Doctor Who 60th anniversary special: When is it and what can fans expect?

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Doctor Who 60th anniversary special: When is it and what can fans expect?
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While fans are yet to bid goodbye to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, with her final episode airing later this year, anticipation is already building for next year’s 60th anniversary Doctor Who special.

Much of the excitement surrounds the addition of Neil Patrick Harris to the cast, though there has been little information on his role.

The return of Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies has also been eagerly awaited, and he isn’t the only familiar face scheduled to return.

Here is everything you need to know about the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special:

When will the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special air?

The anniversary special is expected to hit screens on November 23, 2023, though this is yet to be confirmed.

This date would mark exactly 60 years since the very first episode of Doctor Who aired on November 23, 1963 with William Hartnell as the Time Lord.

Who will be cast in the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special?

The latest casting announcement for Davies’ Doctor Who anniversary celebrations has Neil Patrick Harris joining the ranks, with the Uncoupled star set to play a villain.

Many fans have speculated that he could be taking on the role of the Celestial Toymaker - however, there has yet to be any confirmation, with Davies only revealing that the character would be the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced.

Of the role, Harris said: “It’s a great, fun part in ways that I’m not allowed to discuss right now but I had to say yes. I’m trying to do less and I’m now committing to more but I think with Russell, it would be a bad call to say no creatively to him.”

The 60th anniversary special will also be the first time fans will see the 14th Doctor in action.

Ncuti Gatwa will be taking on the role, with former Doctor Matt Smith recently praising his addition as “the most sensational bit of casting”.

At the time of the announcement, Gatwa said: “There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared.

“This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care.”

However, Gatwa is not the only Doctor set to feature in the special - the BBC announced David Tennant’s return to his role as the Tenth Doctor.

He will be reunited with Catherine Tate for the first time since 2010, who is set to reprise her role as Donna Noble.

Showrunner Davies was vague about their return, saying: “They’re back! And it looks impossible -- first, we announce a new Doctor, and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on earth is happening?

“Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.”

The other major casting reveal has been the addition of Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney as Rose.

Davies was similarly tight-lipped about this casting, not willing to explain how there could be another Rose in the show.

He teased: “Life on Doctor Who gets brighter and wilder, how can there be another Rose? You’ll find out in 2023, but it’s an absolute joy to welcome Yasmin to the Doctor Who set.”

What is the plot of the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special?

Although Russell T. Davies has teased fans with casting details for the new series, he has divulged little about the plot of the 60th anniversary special.

In the most recent issue of Doctor Who Magazine, Davies did hint at several theories regarding the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate, although it was unclear whether he had actuallygiven anything away.

He wrote: “A mysteriously forgotten excursion for the TARDIS in between Planet of the Ood and Sontaran Stratagem? Or maybe a multiverse thing, they’re all the rage these days. Maybe this is the Doctor and Donna from Universe 557, all set to collide with our own.

“Then again, maybe, just maybe, this return is so impossible that it’s actually an intricate illusion created by an old enemy of the Doctor’s. Or maybe an old enemy of Donna’s. Nerys!”

Since viewers are also due to meet another version of Rose, it does seem likely that the 60th anniversary special will deal with parallel dimensions or alternate universes of some description.

One intriguing fan theory about the anniversary special posits the idea that Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration at the end of the Doctor Whocentenary special might go haywire.

This theory suggests the broken regeneration will see the Doctor transforming into one of her past selves for the adventure in the 60th anniversary special, before eventually sorting out the regeneration process and transforming into Ncuti Gatwa.

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