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Doctor Who season 13 — release date, cast, plot, rumours, trailer and more

Doctor Who Season 13 - promo image for Doctor Who: Flux
(Image credit: BBC Studios / Zoe McConnell)

After a long wait, the beloved sci-fi series made its return for a new adventure across space and time.

Doctor Who season 13, subtitled Doctor Who: Flux, introduced us to monsters and aliens old and new. Jodie Whittaker says this season is "bigger and better than ever" and promises "there'll be questions asked, there'll be answers, there'll be exclamation marks, and huge exclamation marks" throughout the series. 

It's hard to believe that season 13 has already come to an end, but here's everything you need to know about Doctor Who season 13...

'Doctor Who' season 13 release date

Doctor Who: Flux has now concluded. The series began on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 6:25 pm on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer and it ended on Sunday, Dec. 5 at in the same place. You can catch up with season 13 on BBC iPlayer (opens in new tab) in the UK.

The series concluded the same day at 8:00 pm EST on BBC America in the US and is now available to stream through BBC America via your cable provider and is expected to come to HBO Max in the near future. 

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How many episodes does 'Doctor Who' season 13 have?

The upcoming season of Doctor Who will be shorter than fans would want. Initially, Doctor Who season 13 was planned for an 11 episode run. Due to the impact of COVID-19, filming was delayed, and the new season was cut down to a shorter run of 6 episodes, with two specials to follow in 2022.

One of these specials will be the usual Doctor Who Christmas special 2021 (airing on New Year's Day), with the other following in Spring next year.

When the BBC revealed that Jodie Whittaker would be leaving earlier this year, they also announced that a third and final feature-length adventure had been commissioned to help celebrate the BBC's centenary next year. This extra episode will air in autumn 2022 and will see the next Doctor taking over.

MORE: Who will replace Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who?

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Who are the companions in 'Doctor Who' season 13?

Dan Lewis (played by John Bishop) is the latest companion to set foot in the TARDIS filling the hole that Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) left after the 2020 Christmas special. Dan is a kind-hearted man who wants to do his best to help, and it sounds like he really threw himself into his new role from the get-go! 

Speaking about his first day doing stunts on set, John told us: "Well the problem is, you've got to remember I was all excited about being on the TARDIS. Then on the first day, there was some movement of the TARDIS and they said 'throw yourself', so I literally threw myself around, and everyone went 'what are you doing? 

"There's no crash mat, we haven't got a stunt double, we haven't done a risk assessment!'. I said, 'well, every time I watch it, this is what happens', and they're going 'no, no, you just have to wobble, and the camera wobbles!'. 

"I have to be honest, there's so much more action than I was expecting..."

John Bishop as Dan, the new companion in Season 13 of "Doctor Who."

Dan Lewis (John Bishop). (Image credit: BBC/ James Pardon)

Jacob Anderson plays Vinder, a new character who has crossed paths with the Doctor multiple times this season.

Talking about his new character, Jacob has since said: "I really hope people like Vinder; as a fan of the show and as a fan of those characters that come in and recur and are part of the story beyond their singular story, there are some really iconic characters.

"Like River Song, and Osgood, and all these people you really remember, and I hope Vinder can be a part of that, I really hope people like him."

Doctor Who Season 13 - Vinder, played by Jacob Anderson

Vinder is a recurring character who's tangled up in all the action this season. (Image credit: BBC Studios/ Ben Blackall)

Doctor Who season 13 guest cast

Doctor Who season 13 was packed full of amazing guest stars!

Joining the Doctor, Yaz, Dan and Vinder are Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Downton Abbey), Thaddea Graham (The Irregulars, Us), Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners, A Very English Scandal), Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean, Designated Survivor, Downton Abbey), Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty, The English Game), Sara Powell (Unforgotten, Damned), Annabel Scholey (The Split, Britannia), Gerald Kyd (Cold Feet, Britannia) and Penelope Ann McGhie (The Crown, Harry Potter).

Doctor Who Season 13 - Craig Parkinson

Craig Parkinson plays a shady official from Vinder's past called the Grand Serpent. (Image credit: BBC)

On Oct. 20, even more stars were revealed for the new season! Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), Sam Spruell (The North Water), Steve Oram (The End of the F***ing World) Nadia Albina (Innocent), Jonathan Watson (Two Doors Down), Paul Broughton (Clink), and Coronation Street stars Sue Jenkins and Craige Els will all be putting in an appearance over the next six episodes.

Is there a trailer?

Yes! The trailer promised "one epic story" told over "six thrilling chapters", and made it look like the stakes would be higher than ever for the latest season of Doctor Who.

The biggest thing to note from the trailer is just how many baddies will be showing up over the six-episode season. Veterans viewers will recognize the Ood, Sontarans, Cybermen, and the Weeping Angels, but there are also new baddies like the axe-wielding Karvanista and the sheer power of the Flux as it tears through the galaxy. 

You can watch the action-packed trailer below:

'Doctor Who': Flux plot

If you're desperate to know what's going to happen in the latest season, we've now got a series synopsis for Doctor Who: Flux from the BBC.

It says: "Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson star in an epic six-part adventure which will take the Doctor and her friends to the edge of the universe and beyond, in a battle for survival. 

Packed with action, humour, terrifying new villains and iconic returning monsters such as the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels, the new series of Doctor Who tells one story across a vast canvas. It features a host of acclaimed British acting talent including Rochenda Sandall, Annabel Scholey, Craig Parkinson, Kevin McNally, Sam Spruell, Robert Bathurst, Steve Oram and Thaddea Graham. 

From Liverpool to the depths of space, via the Crimean war and a planet named Atropos which shouldn’t even exist, fighting old foes and new creatures from beyond our dimension, the Doctor and company face a race against (and through!) time to uncover a universe-spanning mystery: what is the Flux?"

What happened in episode one?

*major spoilers ahead*

Doctor Who: Flux kicked off with an explosive season premiere!  

We joined the Doctor and Yaz suspended above an acid sea. They’d been hunting a humanoid dog-faced alien called Karvanista, as the Doctor discovered he's the only living member of The Division, and she wants more answers about the shady organization and about her true identity as the Timeless Child.

Yaz and The Doctor manage to escape from Karvanista's traps and land in the TARDIS which has strangely begun to malfunction. Across the galaxy, an alien called Swarm breaks out of his containment chamber after being imprisoned for millennia; in a vision later in the episode, he contacts the Doctor and reveals they’ve done battle countless times before, but the Doctor doesn’t remember him.

On Earth, Liverpudlian Dan Lewis is captured by Karvanista and taken aboard his ship, and the Doctor and Yaz manage to track him down after encountering a woman called Claire who appears to know the Doctor already Claire is attacked by a Weeping Angel. 

The Doctor demands to know everything about The Division and what Karvanista and the rest of the Lupari are doing near Earth. Although he refuses to share info about the former, he explains he and the rest of the Lupari are actually there to save humanity from the Flux, not kidnap them.

At Observation Outpost Rose, far across the galaxy, Vinder's latest unexciting day is interrupted by the arrival of the Flux tearing through the fabric of the universe. He files a report about the Flux's destructive capabilities before making a last-minute escape.

Thirty trillion light-years away, the Sontarans pledge to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Flux, whilst Swarm manages to restore his sister to her true form on Earth. Having learned about the Flux from Karvanista, the Doctor orders him and the rest of Lupari to use their spaceships to form a protective barrier around the Earth to protect it.

After Swarm confronts the Doctor in a sort of vision, the Flux begins chasing the TARDIS instead of targeting Earth. The Doctor blasts it with vortex energy from the TARDIS, but it seems to do nothing to the Flux, leaving the Doctor wondering what to do to try and stop the end of the universe...

Doctor Who season 13 episode one - The Doctor, Yaz and Dan in the TARDIS

Will the Doctor figure out how to stop the Flux? (Image credit: BBC Studios/ James Pardon)

What happened in episode two?

In War of the Sontarans, we joined the trio waking up on what they learned was a battlefield near Sevastopol during the Crimean War after they were found by Mary Seacole. The Doc works out that blasting the Flux with vortex energy had catapulted her, Dan, and Yaz back in time, but something was wrong. The British soldiers weren't ready for a fight with Russian troops, but Sontarans!

Due to the reaction, Yaz and Dan begin to fade out of existence as they were sent elsewhere in time; Dan got sent back home to present-day Liverpool which is also overrun with Sontaran forces, and Yaz found herself transported to the Temple of Atropos on the planet Time, where she met Vinder.

The Doctor worked with Seacole to understand where the Sontarans had come from and (unsuccessfully) tried to prevent Lieutenant-General Logan from facing them in battle. Meanwhile, Dan's parents save him from being captured and help him get to Liverpool docks, where he makes his way aboard one of their spaceships.

In the Temple of Atropos, Vinder explains that the Temple Guardians (aka the Mouri) are broken, and that Time (which is a force that flows through the Temple) is destabilizing, and that they're being asked whether they can fix it. 

Dan makes contact with the Doctor; with the info he'd gathered in the present, the Doctor works out the Sontarans planned to conquer Earth by invading at multiple time periods right before the Lupari encircled the planet, and the pair resolve to stop the Sontarans in their respective time periods.

Karvanista arrives to rescue Dan at the last second, and the pair manage to hijack one ship and crash it into the others. Meanwhile, the Doctor gets the British troops to sabotage the Sontaran spaceships in 1855, but Logan rigs them to explode as they begin to retreat out of revenge for all his fallen troops earlier that day.

Back in the Temple, Swarm and his sister Azure arrive; Yaz and Vinder are captured by them and trapped in the place of the missing Mouri. When Dan and the Doctor set out to find Yaz, the TARDIS gets hijacked and arrives in the Temple, where the Doctor learns what's happening to Time itself, and Swarm threatens that he will force the full power of Time itself through Yaz's body, just as the credits rolled!

Doctor Who season 13 - Swarm and Azure

What are Swarm (centre) and Azure (right) planning? (Image credit: BBC Studios/James Pardon)

What happened in episode three?

*MASSIVE spoilers for Doctor Who season 13 ahead*

Once, Upon Time saw the Doctor thwarting Swarm's plan by taking the place of one of the Mouri and throwing herself and her companions into the heart of the Timestorm as the flow of time itself started to unravel.

With the help of the Mouri, the Doctor managed to hide her companions in their own respective timelines, although things weren't quite perfect for any of them as the time force itself was hunting down anomalies. Dan found the flow of time back in present-day Liverpool was very distorted, Vinder was forced to relive the moments that led to him being posted out in deep space at his observation post, and Yaz found herself being stalked by a weeping angel in Sheffield! 

The Doctor also relived a moment from her own past. She found herself about to lead an assault on the Temple of Atropos to capture the Ravagers (Swarm and Azure). The only problem? She couldn't remember this event at all, and found Dan, Yaz, and Vinder alongside her, wearing The Division's uniforms. 

Inside the temple, the Doctor saw her own reflection, learning that she was reliving a moment from the Fugitive Doctor's (Jo Martin) past! Her companions were stand-ins for her Division teammates (one of which was revealed to be Karvanista).

The Doctor and her team confront the Ravagers in the temple. The Mouri were trapped inside the form of one of their Passengers (essentially, humanoid prisons which can hold thousands of people inside) and were teleported inside the Temple to stabilize time in the past. Having lived through this event, Jodie's Doctor asks the Mouri to embed themselves in the present to restabilize time again!

The Mouri warn the Doctor that she cannot stay in the timestorm for much longer, and force her out. However, she found herself teleported somewhere else, encountering a strange woman. This mystery person tells the Doctor she's fighting a lost cause and that the ravagers are useful creatures. Shockingly, she also states that this universe is over, and reveals the Flux was a man-made catastrophe released because of the Doctor, before sending her back to the present!

With time restabilized a second time, the Ravagers reveal that they planned everything this way and brought the Doctor to the Temple on purpose. Although she repaired the time stream, particles of the time force had still been unleashed according to their plan, and they escaped.

Throughout the episode, we were also introduced to Bel (Thaddea Graham). Bel is Vinder's partner, and she has been trying to track him down all this time, avoiding the warring Dalek, Cyberman, and Sontaran forces in the process. She's also pregnant with their child. At the end of the episode, Vinder asked the Doc to take him home; finding the planet abandoned and ravaged by the Flux, he resolves to find her, and the Doctor leaves him a hotline to the TARDIS should he need her help again in the future.

It wasn't exactly plain sailing from there, though; the weeping angel that had been following Yaz then broke out of her phone and hijacked the TARDIS!

Doctor Who season 13 - Jodie's Doctor ready to confront the Ravagers in the past

The Doctor glimpsed her past with the Division in episode three... (Image credit: BBC Studios/ James Pardon)

What happened in episode four?

Village of the Angels saw the TARDIS materializing in the "cursed" village of Wedderton in 1967 after a Weeping Angel hijacked it. Claire Brown (the woman who bumped into the Doctor in episode one) has been having premonitions of the TARDIS and of Angels, and Professor Eustacius Jericho has been studying her behavior.

The Doctor follows her sonic screwdriver's signal to the Professor's home, Dan and Yaz go to help an elderly couple looking for a missing ten-year-old girl called Peggy. The Angels begin taking members of the town, and one of them attacks the two companions and sends them back to 1901, the first time everyone in the village disappeared. 

The Angels swarm the Professor's house whilst the Doctor tries to figure out what's happening to Claire. The three lock the Professor's home to slow Angels' assault. By making psychic contact with Claire, the Doctor finds an Angel has taken Claire as her Sanctuary. 

The Angel hiding inside Claire's mind reveals the other Angels work for The Division and are hunting it, not Claire. This rogue Angel fled The Division and has complete knowledge of the Division operations, and it brought the Doctor and co. to the village to try and secure safety in exchange for the knowledge about the Doctor's past that she wants so badly.

Yaz and Dan find Peggy in 1901. Peggy has been spared by the Angels for some reason, and shows the two companions that the village has been isolated out of space and time via "Quantum Extraction". Together they stumble across a rift which lets them see into 1967. There, they encounter a much older version of Peggy who grew up in the village and tried (unsuccessfully) to warn the future residents of the Angels' impending attack.

The Angels break into the home, and the Doctor and Claire escape via a tunnel in the basement, but the Professor is sent back to 1901. The Doctor is confused as to why she wasn't attacked by the Angels; when she emerges, she finds the whole Angel squad assembled around Claire. 

The rogue Weeping Angel had made a bargain with the others for its safety; in its place, the Angels would extract the Doctor instead. Yaz and Dan watched as the Doctor was transformed into an Angel statue for extraction.

Across the universe, Bel continued to search for Vinder and narrowly avoided being trapped inside a Passenger form by Azure on Pazano. Vinder eventually made his way to the same planet, finding a message Bel left behind for him.

Claire Brown and the Rogue Angel from Doctor Who season 13 episode 4

The Angel hiding inside Claire's mind holds all sorts of knowledge about the Doctor's time with the Division... (Image credit: BBC Studios/ James Pardon)

What happened in episode five?

*massive spoilers ahead!*

In the penultimate episode of Doctor Who season 13, Survivors of the Flux, the Doctor was returned to Division HQ by the Angels, where they were greeted by the mysterious woman from earlier in the series. This person turned out to be Tecteun, the person who first found the Timeless Child and took them to Gallifrey.

Tecteun, (who is currently the leader of Division) revealed that Division had been shaping world events as they saw fit, but they hated the Doctor for fleeing and classed them as a "virus". She also showed the Doctor that Division currently exists between the old, Flux-ravaged universe and a brand new one.

The Division manufactured and released the Flux to finally stop to the Doctor; they needed to destroy the current universe to protect their reputation and secrecy and to push their headquarters into the new universe. Whilst Tecteun briefly leaves the room, the Doctor tempts their Ood guard into showing them what's left of the universe on a map, and then the Doctor begins to form a plan to put a stop to the Division's plans. 

Tecteun offers to let the Doctor return to the old universe to try (and fail) to save the universe or to rejoin Division, regain her memories, and head to the new universe as part of the organization. The other end of the wormhole the Doctor fell through is apparently in that new universe; could that hold clues about the origins of the Timeless Child?

Meanwhile, the Lupari shield around Earth starts failing, and The Grand Serpent (Craig Parkinson) slips through the gap. At various points in time, he masquerades as a benefactor to maneuver his way into becoming the head of UNIT and kills people in his way. In 2017, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart confronts him; she's later forced to go dark after The Grand Serpent attempts to kill her, but she notifies Osgood.

Meanwhile, Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho have been trapped in the 20th Century for 3 full years since the Weeping Angels captured the Doctor. They've begun traveling the globe, trying to research the mystery of the end of the world.

On their travels, they track down a pot that contains the date of the end of the world in Mexico, are attacked by a man who bears a snake tattoo on his wrist, visit a jolly hermit in Nepal who tells them to make contact with Karvanista and end up crossing paths with Joseph Williamson. Williamson is an architect from 19th Century Liverpool who Dan and Yaz have both seen at different points in time; when they meet him properly, he shows the trio the Williamson tunnels under Liverpool, which contain doors to other realities.

Elsewhere, Karvanista recalls Bel's stolen Lupari ship to plug a hole in the shield around the earth and he boards the ship, demanding to know where she got the vessel. This happens just as Vinder arrives at Bel's last known location, and he's then promptly captured by Azure and Swarm. Inside a Passenger vessel, Vinder encounters Di, the woman Dan was meant to go for drinks with on Halloween. She clearly wants to settle the score with the Ravagers!

In the present, The Grand Serpent is revealed to have formed a pact with the Sontarans to allow them to get revenge on Earth, and they start appearing from deep space, and some break-in through Williamson's tunnels whilst The Grand Serpent has UNIT aim its weapon systems at the planet's surface.

Meanwhile, Azure and Swarm break into Division via a psycho-temporal bridge they'd built to the Doctor, using the energy they'd drawn from victims in the Passenger vessels. There, they begin to exact revenge on Division by murdering Tecteun, and looked set to do the same to the Doctor as the credits rolled!

Swarm (SAM SPRUELL), Azure (ROCHENDA SANDALL) in Doctor Who: Flux

Swarm and Azure have broken into Division HQ... but what are they up to?! (Image credit: BBC Studios/ James Pardon)

What happened in episode six?

*spoilers for the season finale of Doctor Who season 13*

Swarm manages to reach out to the Doctor but she manages to rip off her conversion plate in the process. This causes a reaction which splits the Doctor, allowing them to exist in multiple places and reunite with both her companions, Kate Stewart and Karvanista and Bel across space and time whilst still being able to confront the Ravagers.

The Sontarans occupy Earth and invite the surviving Dalek and Cybermen forces into an uneasy alliance to survive the final Flux event. Secretly, though, they plan to use the Flux to wipe out their enemies and become the superior alien species in the universe, protecting themselves behind the Lupari shield around the Earth. 

Swarm and Azure taunt the Doctor over their stolen memories that are locked in the pocket watch, and reveal their master plan is to watch as the being they worship (called Time) is released from his prison on Atropos. With power over the very fabric of space and time, they plan to keep the universe suspended in destruction, rewinding and watching it disintegrate over and over again as revenge for being imprisoned by the Division.

Sam Spruell as Swarm in the season finale of Doctor Who: Flux

Swarm and Azure tortured the Doctor in Division whilst the other Doctors split across reality worked to stop the Flux. (Image credit: BBC Studios/Sam Taylor)

The Doctors begin working towards stopping the Sontarans. Whilst one gets captured with Karvanista to allow Bel to sneak aboard the Sontaran ship and tap into the communication systems, another Doctor bribes a Sontaran with chocolate in exchange for installing two of their companions in Sontaran Psychic Command.

The Doctor goes back in time to rescue Claire Brown and then has the Sontaran officer install both Claire and Professor Jericho in the program as undercover operatives. Claire's pyschic abilities ultimately enable her to complete the Sontarans' task: to decode the coordinates of the final Flux event.

The imprisoned doctor is interrogated by the Grand Serpent, but the other Doctor arrives and rescues her. Meanwhile, Vinder works with Di to break out of the Passenger form they're trapped in, and he uses his communicator to contact the doctor who arrives and brings them aboard the TARDIS.

Together with the other companions, the two free Doctors plot to interfere with the Sontaran plan at the last second. One of the Sontarans bragged about killing off the rest of the Lupari, not knowing that Karvanista can remotely control the Lupari fleet, and will reconfigure the shield so that the Sontarans are also destroyed by the final Flux event, allowing him to get revenge for his people. Claire and Jericho were still on board the Sontaran ship; Claire escaped with her transmat ring, but Jericho's was damaged and he was left stranded, dying in the Flux event.

Kevin McNally as Professor Jericho.

Professor Eustacius Jericho made a last stand against the Sontaran threat. (Image credit: BBC Studios/James Pardon)

The Ood in Division tries to minimise the impact of the Flux's force, but its grown too powerful and it risks breaching the shield despite swallowing up the combined Cyberman, Dalek and Sontaran fleets. At Di's suggestion, the Doctor uses one of Azure and Swarm's Passenger vessels to contain the Flux.

Back in Division, the Ravagers take the Doctor to Atropos as a sacrifice to their deity, Time. They expect to unleash Time, but the Doctor's interference meant Time could not be freed. For their failure, Time disintegrates Swarm and Azure and restores the Doctor to a single person. It also gives the Doctor a troubling prophecy: "nothing is forever... no regeneration, no life. Beware the forces that mass against you, and their master."

The Grand Serpent tracks Kate Stewart to the Williamson Tunnels which are portals to other points in time, but she has teamed up with Vinder in order to capture him. They exile him to a lone asteroid out in space through door number seven and seal it behind him.

The TARDIS team all go their separate ways after saving the day. Karvanista heads out into space with Bel and Vinder (who were finally reunited in the TARDIS), Claire is brought back to the present day and Kate disappears after thanking the Doctor for saving everyone once again. Dan returns to the TARDIS after Di turns him down for another date, the Doctor and Yaz have a heart-to-heart, and then the Doc hides the fobwatch containing her old memories within the TARDIS, telling it to keep them safe and hidden for them "unless I really ask for it". Then, the trio set off for their next adventure!

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Who is the showrunner for Doctor Who season 13?

Series 13 isn't just Jodie Whittaker's last full outing as the Doctor, it's also Chris Chibnall's. 

When the news of Jodie's departure broke, the BBC also revealed that Chris Chibnall would be departing his role as Doctor Who showrunner at the same time. He'll still be in charge of the remaining episodes, but will be handing his role over to someone else after the final special airs in 2022. 

In September, we learned that Chris Chibnall would be replaced by Russell T. Davies! According to the announcement on the official Doctor Who website, Davies will "make an explosive return to screens to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who in 2023, and series beyond." 

Seasons 1-12 of modern Doctor Who are available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK right now, and US readers can find them on HBO Max (opens in new tab). You can also watch episodes of classic Who on BritBox (opens in new tab)

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.