Could “big news soon” and an eight-word title be a hint to the return of Paul McGann?

If you thought Peter Harness and Steven Moffat’s 2017 episode The Pyramid at the End of the World was a long title for Doctor Who, you’re about to be hit by another eight-worder, it seems.

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has teased another eight-word titled episode on the way in his Letter from the Showrunner column in Doctor Who Magazine, also saying that there will be “big news soon.”

But what could the big news be, and how is it connected to an eightword title?

Some fans have immediately jumped on the news to suggest it could be a hint that Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor might be about to make a return to the TV series, perhaps as part of the 60th-anniversary celebrations in 2023. Or could it be a hint that there is going to be an Eighth Doctor spin-off show? When asked recently, Doctor Who fans listed catching up with Eight among some of their favourite spin-off ideas.

McGann, who starred as the Eighth incarnation of the Time Lord in the TV movie in 1996 has returned to the show on-screen briefly on a number of occasions since his time in the movie and remains popular among fans who would like to see more stories from his Doctor.

In 2013, McGann reprised his role as Eight in the mini-episode The Night of the Doctor, where he was finally, many years on given a regeneration scene where he regenerates into the War Doctor, played by John Hurt. In 2022, McGann made his first appearance in a regular episode of Doctor Who for 26 years when he was briefly part of the multi-Doctor extravaganza of The Power of the Doctor. Jodie Whittaker’s final episode as the Doctor coincided with the 100th birthday of the BBC and saw McGann appear alongside other classic-era Doctors and returning companions.

McGann has also continued the Eighth Doctor’s adventures in Big Finish audio stories over the years with a trailer for Connections recently released, and the character has appeared in comic books and novels – but many fans are keen to see him back on the screen after a brief taste of Eight in The Power of the Doctor.

We know that there are three one-hour-long episodes of Doctor Who arriving on our screens in November 2023 and that they already have returning characters involved, most notably David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor. We also know that Catherine Tate will reprise her role as Donna Noble and Neil Patrick Harris will star as an enemy and Yasmin Finney will play a character called Rose.

When discussing why more modern Doctors and companions weren’t involved in The Power of the Doctor, Chris Chibnall said “I didn’t want to tread on anything that might be happening in future, so those ones felt the right ones.”

Now, although McGann was in The Power of the Doctor, his unique position as a crossover between classic Who and rebooted Who would certainly make him a candidate for a turn on screen in both.

When asked about a return for the 60th-anniversary specials in May, before The Power of the Doctor had been screened, McGann said: “It’s my guess, that most of us who are still around will be asked to get involved, and that’s how it should be – because the fans like it that way.”

It could of course be completely unconnected, and the big news might be that the title of the episode is big, but that won’t stop fans from speculating in space and time while we wait for season 14 with Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson to come around.