This year is set to be a huge one for Doctor Who, as the beloved BBC sci-fi celebrates its 60th anniversary, sees various legends return for three special episodes, and welcomes a new Doctor into the fold.


Although there's still a while to wait for the highly-anticipated specials, which will welcome back David Tennant (who will now play the Fourteenth Doctor) and Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), we haven't been short of news about them - from the trailer airing on Christmas Day to various exciting cast announcements.

The epic trailer aired straight after the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special and gave Whovians their best look yet at Tennant's hotly-anticipated return to the TARDIS alongside Catherine Tate's Donna Noble – while Neil Patrick Harris also features prominently as an enigmatic antagonist.

Meanwhile, we also saw Heartstopper's Yasmin Finney as new character Rose for the very first time, which will no doubt cause even more speculation about the meaning of her character and the significance of her name.

In November Miriam Margolyes reportedly joined the cast of the upcoming specials – and although she can't be seen in the trailer, there is an appearance for Ncuti Gatwa, who will take over the keys of the TARDIS as the Fifteenth Doctor later in 2023.

Most recently, it was announced that Aneurin Barnard would be joining the cast after eagle-eyed fans spotted him gracing campaign posters across set as politician Roger Ap Gwilliam, while Doctor Who icon Jemma Redgrave is also returning as UNIT's Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.

We’re still waiting for specific plot details, but each of the specials will be one hour long, according to Doctor Who Magazine, and returning showrunner Russell T Davies has promised that fans will be "staggered" by "the surprises" awaiting them.

For now, read on for everything we know so far about the upcoming 60th anniversary specials, including when they're likely to air and what might happen.

When will Doctor Who's 60th-anniversary episodes be released?

David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor in Doctor Who
David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC

The Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials will air in November 2023.

There will be three instalments to these celebrations.

The date of the official 60th-anniversary falls on the 23rd of November 2023, which is a Thursday, so it's likely the special will air on either the weekend before that date or the one following it.

The release schedule of the three specials has yet to be confirmed.

After this, the first official instalment of Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor is expected to be released over the festive period of 2023/2024.

Doctor Who 60th anniversary cast

The following cast members have either been confirmed or have been spotted filming for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary.

  • Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor
  • David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor
  • Catherine Tate as Donna Noble
  • Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott
  • Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble
  • Karl Collin as Shaun Temple
  • Yasmin Finney as Rose
  • Neil Patrick Harris as TBC
  • Aneurin Barnard as Roger Ap Gwilliam
  • Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart

Talking about the future, Russell T Davies told the BBC: "If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way!

"The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!"

We'll be keeping track of all the latest rumours and speculation here – and will be sure to update you when we get more official details as well.

David Tennant leaning out the TARDIS looking confused as the Fourteenth Doctor
David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC

Meanwhile, Bernard Cribbins was spotted on the set of the series reprising his beloved role as Donna's grandfather, Wilfred Mott, shortly before the sad news of his death at the age of 93.

Elsewhere, fans have also seen Jacqueline King filming as Donna's mother Sylvia Noble and Karl Collins as Donna's husband Shaun Temple.

It's A Sin star Neil Patrick Harris will reunite with Russell T Davies to play a mysterious antagonistic role in the specials.

Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who (BBC)
Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who. BBC

In a cryptic statement, Davies said: "It’s my huge honour to open our studio doors for the mighty Neil Patrick Harris... but who, why, what is he playing? You’ll just have to wait. But I promise you, the stuff we’re shooting now is off the scale. Doctor beware!"

Finally, Heartstopper actress Yasmin Finney will be joining the series as Rose.

Of Finney's casting, returning showrunner Russell T Davies said: "Life on Doctor Who gets brighter and wilder, how can there be another Rose? You’ll find out in 2023, but it’s an absolute joy to welcome Yasmin to the Doctor Who set.

"We all fell in love with her in Heartstopper, one of those shows which changes the world - and now Yasmin can change the Whoniverse!"

Viewers are already speculating on who Yasmin Finney is portraying with ideas from a parallel universe variant of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) to Donna and Shaun's daughter.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate's Doctor Who return

Image Shows David Tennant and Catherine Tate, credit Alistair Heap/BBC STUDIOS
David Tennant and Catherine Tate return to Doctor Who Alistair Heap/BBC STUDIOS

Tennant and Tate were confirmed to be returning in May 2022, with an official release from Russell T Davies reading: "They're back! And it looks impossible - first, we announce a new Doctor, and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on earth is happening? Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback.

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"The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime."

It's all very cryptic, and a further release from the BBC doesn't exactly shine too much more light on the situation.

"The Doctor and Donna parted ways when the Doctor had to wipe Donna's memory, making her forget him, in order to save her life," it reads.

Catherine Tate returns to Doctor Who
Catherine Tate as Donna Noble in Doctor Who. BBC

"He left her family with a warning: if ever she remembers, she will die. But with the two coming face to face once more, the big question is, just what brings the Doctor and Donna back together?"

Details on how exactly they're going to play a part, then, are rather thin on the ground – but that won't stop Whovians from speculating, and a number of theories have already been put forward, from parallel universes to the possibility that Tennant could be playing a different iteration of the Doctor.

We imagine a lot more speculation will occur between now and the big anniversary...

Doctor Who 60th anniversary special plot: What will happen?

David Tennant stood in front of the TARDIS as the Fourteenth Doctor.
David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor in Doctor Who. BBC

The plot of the 6oth anniversary specials will continue directly on from the cliffhanger conclusion of The Power of the Doctor.

The Thirteenth Doctor regenerated into the Fourteenth - who looks remarkably like the Tenth Doctor!

Somehow the Doctor will reunite with his former companion Donna Noble and her family as a dangerous new threat places Earth in danger.

So, just what is going on and how will the Fourteenth Doctor end up as the Fifteenth Doctor?

Is there a trailer for Doctor Who's 60th anniversary special?

Yes! An exciting new teaser trailer was released on Christmas Day to bring a bit of Whovian festive cheer.

"We wanted to give fans, friends and families a lovely little Christmas present - with a promise that 2023 will be a riot of Doctor Who goodness!" said Russell T Davies – you can watch the clip in full below.

Before that a teaser trailer for the 60th-anniversary specials was released following the airing of The Power of the Doctor.

David Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor is seen arriving on Earth and his voice says: "I don't know who I am anymore."

We then see him looking shocked on a street as human civilians run and then a shot of Neil Patrick Harris' mysterious villain waving to him tauntingly.

Further shots show the Doctor running, ducking beneath the TARDIS, before a shot of a panicked Donna Noble.

A van is then shown flying through the air and crashing into a fiery car in a London suburb - could it be Donna's home neighbourhood of Chiswick?

Finally, the trailer concludes with Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor exclaiming: "Someone tell me what the hell is going on here!"

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Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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