The upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special is stuffed like a yuletide turkey with tons of things of interest for fans. Peter Capaldi is going to regenerate into Jodie Whittaker, David Bradley’s First Doctor will be teaming up with the Twelfth and former companions Pearl Mackie and Jenna Coleman are set to have cameos. Last but least, fan favourite Mark Gatiss will also be appearing in a guest role that’s been shrouded in mystery… Perhaps, that is, until now.
As is clear in the trailer (see above), Gatiss is playing a British officer in World War I who somehow gets swept up in an adventure with the two Doctors. Other than that, the only thing we officially know is that he’s being credited as “The Captain.” Previous theories that fans came up with for his true identity included a Time Lord and the father of the Brigadier, a recurring character from the classic series.
As relayed by Radio Times, though, a new rumour is doing the rounds that seems a lot more believable. According to this theory, Gatiss is not playing a figure from Doctor Who mythology but rather, a historical person who indirectly created arguably the show’s most iconic element. His name is Gilbert McKenzie-Trench, an architect who worked with the Metropolitan police. His most notable design for them was the blue Police Box, first introduced to England’s streets in 1929, which later inspired the look of the TARDIS when Doctor Who arrived in 1963.
As a younger man, McKenzie-Trench fought in the First World War – which would be where the Christmas special comes in. In the trailer, Gatiss even comments on the TARDIS’ appearance: “These Police Boxes are ever so good, aren’t they?” That has to be a hint at the character’s identity, right? If this is true, that means that, in the Doctor Who world, Trench would have got his design of the Police Box from the TARDIS itself. Time-wimey!
The icing on the cake is that Gatiss has been done up to look practically identical to the real McKenzie-Trench. Just check out the comparison of the two in the image below:
I don’t know about you, but colour me convinced. This seems like just the sort of nerdy detail that Steven Moffat is always inserting into his scripts. Seeing as this will be his final Doctor Who episode before he hands the keys over to Chris Chibnall, he probably wanted to include one last nod to the show’s history prior to leaving.
Doctor Who‘s Christmas special arrives on BBC One/America on Christmas Day.