Excitement for Doctor Who is at an all-time high with the 60th anniversary specials just around the corner.


The anniversary celebrations of the world's longest-running sci-fi television series are fast approaching, and will see David Tennant back in the TARDIS, now portraying the Fourteenth Doctor, as the Time Lord is reunited with beloved companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) for The Star Beast, The Giggle and Wild Blue Yonder.

Love Doctor Who? Listen to our podcast interview about Doctor Who games!

Of course, the last time we saw Donna, the Doctor was forced to wipe her memories of their adventures for fear her mind would burn due to the overwhelming knowledge that emerged when they underwent a human-Time Lord meta crisis. So, how are they back together?

Well, we now know further details and we've been treated to a full scene from the first special, The Star Beast, which sees Donna coming face to face with the Meep (voiced by Miriam Margolyes) - safe to say it doesn't exactly go down well.

More like this

We also got another look at Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor, who will make his debut in the specials before getting his own festive special later in 2023.

Each of the specials will be around one hour long, 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 Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials, including when they air.

Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials release date

The Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials will begin airing with The Star Beast on Saturday 25th November 2023.

The episode will be available on BBC iPlayer and BBC One in the UK, while the rest of the world can find it on Disney+.

The subsequent episodes will air on the following Saturdays on 2nd December 2023 and 9th December 2023. These were confirmed by the BBC on Wednesday 25th October 2023.

After the airing of the three specials, 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 stars

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

  • David Tennant as The Fourteenth Doctor
  • Catherine Tate as Donna Noble
  • Ncuti Gatwa as The Fifteenth Doctor
  • Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker
  • Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble
  • Karl Collins as Shaun Temple
  • Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble
  • Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott
  • Jemma Redgrave as Kate Stewart
  • Ruth Madeley as Shirley Anne Bingham
  • Miriam Margolyes as the voice of Beep the Meep

Of course, the biggest headline of the specials has to be the return of David Tennant as the Doctor - but now portraying the Fourteenth Doctor and not the Tenth.

Tennant is not alone, of course, as Catherine Tate is back in her iconic role as fan-favourite companion Donna Noble - last seen happily married and set to benefit from a winning lottery ticket. However, she has no memory of her travels with the Doctor, at least for now...

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

Ruth Madeley in Doctor Who wearing a black blazer and red outfit
Ruth Madeley in Doctor Who. Alistair Heap/BBC STUDIOS

Elsewhere, Jacqueline King reprises her role as Donna's acerbic mother Sylvia Noble and Karl Collins is back as Donna's husband Shaun Temple.

Additionally, Years & Years star Ruth Madeley has entered the fray as Shirley Anne Bingham, who appears to be an ally to the Doctor in the specials, while Jemma Redgrave has been confirmed to be reprising her role as UNIT boss Kate Stewart, having already been confirmed to be back for the fourteenth run of the show opposite Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor.

It's A Sin star Neil Patrick Harris will reunite with Russell T Davies to play a nefarious antagonistic role in the specials, now confirmed as The Toymaker.

Key poster for ‘The Giggle’ featuring David Tennant as the Doctor, Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and Neil Patrick Harris as the Toymaker. He is looming over the Doctor and Donna, smiling maniacally and throwing playing cards towards the foreground.
Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials. BBC

In a cryptic statement when he was announced, 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!"

The Toymaker is an antagonist who last appeared during Doctor Who's inaugural era, with the Celestial Toymaker portrayed by Michael Gough opposite William Hartnell's First Doctor.

Elsewhere, Miriam Margolyes has now been confirmed as the voice of Beep the Meep, the classic Doctor Who comic character who will feature in the specials.

Heartstopper actress Yasmin Finney will be joining the series as Rose, now confirmed as the daughter of Donna Noble and her husband Shaun Temple.

Jacqueline King, Karl Collins and Yasmin Finney in Doctor Who standing together looking concerned
Jacqueline King, Karl Collins and Yasmin Finney in Doctor Who. Alistair Heap/BBC Studios

Of Finney's appearance, 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!"

Finally, Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will make his debut as the Fifteenth Doctor during the specials ahead of his big solo premiere episode during the festive season opposite Millie Gibson as his new companion, Ruby Sunday.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate's Doctor Who return

David Tennant in new Doctor Who character poster 2023, using his sonic screwdriver
David Tennant in new Doctor Who character poster 2023. 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.

"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 as Donna Noble in Doctor Who, looking skywards
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?"

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

Neil Patrick Harris as the Toymaker in Doctor Who
Neil Patrick Harris as the Toymaker 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.

We do know that Beep the Meep has found itself in Donna Noble's shed and that the Noble-Temple clan will be embroiled in the latest adventures with the Doctor.

Elsewhere, UNIT will also be making a comeback to help the Doctor with a new threat. Could this threat be the return of the Toymaker, who promises to be a big danger to the Doctor and his friends?

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

Doctor Who 60th anniversary special trailers

The latest full-length trailer was released on Saturday 23rd September 2023 ahead of the premiere of Strictly Come Dancing 2023.

The footage primarily focused on the return of Donna Noble and her bittersweet reunion with the Doctor as dangerous forces amass.

Among the threats is the return of The Toymaker, but it also seems something so dangerous is coming that it forces the TARDIS to flee the Doctor!

Catch the trailer below.

An exciting new teaser trailer was previously released on Christmas Day 2022 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!"

Read more:

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.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.