Doctor Who Special 3, "The Giggle," featured a new character called The Vlinx, who will be back with some key changes in the upcoming 2024 episodes. But who is U.N.I.T.'s newest high-tech alien assistant?
Introduced in 1968 in a story with the 2nd Doctor, the Unified Intelligence Taskforce (U.N.I.T.) has been a recurring feature of Doctor Who ever since. The group often appears to assist the Doctor and recruit his services in alien threats to Earth.
Doctor Who's The Vlinx Explained
The Vlinx was introduced in Special 3, "The Giggle," as a genius robotic lifeform and a mainstay of the U.N.I.T. headquarters, and showrunner Russell T. Davis has already promised a bright future ahead for the new character.
The Vlinx introduced itself to the Doctor as the inventor of the Zeedex - the wristbands worn by U.N.I.T. to protect themselves from the Toymaker's influence:
KATE: "We call it the Zeedex."
VLINX: "An invention of the Vlinx."
DOCTOR: "Hello, the Vlinx. I'm the Doctor. So why is it called a Zeedex."
VLINX: "Good name."
Speaking in the official video commentary for "The Giggle" on BBC iPlayer, Russell T. Davis, producer Phil Collinson, and 14th Doctor actor David Tennant discussed Vlinx's future and offered more details on its backstory.
After Tennant asked if the Vlinx is poised to become a "recurring character" going forward, Davis promised he will appear again "in the future" and will be "slightly upgraded" from as he was seen this time:
TENNANT: "Is the Vlinx a recurring character?"
DAVIS: "You will see the Vlinx in the future, slightly upgraded from what..."
Collinson offered a little more detail on the Vlinx's backstory in the commentary, saying his debut appearance comes from just after U.N.I.T. has "fished him out of the wreckage of a spaceship:"
COLLINSON: "Well, I think this is the Vlinx when they've just fished him out of the wreckage of a spaceship."
TENNANT: "Vlinx is on a journey."
COLLINSON: "He's been polished up."
With the promise of a "journey" and "slight [upgrades]" to come for the Vlinx, the character will be seeing some changes by the time he comes back, likely in the new 2024 season where U.N.I.T. will make its return.
The physical elements of the Vlinx were brought to life by Aidan Cook, who has worn the prosthetics and make-up for several Doctor Who monsters in the past including the Zygons and Cybermen.
Meanwhile, the Vlinx was voiced by Doctor Who mainstay Nicholas Briggs, who has served as the voice of many iconic aliens, most famously the Daleks and Cybermen, since the show returned after a long hiatus in 2005.
U.N.I.T. & Vlinx's Massive Doctor Who Future Explained
U.N.I.T. has already been confirmed to return to Doctor Who next year in the 2024 season. Kate Stewart is once again expected to be involved as set photos pictured her sitting at a table with Millie Gibson's new companion, Ruby Sunday.
The alien-hunting organization has long been a recurring element of Doctor Who, and the Vlinx will seemingly become a key asset in their work. One has to wonder what upgrades the Vlinx may be getting next season, perhaps it will be able to move or have some weapon systems next time it shows up.
Not only will U.N.I.T. appear in 2024's Season 14 (expected to go by Season 1 as the show resets its numbering), but Deadline reported that it will also serve as the focus of a brand-new spin-off led by Jemma Redgrave's Kate Stewart. The same report noted she may also feature in this year's upcoming Christmas Day special.
As U.N.I.T. becomes a more important piece of the Whoniverse puzzle than ever, fans can look forward to seeing plenty more of the Vlinx. With only a minor role in "The Giggle," the Vlinx certainly felt placed to lay the groundwork for a bigger future for the character, hopefully with plenty more upgrades in future episodes.
Doctor Who's 60th anniversary specials are streaming now on Disney+ in most territories and exclusively on BBC iPlayer in the UK & Ireland. The show will return for a festive special on Christmas Day and a brand-new season in early 2024.