Doctor Who will return later this year in a long-awaited eleventh season (since its modern reboot, that is), heralding the arrival of a new Doctor, a new showrunner, and an even bigger first: a female star.

The BBC is notoriously secretive about its flagship sci-fi series, and series 11 is no exception. Still, we've gleaned together everything we can, and here's what we know so far about the upcoming series of Doctor Who.

When does it start?

So far the BBC has stayed mum on a specific launch date for season 11 in the UK (or anywhere else, for that matter) but has confirmed that it will air in Autumn 2018, which is obviously a fairly broad spread of time.

A photo taken from a BBC Worldwide Showcase event included a note that the show would 'deliver' in October 2018, which led to plenty of fans assuming that would be when the show airs - but don't be so certain. That's apparently BBC Worldwide terminology for when a show is completed and ready to be distributed to foreign broadcasters - so while we can probably be confident we won't see new Doctor Who before October, the series could in fact start airing after October.

In the meantime though, you've got plenty of time to catch up on older episodes. That's helped by the BBC's decision to add every single episode of the show since 2005 - including all the specials - to the iPlayer streaming service, announcing that they'll stay online until at least the season 11 finale. That means you get every episode from every Doctor from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, without paying a penny.

Will there be a Christmas special?

Here's something that may tie into those release date rumours: right now, the BBC hasn't announced if there will be a Christmas special this year (which has been a Doctor Who tradition since its relaunch), only officially confirming a 10-episode order for the main series. 

However, if the show doesn't start airing until October, its main run could take it very close to Christmas anyway, so the Beeb could choose to time one of its episodes (the finale, we'd bet) for Christmas Day, tying some Christmassy content into the main plot.

If it did air the finale for Christmas - and otherwise aired one episode a week on Saturdays, as per normal - that would see the show premiering on October 27th, which sounds pretty plausible to us.

Who are the Doctor and companions?

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you've probably already heard the biggest news about the new season (or, uh, already read it in our intro): this year, for the first time ever, the Doctor will be played by a woman.

Jodie Whittaker is the woman taking on the honour. If you're not familiar with the name, you might know her from detective drama Broadchurch or her role in one early Black Mirror episode, although she's had plenty of other British TV and film roles over the years. You can get a good look at her in costume from a few different angles in these officially releases stills from the upcoming series:

Doctor Who season 11 stills

She won't be the only new face in the Tardis though, as she'll be joined by not one, not two, but three new companions: Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill. Unfortunately, we don't know much about them beyond character names (Graham, Ryan, and Yasmin respectively) but going by those we can at least guess they're probably playing humans. Sharon D. Clarke is also set to have a recurring role in the series as Graham's wife.

A leaked clip from the first episode shows off the Doctor's first meeting with Ryan and Yasmin - we won't link to the clip here, but it is still available online, despite the BBC's best efforts to take it offline. The BBC has even filed an application with a California court to find out who leaked the unfinished clip, suggesting it's taking the matter pretty seriously.

There's change behind the camera too though, with a new showrunner in charge. Steven Moffat stepped down together with the departure of Peter Capaldi, after running the show since 2009, and has been replaced by Chris Chibnall.

If you don't recognise his name, you might also know it from Broadchurch - he's the guy in charge of that other hit BBC show, so it all makes sense. He's not totally new to Doctor Who though, as he previously wrote five episodes of the show between 2007 and 2015, starting with 42.

There's one final big change: longtime composer Murray Gold has also departed the show, having worked on Doctor Who ever since its 2005 reboot. He'll be replaced by up-and-coming talent Segun Akinola, a member of BAFTA's 2017 'Breakthrough Brit' program, whose work has so far mostly soundtracked short films and documentaries. He'll be composing all of the new season's incidental music, along with the new take on the iconic theme tune.

How can you watch season 11 in the US?

Obviously Doctor Who is a British show, but in recent years BBC America has been better about airing the show as close as it can to the British air date, to minimise piracy. We still don't even have a UK release date, so don't know for sure what the US schedule will look like, but expect episodes to air either the same day or the next.

If that's still too much of a gap, and you want to watch episodes as they air live in the UK, you can use a VPN to stream episodes on iPlayer as if you were in the UK. Bear in mind that this is a breach of the iPlayer terms of use, since you won't be paying the licence fee, but it will let you watch new episodes the moment us Brits get to.

That's also what you'll have to do if you want to take advantage of the BBC's to decision to add every episode of the show's modern era so far to iPlayer - so grab a VPN if you know you've missed a few and want to catch up.

Watch the trailers

The BBC has released a few different clips to promote season 11 of the show, but we'll get straight to the main thing you want to watch: the first official trailer for the series, unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con:

That was the first actual official footage from season 11, but before that the BBC gave us a few other teasers and clips to enjoy. The first is the tease that revealed Jodie Whittaker to the world as the Doctor, first aired immediately after the Wimbledon men's final in 2017:

If that's not enough for you, the BBC uploaded the last few minutes of Peter Capaldi's final episode, last year's Christmas special, which includes his regeneration and Whittaker's first few minutes in the role:

We also have the first official teaser for season 11, aired during the World Cup final, but it doesn't feature any actual footage from the show itself, only footage filmed for the brief teaser:

Plot and story rumours

Right now, we know very little about Chibnall's plot plans for the show, which is expected to follow Doctor Who tradition and explore a different story each week.

We do know a little about one of those plots though: acclaimed actor Alan Cumming admitted that he'll be playing Scottish monarch King James I in one episode, adding that he'll be a "baddie", which is pretty much par for the course for royalty in the show.

The secrecy so far is very much on purpose, as Chibnall explained at the show's Comic-Con panel:

"I think there's a lot of new things this year. There's new worlds, there's new characters, there's lots of new guest characters. New dialogue, new camera angles," he said. "It's really so that we can get it to you guys and everyone else in the world at the same time all polished. … I really love television when it's a communal experience … I want you guys to all be talking about it at the same time, and we have things you're not going to want to be spoiled for."

That panel did at least reveal one specific detail: the design of the new sonic screwdriver, which looks strangely organic this time around. Does that mean the Tardis control room could have a similar redesign? Here's a better look at it: