Doctor Who 60th anniversary: BBC One release date, trailer, and cast with David Tennant and Catherine Tate

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David Tennant and Catherine Tate are returning to Doctor Who for its 60th anniversary in November 2023 - with Tennant as the 14th Doctor. What? What?! WHAT?!

At the end of Jodie Whittaker’s final episode, the Doctor regenerated… back into David Tennant.

It was announced earlier this year that David Tennant and Catherine Tate would be returning in some capacity for the 60th anniversary in November 2023, but watching Whittaker regenerate – or degenerate? – into Tennant will no doubt have shocked many and raised a number of questions.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Doctor Who’s upcoming 60th anniversary, David Tennant’s return, and just where Ncuti Gatwa fits into all of this.

When is David Tennant back as the Doctor?

David Tennant as the 14th Doctor, newly regenerated, staring at his hands in shock (Credit: BBC Studios)David Tennant as the 14th Doctor, newly regenerated, staring at his hands in shock (Credit: BBC Studios)
David Tennant as the 14th Doctor, newly regenerated, staring at his hands in shock (Credit: BBC Studios) | BBC Studios

As of right now, David Tennant is officially the 14th Doctor. The BBC announced after The Power of the Doctor that Tennant’s return would take the form of three special episodes set to air in November 2023, coinciding with Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary.

We don’t know exactly how those episodes will air – whether you’ll see them air across a few days (perhaps Friday 24 through to Sunday 25) or over a few weeks (starting on Saturday 11, ending on Saturday 24) – and it’ll probably be quite some time before we do. But! November 2023, that’s a solid ballpark.

Is there a trailer for David Tennant’s return?

Yes, there is! You can watch it right here. There’s a few clips of Tennant’s 14th Doctor running away from explosions, Catherine Tate back as Donna, and Neil Patrick Harris as a mysterious suited figure – and a very brief clip of Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor, wondering just what the hell is going on. (Much like the rest of us, in that regard.)

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A new trailer was released before Eurovision, revealing the titles of the three 60th anniversary specials: The Star Beast, Wild Blue Yonder, and The Giggle. What could they mean?

What else do we know about the 60th anniversary?

For one thing, we know that Catherine Tate will also be returning as Donna Noble! When we last saw Donna, she’d just gotten married to Shaun Lyons, and didn’t remember her life in the TARDIS at all – whether that’ll change and she’ll be reminded of the Doctor remains to be seen, but you could perhaps reasonably assume we might see some of Donna’s family again in the upcoming special.

We also know that Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney will appear as a new character called Rose, though who exactly she is, or why she’s called Rose, isn’t quite clear yet. (Reading between the lines, she's probably Donna's daughter.) Earlier this year, though, Finney did reveal that “she’s a 15-year-old girl with a great, supportive family. Envision Heartstopper but fighting aliens”.

Neil Patrick Harris is also set to star in the upcoming Doctor Who specials – seemingly, though not necessarily, as the villain. There’s been a lot of speculation that he might be playing a Classic Doctor Who villain known as the Celestial Toymaker, a powerful being who views the universe as a board for his games – it’ll be a while before we know either way though, of course.

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It’s also been confirmed that Rachel Talalay – director of various Peter Capaldi Doctor Who episodes, including Death in Heaven, Hell Bent, and World Enough and Time – will be directing at least one of the Doctor Who specials with David Tennant.

Teasing the future, Russell T Davies said “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!”"

And when is Ncuti Gatwa debuting as the Doctor?

Ncuti Gatwa will make his full debut as the Doctor “during the 2023 festive period”, according to a BBC press release – so it won’t be long to wait between the close of Tennant’s specials and the beginning of Gatwa’s Doctor’s travels. It’s also been confirmed that the new international home of Doctor Who, beginning with Tennant’s return, will be Disney+ (with the show remaining exclusive to the BBC in the UK).

Of course, the brief glimpse of Gatwa in the next time trailer suggests we’ll be seeing him for the first time a little sooner than that…

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