Four unanswered questions about the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials

Four unanswered questions about the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials

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Tuesday, 24th October 2023
The Doctor, played by David Tennant, leans out of the TARDIS with a look of shock on his face
Doctor Who (credit: BBC)

It’s not long before the TARDIS careens back onto screens for more interdimensional adventure.

Doctor Who returns in November, with three hour-long specials to celebrate 60 years of campiness across space and time.  

David Tennant (Good Omens) and Catherine Tate (The Catherine Tate Show) are back as the Doctor and companion Donna Noble. The Doctor first met Donna when she materialised in front of him in a wedding dress, and she quickly became a fan favourite. Her no-nonsense attitude and refusal to be impressed with the Doctor’s tight suits wowed viewers, who crowned her their favourite companion in a 2022 Radio Times poll.

A 2020 vote, also ran by Radio Times, put David Tennant as the best Doctor, making the duo a winning combination. Here are the burning questions on every fan’s lips about their return.

How can Donna cope with remembering the Doctor?

The Doctor and Donna’s last dalliance didn’t end well. In the series four finale, ‘Journey’s End’, Donna gains the knowledge of the Doctor through a ‘two-way biological metacrisis’.

While she enjoys combining Time Lord acumen with human creativity, the sheer weight of centuries’ worth of insight starts to overwhelm. In order to save her mind, the Doctor is forced to wipe all memory Donna has of her time-travelling friend. He warns her family that she can’t ever remember any of their shared adventures, even for a second.

It’s a wonder, then, that she even makes it through the trailer for the anniversary specials. We see her back with the Doctor, seemingly with full knowledge of the TARDIS. We also see the Doctor with an even starker warning than in ‘Journey’s End’: “If she remembers me, she will die”.

For now, though, she seems fine. Viewers will have to tune in to find out how this is possible.

What are the Meep’s motives?

Fans have the outspoken Miriam Margolyes (The Age of Innocence) to look forward to, who voices wide-eyed fluffy alien Beep the Meep. But are this extra-terrestrial’s intentions as innocent as their appearance?

Beep the Meep first appeared in Doctor Who and the Star Beast, a comic strip released in 1980. Though initially cute and cuddly, the Meep is revealed as a gun-toting psychopath, whose species has been turned evil by Black Sun radiation. Once peaceful, Beep’s kind has now devoted itself to intergalactic domination.     

After first being fooled by his soft appearance, the Fourth Doctor apprehends Beep. Will David Tennant’s 14th Doctor be fooled? And will the Meep have similarly destructive designs in their live action debut?

Will the Toymaker and the Meep cross paths?

As well as alien teddy bears, the Doctor and Donna will have to contend with the villainous (and altogether less fluffy) Toymaker, played by Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). Like Beep, this is not the character’s first rodeo.

The Toymaker first appeared in 1966 serial The Celestial Toymaker, where the First Doctor reveals he has faced down this foe before, and likely will again.

Played by Michael Gough, the original version of the Toymaker inhabited his own realm, where he makes people play games to turn them into his playthings. After we see him on Earth in the trailer for the anniversary specials, it’s natural to wonder: will he interact with the Meep?

The two are both selfish and devious. Perhaps they’ll admire each other. Could the two team up, or might each prove to be the other’s destruction?

Come on. When are the release dates?

The BBC has steadfastly refused to divulge the exact days in November when the specials will be broadcast.

Details are also scant for the Christmas special that will follow November’s outings. All the BBC has revealed about Ncuti Gatwa’s (Sex Education) debut as the 15th Doctor is that it will take place “over the festive period”.

For now, fans have been left guessing. Showrunner Russell T Davies seems to appreciate the power of not revealing too much. Last October, he is quoted by the BBC as saying, “We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!”

In a press release issued today, the BBC has remained tight-lipped. However, it did reveal that Kate Herron and Briony Redman have co-written an episode of the new series, which will air after the Christmas special.

Herron is best known for directing four episodes of Sex Education and the entire first series of Loki, on which she also served as executive producer. Redman, a comedian, has acted in award-winning short film Forget Me Not.

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It’s not long before the TARDIS careens back onto screens for more interdimensional adventure.