Doctor Who Season 10 may still be a while from actually hitting the airwaves, but production is gearing up to begin shooting the continued adventures of Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor. Before today, the only other established character announced to return was Missy, a.k.a. Michelle Gomez's iteration of The Master, but now it's official that viewers will also see the return of Nardole, a supporting character from last year's Christmas special, "The Husbands of River Song."
It was announced today that Bridesmaids star Matt Lucas will reprise Nardole for the opening episode of Doctor Who Season 10, which begins filming in Cardiff on June 20. Reuniting with the Twelfth Doctor and meeting his new companion, Bill (played by Pearl Mackie), for the first time, Lucas' Nardole will have a recurring role throughout the season. The episode is being written by showrunner Steven Moffat, and it was also revealed that Sherlock actor Stephanie Hyam will have a guest cast role this season.
Of all the previous characters who could have been announced to return for Doctor Who Season 10, Nardole is definitely an unusual choice. It's not just because he seemed for like a one-off character during his debut appearance, but also because when we last saw him he wasn't exactly himself. As a refresher, Nardole was introduced in "The Husbands of River Song" as River Song's assistant in the human colony Mendorax Dellora, which might as well have been nicknamed "Christmas Town." Later during the episode, Nardole was captured by the Hydroflax's mechanical body, and his head was inserted within. By the end of the adventure, Nardole was sharing the robotic body with Ramone, one of River's "husbands," but the body was no longer set on attacking everyone in its sight, and the two men were instead serving as a waiter at the restaurant near the Singing Towers on Darillium.
Because Nardole didn't recognize the Twelfth Doctor in "The Husbands of River Song," we can assume Lucas isn't playing a past version of the character in his future appearances. So unless the BBC is dropping money to show off the giant robot body in every one of his episodes, we can presume that he's been freed from its confines and either returned to his original body or been given a new one. From there, it's hard to say how exactly he'll be incorporated into Doctor Who Season 10, but if he's lucky, he'll get to travel around in the TARDIS rather than just hang out with The Doctor and Bill in just one setting.
Doctor Who Season 10 is scheduled to premiere sometime in early 2017, but fans can look forward to another Christmas special airing in its usual spot this December on BBC America.