A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Story 302


60th Anniversary Special 2

“I’ve never been this far out. To stand here like this, physically unprotected, right on the edge… No-one ever has. Not ever. Till us. And this ship” – the Doctor

With the Tardis damaged, the Doctor and Donna are flung to the furthest outreach of the universe. The police box vanishes, abandoning them in a vast spaceship but they are not alone. They encounter a slow-moving robot and alien entities that can convincingly duplicate the Doctor and Donna’s bodies and memories. They must race to escape before the ship explodes and prevent the aliens from reaching the known universe. But which Doctor and Donna are which?

First UK broadcast
Saturday 2 December 2023

More like this

The Doctor – David Tennant
Donna Noble – Catherine Tate
Wilfred Mott – Bernard Cribbins
Isaac Newton – Nathaniel Curtis
Mrs Merridew – Susan Twist
Doctor doubles – Daniel Tuite, Ophir Raray, Tommaso de Vincenzo
Donna double – Helen Cripps

Writer – Russell T Davies
Director – Tom Kingsley
Music – Murray Gold
Producer – Vicki Delow
Executive producers – Russell T Davies, Phil Collinson, Joel Collins, Julie Gardner, Jane Tranter

RT review by Patrick Mulkern

Cloaked in mystery, swarming with ill-founded rumours, Wild Blue Yonder turned out to be an attempt by Russell T Davies to push Doctor Who to the limit. Not just to the edge of universe but to the extent of what the BBC in its partnership with Disney can now afford or, rather, achieve. The design and hardware of the vast spaceship look a million dollars, though (as Doctor Who: Unleashed revealed) much was created by CGI. Gorgeous and impressive CGI.

When you’ve rehired David Tennant and Catherine Tate – two stars often on the brink of going supernova – what more do you need really? Well, another Tennant and Tate, identical, but then eerily not, suddenly swollen, malignant and fanged. A two-hander cleverly morphs into a four-hander – and with four of those distended hands being the stuff of nightmares.

The distorted crab-like Doctor is at the bounds of body horror acceptable at teatime, surely a steal from the far more grisly The Thing. There must be all sorts of borrows from old movies that greater fans of sci-fi than I will spot, but I like the nods to past Doctor Who (The Wheel in Space and The Krotons from the 1960s). The daft opener with Isaac Newton recalls Steven Moffat’s cheekier moments, and Davies even has the courtesy to acknowledge Chris Chibnall’s lore-bending in Flux.

With an unusual, throbbing score from Murray Gold, the tension builds, and while I miss some of key detail as it’s gabbled, I’m kept alert and guessing throughout, and am agog when the right Doctor first makes his escape with the wrong Donna.

Without Tennant and Tate, this could slot into a season run as a standard, albeit impressively mounted episode. Is it worthy of “60th special” status? Well, if Tennant and Tate and Russell T Davies aren’t enough for you, how about Bernard Cribbins in his last screen role?

The coda is a beautiful touch. Russell promised me at the launch for The Star Beast that there would be a “fitting tribute” to the great man, who died last year aged 93. It’s wonderful that he was able to make one final contribution to Doctor Who. Clearly, had he been well enough, he would have participated more in these specials as old soldier Wilf.

Bernard was a master of comedy and pathos – and could convey both in one shot. From Carry On to The Railway Children, The Wombles to Old Jack’s Boat, he was part of our childhood across generations. Doctor Who was the icing on a long career. I met Bernard once and it was like meeting Father Christmas for real. A grandad for all time has passed into legend.

Catherine Tate, David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins on the set of Doctor Who
Catherine Tate, David Tennant and Bernard Cribbins on the set of Doctor Who Twitter/DoctorWho

Catch up on past episodes in the Radio Times Doctor Who Story Guide