Doctor Who giveth, and Doctor Who taketh away. As fans count down the days until New Year's special "Revolution of the Daleks" premieres, the show announces that two members of the TARDIS crew will be leaving the cast following after the holiday installment.
Given that rumors were swirling throughout Season 12 that the TARDIS crew was headed for a major shake-up, most fans probably aren't that shocked by the official confirmation that stars Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole will be exiting the series following "Revolution of the Daleks". In truth, it's something that feels like it's been coming for a while now. (Cole's character Ryan has expressed concern multiple times about the way his real life is slipping away from him while he's on adventures with the Doctor onscreen several times.)
And as much as fans have enjoyed the trio of Graham, Ryan, and Yaz, Doctor Who has struggled with the three-companion format and often failed to give these characters anything that might be called individual arcs or emotional interiority. While Graham and Ryan's relationship was a cornerstone of Jodie Whittaker's first season as the Doctor, the pair largely faded into the background of Season 12. And the show has yet to really figure out what to do with Mandip Gill's Yaz - which is, at least, something the show will now have the chance to correct if she will indeed be the last companion standing.
To be fair, there's something wildly appealing about the prospect of an all-female team in the TARDIS - it's something the show's never done before, and it's a relationship dynamic that Doctor Who has never really explored in the past. Multiple companion groups, when they existed in the past, tended to be fairly gender-balanced and since the Doctor herself had been a man up until her Thirteenth incarnation, there just wasn't a lot of opportunity for women interacting with solely or even primarily other women. This would be a totally new kind of first.
This is, of course, all assuming that Walsh and Cole won't be replaced in the cast, but it's doubtful we'll get any official word on that one way or another before the holiday special airs. At least fans will still have one feature-length adventure with Graham and Ryan before they leave the TARDIS behind, although "Revolution of the Daleks" seems set to be a fairly intense hour.
"It is very, very dramatic," Walsh said in a BBC interview. "It is very sad. It is quite sad and poignant is the word. You can expect a lot of poignancy from the episode."
The official synopsis promises plenty of action and high stakes.
Viewers last saw the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of season 12, where her fate was left hanging in the balance as she was locked away in a high-security alien prison with no hope of escape. In the upcoming New Year's Day special, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham are far away on Earth and having to carry on with their lives without her. However, they soon discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek without the Doctor? Even with Captain Jack's help, the gang are set to face one of their biggest and most frightening challenges yet.
“I hope that it feels like a good send-off for those two characters, whatever happens to them,” series showrunner Chris Chibnall told the Radio Times about the pair's exit. “I can tell you that it’s very emotional."
"We’ve all been in tears watching it," he said. "It’s a really important part of the mix of the special where you get lots of thrills, lots of spills, lots of humor, lots of Daleks, and lots of emotion."
How do you feel about this casting announcement - and where do you think Doctor Who will go next? Let's discuss in the comments.