Gaiman to bring classic villain back to Doctor Who

The BBC has revealed some of the plot for the next Doctor Who Gaiman episode. Warning – spoilers inside.

We receibed confirmation last month that popular UK fantasy author Neil Gaiman would be returning to Doctor Who to pen the second to last episode of the current series (season), but lacked specific information as to what that episode would be about. Personally, I assumed he would bring us something entirely new.

Gaiman’s previous episode for the show, The Doctor’s Wife, is not only the most popular episode of the show in several magazine polls, but is the only episode of Doctor Who to have been nominated for a Hugo award.

The Doctor’s Wife was so original, and included so few elements of previous lore, that I’m surprised he’s decided to use an existing villain: The Cybermen.

According to the BBC run Doctor Who production blog, in this episode the doctor will encounter a “band of misfits on a mysterious planet” whom he will then have to save from Cybermen. The band of misfits will be played by a small who’s who of young British genre actors: Warwick Davis (Harry Potter), Tamzin Outhwaite (Hotel Babylon) and Jason Watkins (Being Human UK).

The one of those three that American audiences are most likely to recognize – though he’s usually covered in too much make-up or costuming to see – is Davis, who – besides recently playing Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter films has had supporting roles in Merlin, Return of the Jedi, Labyrinth, The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and all of the recent  Narnia films. He also played the title role in Willow and all 6 Leprechaun films.

The episode will be directed by Doctor Who veteran Stephen Woolfenden, who was also second unit director on the last three Harry Potter films.

 “Cybermen were always the monsters that scared me the most!” Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, told the magazine. “Not just because they were an awesome military force, but because sometimes they could be sleek and silver and right behind you without you even knowing. And with one of the all-time classic monsters returning, and a script from one of our finest novelists, it’s no surprise we have attracted such stellar names as Tamzin, Jason and Warwick.”

The second half of the series begins in the new year, but in between we’ll have the holiday episode which is slated to air on December 25, 2012. A Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special will also arrive sometime in 2013, but the series will be on hiatus after that until Fall 2014, when series 8 will be split across the new year, similar to this season.