At least ten million people in Great Britain tonight are expected to watch "Journey's End", the season finale of Doctor Who. Last week's episode "The Stolen Earth" ended with the biggest cliffhanger in the show's nearly half-century of history: The Doctor (currently played by David Tennant) was shot clean through the chest by a Dalek. And then, with Donna and Rose and Captain Jack watching, he began to regenerate.
If Tennant is leaving the show and another actor is about to take his place as The Doctor - a very big deal and something that has happened 9 times already since the show began in 1963 - then it will go down as one of the greatest coups of recent times, and nothing short of a marvel that the BBC was able to keep it under such tight wraps.
All week, it's been the biggest topic of discussion among our Brittish brethren. Major betting houses have been taking wagers and laying odds on what happens tonight: does The Doctor regenerate into a new form? If so, who will be the new actor... or even actress... to take the role? Robert Carlyle and James Nesbitt have been huge favorites but Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) is said to be in the running also, along with Hugh Grant.
Of course, that's all subject to David Tennant's Doctor fully regenerating into a new body, and this all not being one of current showrunner Russell T. Davies's famous tricks. But if it is, it's a darned good one.
Fellow Doctor Who fan Mark Goodacre spots a treasure trove of media madness about tonight's episode, and offers his perspective as a British fan living abroad (here in North Carolina, even). Worth checking out.
And I suspect that around 2:30 p.m. this afternoon, the Internet is going to melt down from all the American fans trying to download "Journey's End" :-P