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Season 40 (60th Anniversary Specials)
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General Information

Season Start:25 November 2023
Season End:09 December 2023
Season Length:3 Weeks
Writer:Russell T Davies
Directors:Chanya Button, Rachel Talalay and Tom Kingsley
Producer:Vicki Delow
Executive Producers:Jane Tranter, Joel Collins, Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and Russell T Davies
Production Executive for BBC Studios:John Hamer
Executive Producer for the BBC:Rebecca Ferguson
Commissioning Editor for the BBC:Lindsay Salt
Script Supervisors:Lucy Dews and Ruth Vickers
Script Editor:Scott Handcock
Visual Effects:Automatik VFX, Realtime Visualisation and Untold Studios
Special Effects:Real SFX
Title Sequence:Painting Practice & Realtime Visualisation
Title Music:Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Arranged by Murray Gold
Incarnation of the Doctor: The Fourteenth Doctor (Returns)
Other Incarnations of the Doctor: The Fifteenth Doctor (Newly Regenerated)
Number of Companions: 2
The Companions: Melanie Bush (Rejoins and Departs) and Donna Noble (Rejoins and Departs)
Number of Stories: 3
Number of Incomplete/Missing Stories: 0
Number of Episodes: 3
Number of Incomplete/Missing Episodes: 0
 Full Stories Held  100%
 Episodes Held  100%

Television Stories

No. Title Number of Episodes Production Code Status
301 The Star Beast160th-1All Held
302 Wild Blue Yonder160th-2All Held
303 The Giggle160th-3All Held

Audience Appreciation

Average Viewers (Millions) 7.2
The Best StoryThe Star Beast (7.6)
The Worst Story The Giggle (6.8)
The Star Beast (7.6)Wild Blue Yonder (7.1)The Giggle (6.8)

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The Villains

Not-Things (Wild Blue Yonder), The Meep (The Star Beast) and The Toymaker (The Giggle)

Quote of the Season

 'Funny thing is, I fought all those battles for all those years. And now I know what for. This! I've never been so happy in my life…'

The Doctor
(The Giggle)

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A Seasonal Summary

The Doctor and Donna
The Doctor and Donna
This mini-season was made up of three hour-long specials that were broadcast as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations in November 2023. All three specials were written by Russell T Davies and directed by: Rachel Talalay, Tom Kingsley and Chanya Button.

These specials began a new era of the programme as former showrunner and Executive Producer Russell T Davies made his return to the role he effectively started when the show was revived in 2005.

Russell T Davies' initial run began with the first story of the revived era of the show, in the 2005 Ninth Doctor story "Rose", and ended in 2010 with the Tenth Doctor's regeneration in "The End of Time". Thirteen years later, Russell T Davies' second era commenced at the end of the 2022 special story "The Power of The Doctor" when, in the story's closing moments, the Thirteenth Doctor regenerated into the Fourteenth Doctor - as played by David Tennant and so an incarnation that looked virtually identical to the Tenth Doctor.

As well the return of David Tennant to the role of the Fourteenth Doctor, Catherine Tate also reprised her role as former companion Donna Noble, with: Bernard Cribbins, Jacqueline King and Karl Collins returning as: Wilfred Mott, Sylvia Noble and Shaun Temple, respectively. In addition, several new cast members were prominently featured, including Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble and Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker - in what has been described as ‘the greatest enemy The Doctor has ever faced’.

Bernard Cribbins passed away shortly after completing filming in July 2022 - meaning his return to the show was regrettable short (appearing only at the very end of the second story "Wild Blue Yonder").

The Toymaker has made only one previous television appearance - 57 years ago, in the 1966 First Doctor story "The Celestial Toymaker", where this character was played by Michael Gough. However, The Toymaker was last mentioned as recently as 2020, in the Thirteenth Doctor story "Can You Hear Me?".

It was confirmed that Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (played by Jemma Redgrave) and UNIT are back and that Miriam Margolyes will play the voice of The Meep in the first story "The Star Beast".

Rachel Talalay returned to direct the first story while Tom Kingsley (who directed the second story) and Chanya Button (who directed the third story) are both newcomers to the show. Vicki Dellow produced all three stories with Ellen Marsh co-producing.

This season marked a huge change as the production of the show by the BBC became a collaboration with Bad Wolf (a production company founded by Russell T Davies' former Doctor Who collaborators Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter). This marked a change in studio-location, with the new studio, Wolf Studios, taking over from Roath Lock Studios as the company for in-house filming. Another change was a deal was struck between the BBC and Disney to have the show streaming on Disney+.

Filming began for the 60th Anniversary specials in Wolf Studios in Wales on the 3rd May 2022 - with location filming taking place: in the London Borough of Camden; near Wembley Stadium Wembley, London; Uskmouth Power Station, Newport, Wales; Axminster Road, Cardiff and various locations in Bristol (including: Old City, St Stephens Street, Broad Street, Clare Street, Baldwin Street, Marsh Street and Corn Street). Filming then continued again at Wolf Studios which ended on the 25th July 2022.

The large gap between the broadcast of "The Power of The Doctor" (Jodie Whittaker’s final story that was broadcast on the 23rd October 2022) and the first of the 60th anniversary specials (released on the 25th November 2023), meant that there was no Winter Special in 2022 - marking the first time, since the tradition began in 2005, that a Winter Special has been omitted.

This new season, and Russell T Davies' return, were first teased by BBC’s Director of Drama Piers Wenger at the Edinburgh TV Festival on the 25th August 2021 when he is reported as saying ‘As with any change of Doctor and showrunner, we’ll be radical. Change is ahead’.

Russell T Davies’ return to the show occurred in a big reveal, by the BBC on the 24th September 2021. Following this announcement Russell T Davies said that he was ‘beyond excited’ to be returning to the show but that he would remain a viewer for the rest of Jodie Whittaker's run. Former Head Writer Chris Chibnall said that it was fitting that ‘one of Britain's screenwriting diamonds’ would be returning to Doctor Who for the 60th anniversary.

Speaking at a press event on the 11th October 2021, Piers Wenger said the decision for Russell T Davies to return ‘was one of the least painful decisions I've ever had to make’ and that Russell T Davies is ‘a man with a vision, for sure’, but that it was way off for the time being, that they had ‘a whole year of Jodie Whittaker to go yet. And lots of adventures ahead for her’.

On the 22nd December 2021, Russell T Davies told The Guardian newspaper that he had already written a couple of stories for the new era and confirmed that his first story would go out in November 2023, for the 60th anniversary.

Despite Ncuti Gatwa being officially announced as the ‘New Doctor’ on the 8th of May 2022, a further BBC announcement 7 days later revealed that David Tennant and Catherine Tate would first be reprising their roles of The Doctor and Donna Noble in the 60th anniversary specials.

On the 23rd June 2022, Russell T Davies spoke to Doctor Who Magazine for issue 579 about the upcoming specials, teasing possibilities as to how The Doctor and Donna Noble could possibly end up back together, and also noting that fans might see some familiar, but new, villains. Russell T Davies also revealed how a conversation about his, David Tennant and Catherine Tate's returns came about during the Doctor Who: Lockdown! watch-along of "The Runaway Bride" and how he reached out to the BBC for a potential return to the position of showrunner.

On the 30th September 2022, David Tennant spoke, in an interview with BBC News, about his and Catherine Tate's return to the show, explaining that it all happened during Doctor Who: Lockdown! saying they ‘were just having a text exchange and Catherine said, “wouldn’t it be fun to do it again?” Russell said, “We could do a one off, maybe they’d let us”. We said, “yeah that would be a laugh,” and then it all went quiet. Suddenly Russell let us know that he was taking over the show again and he would be back fully in charge and would we come and play a little bit for him?

On the 23rd October 2022, following the broadcast of "The Power of The Doctor", where David Tennant became the next incarnation of The Doctor, Russell T Davies confirmed that David Tennant would be playing the Fourteenth Doctor and new incoming actor for the following series Ncuti Gatwa would be playing the Fifteenth Doctor. It was also revealed that all three 60th Anniversary Specials would be airing in November 2023

On the 28th October 2022, the new costumes for David Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble went on display at the MCM Comic Con in London at the Doctor Who booth, which also displayed the TARDIS and other merchandise. The display was available until the 30th October 2022.

On the 10th November 2022 new revelations were made in Doctor Who Magazine issue 584 about the new era to come; the new production crew was revealed and Russell T Davies teased that ‘huge revelations to come and brand-new stories about a Time Lord’s life’ were yet to come.

On the 23rd November 2022 a variety of new content was announced. Including a new logo that has a shiny metallic look - and another being a new promotional image for the 60th anniversary specials of the Fourteenth Doctor standing on a cliff top in front of the TARDIS.

On the 25th December 2022 the first teaser trailer for the new specials was aired, bringing Beep the Meep and the Wrarth Warriors (both of whom first appeared in the 1980 Doctor Who Weekly comic strip story Doctor Who and the Star Beast) to television. It also announced the return of Jacqueline King and Karl Collins as Sylvia Noble and Shaun Temple respectively and brought Ruth Madeley to the screen as new character Shirley Anne Bingham. Ncuti Gatwa was also officially revealed as the Fifteenth Doctor.

On the 2nd February 2023, in Doctor Who Magazine issue 587, Russell T Davies announced that there were bigger plans to come for the show as he revealed that the trailer which aired during Christmas 2022 was originally meant to be shown right after "The Power of The Doctor" on the 23rd October 2022, and was originally much longer, but it was decided against, with the final version postponed and with no footage from the second special. Mention was made of how the specials' teaser trailer entirely consisted of footage from the first and third stories, which in the process, appeared to confirm that Ncuti Gatwa would appear in at least one of these stories.

On the 7th March 2023, it was announced that David Tennant would be the main presenter of Comic Relief 2023 and would appear during a sketch in the telethon in character as the Fourteenth Doctor to promote this season. This occurred on the 17th March 2023 during Red Nose Day. In a pre-filmed sketch to start off Comic Relief 2023, comedic actor Lenny Henry appeared to be getting ready for hosting the show, when complaining about stomach pains. In a twist, he started regenerating, turning into David Tennant in-character as the Fourteenth Doctor, who, in a partial re-enactment of the last scene from "The Power of The Doctor", examines his own body, exclaims 'What?!’, notices he is going to host the live show, looks at his watch and runs off.

On the 16th March 2023 Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition issue 63 was released in which Executive Producer Julie Gardner was interviewed about expectations and worries behind the scenes, to which she replied: ‘There’s only one worry on Doctor Who: that production delivers on the extraordinary quality of Russell’s writing. He’s writing amongst his best-ever work. The scripts are big and extremely ambitious. The only worry I ever have is that we get it right for him. We run to keep up’.

On the 30th March 2023 Doctor Who Magazine issue 589 was released, in which the directors of the specials praised the new TARDIS interior set, being said to be ‘church-like in scale’ and then recalling initial worries of if it will be ready in time. He also mentioned about ‘being able to point the camera anywhere at it and it looks amazing’.

On the 31st March 2023 the BBC promised in their Annual Plan for 2023/2024 a ‘highly ambitious reinvention of Doctor Who’, with the show included in their list of ‘distinctive, high-quality drama working with the very best new and established on-and-off-screen talent’, it further stated: ‘We will bolster our on-screen spend with third-party investment to deliver greater value to audiences, including the first new content from our highly ambitious reinvention of Doctor Who, co-produced in partnership with Disney’.

On the 24th April 2023 the BBC officially announced, on their social media and the Doctor Who website, that former composer Murray Gold would be returning to perform the soundtracks for the three specials and the series beyond, with Murray Gold commenting: ‘I’m so happy to be invited back for another joyful ride in the TARDIS. I didn’t think twice. Working with Russell and his team is just a pleasure’.

On the 29th April 2023 and then again on the 5th May 2023 and the 9th May 2023, the Doctor Who social media included some cryptic posts containing strange codes that then got deleted, and brief interruptions on BBC One occurred, which showed similar codes as well as a few shots from the 60th anniversary specials. Some coding translated as ‘The Star Beast’ while other codes referred to the last date of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest on the 13th May 2023. Then shortly before the song contest started the BBC released a brand-new trailer revealing both footage from the specials and the title of each special; "The Star Beast", "Wild Blue Yonder" and "The Giggle", respectively.

On the 2nd August 2023, in an interview with Elle Magazine, Yasmin Finney (who played Rose Noble, the daughter of Donna Noble and Shaun Temple) spoke of the ‘shivers, scares and laughs’ of the 60th anniversary specials, saying: ‘You can look forward to a lot of scary things’ and ‘I think in this series, I was scared when I saw some of the things. It’s shivers down your spine. But, I can’t tell you too much. What I can say is it is going to be full of scares, full of laughs, full of all of it’. Also speaking again on her shared scenes with Ncuti Gatwa, saying: ‘To act with Ncuti Gatwa is just amazing because we are both very young as well, and it’s just really nice to have that. He’s making history literally, and I’m just really happy to be a part of his world’.

On the 8th September 2023, during an interview with Entertainment Weekly, David Tennant talked about his return to the show, saying it was ‘Just an unexpected treat to get to revisit something that had been such a lovely wonderful experience 15 years ago. To get to have another proper runaround, in an albeit slightly different long coat, was a joy I never really imagined’. The article also revealed a few new promotional images from the specials

On the 14th September 2023 the BBC announced that Miriam Margolyes had been cast in the role of The Meep in "The Star Beast".

On the 16th September 2023 the Doctor Who social media posted a glitch-teaser with binary code which translated as ‘Saturday 23rd September, BBC One, 6:13pm’ and ‘Their time has come...’, hinting at an upcoming announcement at this date. This was a brand-new trailer containing a more in-depth look into The Toymaker and UNIT, also revealing Kate Lethbridge-Stewart's return. New promotional posters were also released along with an article confirming Jemma Redgrave as Kate and confirming Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker. Russell T Davies also offered a comment, saying: ‘This is just the start, as the fever starts to burn. We’re heading for a November full of Doctor Who surprises, for fans and new viewers alike. Stay alert! ’.

On the 27th September 2024 a new behind the scenes show called Doctor Who Unleashed was announced to be broadcast alongside each story in the same vein as its predecessor Doctor Who Confidential.

On the 28th September 2024, the BBC held a huge concert at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff called Doctor Who at 60: A Musical Celebration, which celebrated the 60th anniversary of the show with music performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Alastair King. The concert united showrunners Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall as well as both composers Murray Gold and Segun Akinola, playing all the well-known soundtracks as well as introducing a few new tracks. This concert was released on BBC Sounds on the 12th October 2023 and then an edited version was broadcast on BBC Four on the 1st November 2023.

On the 25th October 2023 a brand new trailer was released on Disney+, along with two short videos teasing the start date of this mini-season - one with the TARDIS and another with David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor, and an article on the Doctor Who and BBC social sites, revealing the dates of the three specials; "The Star Beast" on the 25th November 2024, "Wild Blue Yonder" on the 2nd December 2024 and "The Giggle" on the 9th December 2024, officially bringing the show back to Saturdays, along with three new posters for each story.

A special press screening of "The Star Beast" took place on the 6th November 2023 at Battersea Power Station in advance of its television broadcast.

Dressed with an animatronic Beep the Meep, the TARDIS, UNIT soldiers, promotional standees and more, the event was attended by many familiar faces, including Russell T Davies, Jane Tranter, Julie Gardner, Murray Gold, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Carole Ann Ford, Katy Manning, Janet Fielding, Sophie Aldred and Ruth Madeley.

A week before the broadcast of the first story a mini-story (that later would be known as ‘Destination: Skaro’) was broadcast on the 17th November 2023 as part of Children in Need. It was written by Russell T Davies in celebration of the 60th anniversary.

Much like the 2005’s Children in Need special ‘Born Again’ had done with the Tenth Doctor, ‘Destination: Skaro’ marked the actual first full appearance of the Fourteenth Doctor on-screen, following his debut in "The Power of The Doctor". While mainly comedic in tone, ‘Destination: Skaro’ was notable for bringing The Doctor back to the genesis of the Daleks, where he ended up unintentionally becoming part of their beginning by inspiring key elements of their development, such as accidentally giving away the name ‘Dalek’ as well as their battle cry, ‘Exterminate’, and inspiring the suction arm by replacing a multi-dextrous claw with a plunger after having accidentally destroyed it. ‘Destination: Skaro’ also marked the first time an adult Davros was shown before his disfigurement in a visual medium, and the second time he had been seen on-screen without the need for his life support chair, coming after his appearance as a child in the 2015 Twelfth Doctor story "The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar".

Anticipation of the broadcast of the first story, "The Star Beast", was high and this was reflected in the viewing figures which were 7.6 million - 2.3 million higher than Jodie Whittaker’s final story. The average viewing figure for all three specials was 7.2 million.

Things to Watch Out For

Wilfred Mott
Wilfred Mott
Following on 10 years after the 50th Anniversary in 2013, 2023 was destined to be another special period in the show’s history. But when Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor regenerated into the Fourteenth Doctor, played by David Tennant, at the end of the 2022 story "The Power of The Doctor" it set up things up that this indeed would be even more special. It also left viewers pondering what returning showrunner Russell T Davies had planned for this special year and how was he going to explain David Tennant’s return to the show. All would eventually be revealed, after a wait of thirteen months, on the 25th November 2023, when the first of the three specials that make up this mini-season was broadcast.

"The Star Beast" is the first story of Russell T Davies's second stint as showrunner and is the first full onscreen adventure for David Tennant, as the Fourteenth Doctor. It also features the return of Catherine Tate, as Donna Noble - whose regular appearance was, fifteen years previously in the 2008 Tenth Doctor story "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End" and thirteen years after her last actual appearance in the 2009/2010 Tenth Doctor story "The End of Time".

As well as heralding David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s return to Doctor Who this first story is special as it is an adaptation of the Doctor Who Weekly comic strip story ‘Doctor Who and the Star Beast’ which featured the Fourth Doctor encountering Beep the Meep. In recreating this story Russell T Davies has cleverly interwoven the key elements from the original story, written by Pat Mills and John Wagner that was first published in 1980, with added elements to include the additional story line involving The Doctor, Donna, Donna’s family (including the introduction of her daughter Rose Noble) and UNIT.

The second story, "Wild Blue Yonder", sees a damaged TARDIS take The Doctor and Donna to the far reaches of the universe, stranding them on a large and apparently abandoned spaceship. Apart from a short pre-titles scene and the appearance on Bernard Cribbins, reprising his role as Wilfred Mott, at the very end, this story mostly only stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

This story though will be mostly remembered for not only being Bernard Cribbins final appearance in Doctor Who but his final contribution in his long and distinguished acting career. This story contains a dedication to this very popular and talented actor.

The third and final story celebrating the 60th anniversary again is special for multiple reasons. "The Giggle" features the final regular appearance of David Tennant, as the Fourteenth Doctor, and Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. This story also sees the return of Jemma Redgrave, as UNIT commander Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and Bonnie Langford, who returns as former companion Melanie Bush. Also guest starring is Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker (a character last seen in the 1966 First Doctor story "The Celestial Toymaker", then portrayed by Michael Gough).

This story however, will be mostly remembered as introducing Ncuti Gatwa (his first appearance as the Fifteenth Doctor) and, for the first time in the show’s long history, the introduction of the concept of ‘bi-generation’ (an altered form of regeneration) where The Doctor is able to split into two incarnations so allowing the Fourteenth Doctor to live on while the Fifteenth Doctor continues travelling in the TARDIS.

High and Low Points

With only three stories it is not easy to choose the best and worst story - especially when all three have so much going for them. "The Star Beast" of course has the return of the fantastic duo of David Tennant and Catherine Tate. But possible the highlight of this story is bringing the comic strip version of The Meep to our screens - helped by the voice of Miriam Margolyes. The low point of this story is the way in which The Meep is defeated by The Doctor and how everything returns to normal despite all the havoc caused between the battle between The Meep, the Wrarth warriors and UNIT.

The high point of the second story, "Wild Blue Yonder", has to be the very final scene when The Doctor and Donna exit the TARDIS, after their adventure aboard the large spaceship. On exiting the TARDIS they discover Wilfred Mott, as played by Bernard Cribbins who sadly passed away shortly after filming this part. The low point is the pre-title scene where the TARDIS crashes into a tree and The Doctor and Donna converse with Isaac Newton who is just at the point of reaching his famous epiphany of discovering gravity. This is not helped by Donna insisting on making a joke about the gravity of the situation - which Isaac mishears thinking that Donna said ‘mavity’.

The third story, "The Giggle" had so much potential with the return to show of The Toymaker. But despite an outstanding performance by Neil Patrick Harris the full potential of this iconic character, that so nearly defeated the First Doctor in the classic 1966 story "The Celestial Toymaker", was lost in this enemy’s long-awaited return to the show. The character of The Toymaker turned out to be very similar to The Master and a typical megalomaniac James Bond villain. Nothing like The Toymaker of old.

The highlight of "The Giggle" possible has to be the regeneration scene - where we witness for the first time a ‘bi-generation’ where The Doctor splits into two incarnations. The Fifteenth Doctor, as played by Ncuti Gatwa, is able to carry on travelling all space and time in his TARDIS while the Fourteenth Doctor lives on in retirement with Donna and her family.

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First and Last

The Firsts:

 David Tennant’s first full story as the Fourteenth Doctor. (The Star Beast)

 Catherine Tate’s first appearance as companion Donna Noble since "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End". (The Star Beast)

 Russell T Davies' first involvement in the show during his second stint as Executive Producer. (The Star Beast)

 Bernard Cribbins' first appearance as Wilfred Mott since "The End of Time". (Wild Blue Yonder)

 Ncuti Gatwa’s first appearance as the Fifteenth Doctor. (The Giggle)

The Lasts (Subject to Future Stories):

 Bernard Cribbins' last appearance as Wilfred Mott. (Wild Blue Yonder)

 David Tennant’s last appearance as the Fourteenth Doctor. (The Giggle)

 Catherine Tate’s last appearance as companion Donna Noble. (The Giggle)

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Photo Gallery

The Doctor and Companions

David Tennant
The Fourteenth Doctor

Ncuti Gatwa
The Fifteenth Doctor

Bonnie Langford
Melanie Bush
Catherine Tate
Donna Noble

On Release

60th Anniversary Specials DVD Box Set
60th Anniversary Specials DVD Box Set

60th Anniversary Specials Blu-Ray Box Set
60th Anniversary Specials Blu-Ray Box Set

60th Anniversary Specials Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set
60th Anniversary Specials Blu-Ray Limited Edition Steelbook Box Set


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