Doctor Who has celebrated its 56th birthday by dropping the first trailer for the new season, teasing dark times are ahead for our heroes.

Jodie Whitaker returns as the titular Doctor for her second season manning the Tardis, and is joined once again by her Yorkshire companions Graham (The Chase's Bradley Walsh), Yasmin (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole).

They are joined in the action-packed trailer by a plethora of guest stars, including Stephen Fry, ER actor Goran Visnjic and Sir Lenny Henry, who is seen shooting out of a car window in the direction of The Doctor.

A number of monsters are highlighted as well. After the last season focused entirely on new creatures, the trailer sees the return of the rhino-headed Judoon, the Rancoos from David Tennant's era, and a rusted, battered Cyberman.

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New enemies include a glowing scorpion seen chasing the cast through cobbled streets, and a swarm of bats that engulfs the Tardis.

While no specific plot details were revealed, the trailer teases a looming threat that has The Doctor shaken.

"Something's coming for me," she says. "I can feel it."

Over shots of the cast crying, Graham is heard asking "What have you brought here, Doctor?"

"I don't know," she answers.

The teaser suggests a return to the overarching storylines that were a key part of previous seasons of the show.

When current writer Chris Chibnall took over from Steven Moffatt, he told Digital Spy that he wanted the show to appeal to new fans.

"What we want is for people to feel like we've got the range and variety of Doctor Who this year," he said in July 2018.

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However, the lack of a season-long storyline was criticised by fans and reviewers alike.

IndieWire's Liz Shannon Miller wrote after the 11th season's finale that there was an "absence of narrative thrust and, more importantly, strong characters arcs".

The trailer suggests Chibnall has changed course, but fans will have to wait until the 12th season premieres in early 2020 to find out for certain.

Here, the show screens on TVNZ.

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