David Tennant Is Back For Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary, But Classic Who Fans Are Also Getting Something That Sounds Brilliant

 David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor.
David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor.

Doctor Who is a month away from celebrating its 60th anniversary, and the biggest way the BBC is commemorating this milestone is bringing David Tennant back. Last year, fans watched as Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor shockingly regenerated back to this familiar face, with this incarnation of the Time Lord now being identified as the Fourteenth Doctor and set to lead three special episodes that will air in late November and early December. On top of that trio of stories though, fans of the Classic Who era will be getting something for the 60th anniversary that sounds, as the Tenth Doctor liked to say, brilliant.

Ahead of delivering over 800+ episodes of Doctor Who and its spinoffs to fans in the United Kingdom on iPlayer starting November 1st, BBC has announced that it will be releasing a six-part series called Tales of the TARDIS on the same days and same streaming platform. These episodes will see “beloved Doctor Who duos” reuniting in a “very special TARDIS,” reflecting on their adventures together and “in the process they discover something new, leaving viewers with a new insight into the story of each timeless pair.” These new scenes will be stitched in with classic episodes to “create a feature-length omnibus episode.” Here are the duos we’ll be seeing:

  • Maureen O’Brien as Vicki and Peter Purves as Steven

  • Frazer Hines as Jamie and Wendy Padbury as Zoe

  • Katy Manning as Jo and Daniel Anthony as Clyde

  • Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Janet Fielding as Tegan

  • Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Nicola Bryant as Peri

  • Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace

Of this lineup, all but Daniel Anthony’s Clyde hail from Doctor Who’s classic years, with the latter being one of the main characters from the spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures. However, he did spend time with Katy Manning’s Jo, as well as Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, in the two-parter “Death of The Doctor.” It’s Manning, Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Alfred all reprised their roles just last year in Jodie Whittaker’s final episode, “The Power of The Doctor.” While Tegan, Peri and Ace are being paired back with their respective Doctors, Vicki and Steven were companions to William Hartnell’s First Doctor (who’s lately been played by David Bradley), Jamie and Zoe were companions to Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, and Jo was a companion to Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor.

Unfortunately, for now, Tales of the TARDIS will be exclusive to iPlayer, with showrunner Russell T. Davies, who co-wrote these episodes with Phil Ford and Pete McTighe, saying on Instagram that he has “no news whether these will ever be available abroad.” So although Disney+ subscribers outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland will have access to new Doctor Who episodes going forward, and BritBox is home to classic Doctor Who episodes stateside, it’s entirely possible that non-UK-based fans may never see these stories… at least, through official means. Davies also said the following about Tales of the TARDIS in an official statement:

The word Whoniverse was invented by fans, so it’s time to give it official status. And TALES OF THE TARDIS is one of the greatest delights of my career - to see old Doctors and companions reunited, still fighting the good fight, is a perfect way to celebrate the Doctor’s 60th birthday!

Tales of the TARDIS sounds like a fun treat for Classic Who fans, and between that, David Tennant’s episodes and the audio productions Big Finish has been putting out, the 60th anniversary has been well covered this year. Speaking of Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary TV episodes, that cast also includes the return of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble and Neil Patrick Harris playing The Celestial Toymaker. We’ll also eventually see the Fourteenth Doctor regenerate into Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor, who will lead his first full episode sometime in December.

David Tennant’s first complete onscreen outing as the Fourteenth Doctor, “The Star Beast,” arrives on Disney+ November 25, followed by “Wild Blue Yonder” on December 2 and “The Giggle” on December 9. Browse through our 2023 TV schedule to learn what other remaining small screen content is left to come out this year.