In Depth

Doctor Who finale teaser: 'Will the future be a girl?'

Did Peter Capaldi hint that the Time Lord may change gender for the next series?

Doctor Who ended with a major cliffhanger and a tantalising hint about who could be the next Time Lord.

The hour-long final episode, ominously titled The Doctor Falls, is the last of the regular series to feature Peter Capaldi as the time traveller, although he will appear in the Doctor Who Christmas special at the end of the year.

In it, the Doctor undermined the Master's (and Missy's) evil plans and blew up a group of Cybermen, but not before being wounded, possibly fatally. After being laid down in the Tardis by his assistant Bill (Pearl Mackie) – who herself was rescued from her eerie fate as Cyber-Bill – the wounded Doctor regained consciousness and started to regenerate.

In the final moments, Bill stepped forward to tackle a threat emerging from a black hole. The Master then asked: "Will the future be all girl?" Doctor Who replied: "We can only hope."

Jack Shepherd in The Independent says attention has now turned to one question above all others: "Who will replace Capaldi as the Doctor?"

Following the "Will the future be a girl?" line, says the critic, "viewers immediately jumped on the quotes", believing them to be a "not-so-subtle reference to the Doctor regenerating as a woman next time around".

Shepherd notes that Twitter was "split on the callout", with some believing the iconic character should remain male, while others praised the idea, which has been discussed multiple times over the years.

Michael Hogan, in the Daily Telegraph, says that "speculation is rife" about who will be filling Capaldi's "sci-fi frock coat and time- travelling boots". Many are convinced, says the critic, that following the "we can only hope" line, that the new Doctor will be a woman.

Hogan makes a list of contenders, topped by Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who is working on the Han Solo film. Other possibilities include Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw and Death in Paradise's Kris Marshall.

Hanh Nguyen on IndieWire focuses on the sadness of the regeneration process, saying she was shocked at "how horrifying it was to hear the Doctor plead, ‘I don’t want to change again’.”

The critic remarks that Doctor Who's "weariness about these changes reveals how a long life may not be worth the psychological costs". Nevertheless, says Nguyen: "Everything is teed up for a pretty eventful Christmas episode."

A final tantalising caption at the end of The Doctor Falls promised viewers that “The Doctors will return at Christmas”, fuelling anticipation of the special on 25 December.

While much-loved writer Steven Moffat and actor Peter Capaldi are clocking off from their Doctor Who duties, the future will certainly be interesting, if not female.

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