Until the last few weeks, Beep the Meep was a name known only to the most hardcore of Doctor Who fans. A character first witnessed in the pages of the nascent Doctor Who Weekly in 1980, he w​​as, at first glance anyway, a furry, eyelash-fluttering ball of heart-melting cuteness.


It was only later in that story – penned by the writing duo that created Judge Dredd, Pat Mills and John Wagner (and drawn, fact fans, by future Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons) – that we discovered that Beep wasn’t quite the adorable saucer-eyed critter that we thought he was, instead being a merciless, gun-toting killer on the run from the Wrarth Warriors.

So why are we suddenly talking about Beep the Meep and that strip, ‘The Star Beast’, all these years later? Well, it’s because something looking very like it has been recently spotted in Cardiff, leading to fevered talk that the currently lensing David Tennant episode (or episodes) may be some kind of adaptation of that comic strip classic.

What gives some weight to this theory is that aliens that look somewhat like the Wrarth Warriors (a sort of biologically constructed police force bred specifically to deal with the dreaded Meeps) have been papped clomping down a residential road in Cardiff.

In the original story, Beep crash lands on Earth and is befriended by two school kids, Sharon and Fudge, before the Doctor, in the shape of Tom Baker, turns up. Could this Russell T Davies-penned episode be substituting Sharon and Fudge for the Noble clan and could it be David Tennant’s Doctor who will be facing off against this homicidal furball?

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Billie Piper Dalek
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler with a Dalek in Doctor Who (BBC)

This, of course, is all highly speculative. Nothing’s been confirmed by Bad Wolf or the Beeb, but if it is the case, then this isn’t the first time RTD has cribbed from a Doctor Who story from another medium. Series one’s Dalek was very much a small screen rewrite of writer Rob Shearman’s own Jubilee, from the Big Finish range of audio stories. Similarly, the Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel two-parter owed a chunky debt to Marc Platt’s Spare Parts play from 2002.

Series three’s Human Nature/The Family of Blood, meanwhile, was an unapologetic adaptation of Paul Cornell’s 1995 Doctor Who novel, Human Nature. Even Steven Moffat’s Blink was based on a short story written for the 2006 Doctor Who Annual, titled ‘What I Did on My Christmas Holidays By Sally Sparrow’.

And if this episode is some kind of big-budget riff on ‘The Star Beast’, it also won’t be the first time that Doctor Who has leaned into the comic world for inspiration. That strip that started in issue 1 of Doctor Who Weekly is still roaring now, in the since remonikered Doctor Who Magazine, and there are various instances where eagle-eyed and eared TV viewers will have clocked some reference to comic Who.

Remember the kronkburgers from season 1’s The Long Game? Old-time readers would have known those from ‘Doctor Who and the Iron Legion’ from that first issue in ‘79. Abslom Daak (nickname: ‘Dalek Killer’), meanwhile, popped up on a computer screen in Time Heist, while season 5’s The Lodger was sourced from a strip penned by Gareth Roberts in issue 368 of Doctor Who Magazine, though the original story had the Tenth Doctor, not the 11th, crashing at Mickey Smith’s flat, not Craig Owen’s.

Weird as it is to see Beep the Meep suddenly being referenced in Daily Mirror and MailOnline news stories, it’s cheering to see the press getting so stoked about Doctor Who once more.

And (centenary special excepted) it looks like we’ve got 16 or 17 months of this kind of thing to look forward to – it could well be that long before we know for certain if that really is Beep the Meep, if those are Wrarth Warriors, and if the recently announced Neil Patrick Harris really is playing the Celestial Toymaker.

And talking of the Toymaker, yes, even he turned up in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip – several times in fact. So if we really want to get a handle on what the RTD2 era is likely to look and feel like, maybe it’s best to pull out a few old Doctor Who Weeklys just to see what he’s got planned.

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