks to be taken straight from “Friend from the Future”, the fun little scene which was shown around a year ago to introduce us to the new companion. I assumed that had been specially shot, but no, it looks like it’s found its way into the new series. The last we saw of the Daleks, they were back on their home planet of Skaro, being attacked by their own sewers (sounds mad, but it made perfect sense in the context of the episode, honest). Did they find a way to overcome that, or are we encountering a different squadron to the team that were stationed at home, looking after Davros?
Whatever their plans are, it involves humans forming from some kind of goo and copying their catchphrase. We’ve seen human Dalek agents in the past, but they had eyestalks protruding from their heads rather than this curious ability (and let’s not get started on the pig slaves) – so are these a different species entirely, taking on human form?“Something’s coming, Bill…” says the Doctor over a shot of him confronted with this ominous-looking door. My initial instinct was that this shot was from the same episode which saw the Doctor and Nardole threatened with spears, but take a closer look and you’ll see that the Doctor’s in different clothing, and there are tiny red LED lights on that door… …oh yeah, and spikes. Take a closer look at those circles – that looks like Time Lord text to me; is this the entrance to, or exit from, a TARDIS? Or – remember the last time we were in a castle that turned out to have something to do with the Time Lords? Are we back in the Doctor’s Confession Dial from “Heaven Sent”?
Who are these handsome fellows? They’ve got shades of Sycorax, Sybilline Sisterhood and, if you want to get really niche, the Ambassadors from the City State of Binding Light from way back in 2005’s “The End of the World”…
Remember them? No? Just me? Fair enough - something tells me these boys are a new proposition entirely. Although, having been reminded of the Ambassadors from the City State of Binding Light for the first time in about ten years, if the production team want to bring them back, I won’t stand in their way…“It’s time…” says a character who we’ve been officially told is called ‘the Landlord’, played by David Suchet. Respected British star of stage and screen, playing a character with a ‘the’ prefix in his name, talking about time…I’ll eat my hat if he’s not a Time Lord. But which one? The fact that he’s been called ‘the Landlord’ rather than anything more ominous in press releases suggests to me that he’s not going to bring about the end of the universe, but is involved in some more light-hearted japes…could the Meddling Monk, another rogue Time Lord who appeared opposite William Hartnell’s Doctor in the ‘60s be in for a return?
Of course, no episode featuring emoji robots would be complete without the scarier emojis getting in on the action. I wonder if ‘smiling poo’ or ‘monkey covering its eyes’ will make an appearance?
The bitch is back! Missy, aka the Master is back to wreak havoc once more. Last time we saw her, she was trying to strike a deal with the Daleks as she too got caught up in the sewer uprising, but this doesn’t look like the Dalek episode…could she be shacked up with ‘the Landlord?’
And does she later get turned to wood? Certainly, this still appears from the same episode that Missy appears in…the hair’s different, but being turned into wood will do that to anyone.
UNIT?!?! No – these aren’t the outfits we’ve become accustomed to seeing our favourite paramilitary organisation wearing, and, though it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the rest of the soldier on the left’s helmet reads ‘IT’, looking at the two soldiers on the right it looks like they’re just plain old UN soldiers. Zzzz.“Bring it”, the Doctor says, seemingly channelling The Rock, before we see the Amba- sorry, this new species closing in on us with some seriously creepy-looking hands.
Fun fact: the extra at the front here dressed in what looks like a beefed-up X-Wing pilot’s outfit gets disintegrated onboard the Dalek Crucible in 2008’s “Journey’s End”, is among the Futurekind in 2007’s “Utopia” and appears as a wedding guest, an undercover police officer and a nurse at a secret care facility in three separate episodes of Torchwood – and those are just the examples I can remember off the top of my head. Coincidence? Maybe. Limited number of supporting artists available in North Wales? Possibly. Epic story arc spanning almost a decade which nobody picked up on? Fingers crossed.
This freaky-looking cloth-faced chap is one of the original breed of Cybermen, who last appeared in 1966’s The Tenth Planet, were responsible for the show’s first regeneration as William Hartnell became Patrick Troughton, and are still arguably the best execution of the species’ chilling concept to date. We know that these guys appear in the season finale – does their appearance lead to the demise of the twelfth Doctor as it did with the first?
At this point, things start to get really exciting. Just after we’re given an old-school Cyberman, we’re treated to a glimpse of a never-before-seen Ice Warrior. We’ve never met the female of the species before – are they more deadly than the male?
We briefly see Nardole trying to escape an explosion in what looks like it may be the TARDIS (check out the pillars behind him) – but what’s that in his hand? Why, it’s a sonic screwdriver. But not just any sonic screwdriver…
It’s only blummin’ Tom Baker’s sonic screwdriver. Has the Doctor given Nardole a hand-me-down?
Seconds later, we see Nardole catching it as it’s thrown to him, so it looks likely. Is he a mini wee Doctor in training? We’re yet to learn why the Doctor retrieved him from King Hydroflax’s body in “The Wedding of River Song” (again, sounds daft, makes perfect sense in the episode) – perhaps he saw something in him?“Nardole! Bill! With me! To the TARDIS!” Classic Who trailer line.
I’ve got chills. Has it really only been a year and a bit since the last series? Feels like forever…Doctor Who returns for Series Ten on April 15 – meaning you’ve got plenty of time to check out EMP’s out-of-this-world range of Doctor Who merchandise. From Funko Pop! figures of all your favourite characters to exclusive Doctor Who clothing unavailable anywhere else in the univ- okay, Europe, there’s something for everyone, whether old fan or new, human or Time Lord…