Hot off the successful eighth season of Doctor Who, showrunner Steven Moffat has announced that star Peter Capaldi, aka the 12th Doctor, will return for Season 9.
It's not exactly surprising news. Season 8, the first to star Capaldi in the title role, was well-received by both critics and fans, and delivered record viewership numbers in both the U.K. and the U.S. In the meantime, Capaldi will appear as the Doctor on this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, set to air the night of December 25.
Almost nothing is known about the Christmas Special — not even its title has been announced yet — except that it guest stars Nick Frost as Santa Claus. That's right: the real, one-and-only Santa Claus. Or so we're meant to believe. This is Doctor Who, so things are very rarely what they appear to be. Jenna Coleman also returns for the Christmas Special as Clara Oswald.
While announcing Capaldi's return, what Moffat didn't mention — in an awfully conspicuous way — is Coleman's status regarding Season 9. There have been rumors for months suggesting that this year's Christmas Special would be Clara's swan song. Her absence from the Season 9 news could be because she isn't returning and Moffat wants to maintain a story surprise, or simply because the actress and the BBC haven't yet come to terms for a contract renewal.
Story-wise, Clara appears to be near the end of her character arc, so it feels like the logical time for the writers to finish her story. We should find out if that's the case on Christmas Day.