The 2017 “Doctor Who” Christmas special aired on December 25, and this one may have been the most historic ever because it ended with a series first. After 54 years — which for the title character has actually been a lifespan of about two millennia — the Doctor regenerated for the first time into a woman: Jodie Whittaker, who takes over from departing Doctor Peter Capaldi. Watch that climactic scene above.
The Christmas special, titled “Twice Upon a Time,” took place immediately after the season finale from July, when the Doctor sacrificed himself to save a colony ship from the Cybermen. But he didn’t want to regenerate, so he resisted the process and fled to the South Pole. There he encountered the first First Doctor, who was also resisting his very first regeneration. The First Doctor was originally played by William Hartnell, who died in 1975. This time he was portrayed by David Bradley, who actually appeared as Hartnell in a 2013 telefilm “An Adventure in Space and Time,” which told the story of the creation of the long-running series.
The stakes were high. If Capaldi’s 12th Doctor couldn’t convince his predecessor to regenerate, then it would threaten centuries of history. In doing so the 12th Doctor also convinced himself of the need to let go of his current form and accept the change. “I’ve got a few things to say to you,” he told his future self before regenerating. “Basic stuff first: never be cruel, never be cowardly … Remember, hate is always foolish, and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind … Laugh hard, run fast, be kind.”
So what did the Doctor have to say when he saw himself — er, herself — again for the first time? “Oh brilliant!” she said before the TARDIS malfunctioned and she was flung out of the time machine.