Disney+'s Doctor Who Cast: Every Actor Appearing In 2023 Specials

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Neil Patrick Harris, David Tennant, Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa

Five Doctor Who icons will return to the show in 2023 for the 60th Anniversary specials alongside some brand-new characters and actors.

The British sci-fi series returns to screens in November for a trilogy of specials starring returning lead David Tennant. For the first time ever, Doctor Who will now debut its episodes on Disney+ in all territories except for the UK where it will continue to air on the BBC.

The first trailer for the specials arrived at Christmas, offering a peak at all the excitement to come and breaking a huge Doctor Who viewership record with it.

David Tennant - 14th Doctor

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, David Tennant, 14th Doctor

"The Power of the Doctor" - Doctor Who's latest episode - shocked fans as Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor regenerated back into previous star David Tennant. This place the 10th Doctor actor back at the helm of the show for a trilogy of 60th-anniversary specials, after which he will be succeeded by Ncuti Gatwa.

While Tennant appears to have all the traits of his previous Doctor and even a similar costume, the returning star is still very much the 14th Doctor here, and not his previous 10th Doctor who led the show from Christmas 2005 to 2009.

Catherine Tate - Donna Noble

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Catherine Tate, Donna Noble

Joining Tennant will be arguably the most popular companion from his original Doctor Who era with the sassy redhead Donna Noble. 

Donna's eventual exit from the show came with the caveat of her losing all memory of the Doctor, and if she were to ever remember him, then she would die. So, who knows how the 2023 specials will get around that monumental dilemma?

Karl Collins - Shaun Temple

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Karl Collins, Shaun Temple

Karl Collins made his Doctor Who debut as Donna's fiance Shaun Temple alongside the former companion's last appearance in "The End of Time." The pair married shortly after and were even gifted a winning lottery ticket from the Doctor.

Donna and Shaun are both coming back, but at least thirteen years have now passed since they were last seen on their wedding day in 2010.

Yasmin Finney - Rose

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Yasmin Finney

Heartstopper actress Yasmin Finney will play a new character called Rose in the 60th Anniversary, and yes, she shares a name with Billie Piper's iconic 10th Doctor companion Rose Tyler, but she is most definitely not her. 

Finney - a transgender woman herself - has confirmed her character will also be trans, with her seemingly being the daughter of Donna Noble and Shaun Temple.

Bernard Cribbins - Wilfred Mott

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Bernard Cribbins, Wilfred Mott

British acting veteran Bernard Cribbins tragically passed away shortly after filming his return as Wilfred Mott for the 2023 specials. So, this will mark both the last appearance of Donna's fan-favorite grandfather and Cribbins' final performance

Not much is known about the extent of Mott's role, but Tennant's Doctor was seen pushing him in a wheelchair alongside Donna in previous set photos.

Jacqueline King - Sylvia Noble

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Jacqueline King, Sylvia Noble

Tagging along with the rest of the family, Jacqueline King will reprise her role as Donna's mother and Wilfred's daughter Sylvia Noble. 

As has been shown in the trailer, Sylvia will clearly be trying at some point to keep the Doctor away from Donna's glaze out of fear of the possible consequences. 

Neil Patrick Harris

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Neil Patrick Harris

The announcement of Neil Patrick Harris joining Doctor Who's 2023 anniversary specials marked a shock for many, given a major American actor appearing in the British show has generally been a rare event - but perhaps that's down to the massive budget increase.

His character's identity continues to be a mystery but he appears to be playing a charismatic, stage performer-type villain. Many have theorized he may be playing the classic Celestial Toymaker, a character who truly uses people as playthings and hasn't been seen on-screen since early in the show's original run in 1966.

Miriam Margolyes

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Miriam Margoyles, Beep the Meep

Harry Potter's Professor Sprout actress Miriam Margolyes will appear as a currently unknown character, but the top theory has her voicing the furry Beep the Meep who was featured in the latest trailer.

Beep was the leader of the meeps and a galactic criminal in classic Doctor Who extended universe comics. Now, the furry threat, or at least one of the meeps, appears placed to make its live-action debut in the 2023 specials. 

Ruth Madeley - Shirley Anne Bingham

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Ruth Madeley, Shirley Ann Bingham

Ruth Madeley will debut in the 60th Anniversary specials as the wheelchair-bound Shirley Anne Bingham, although it seems her role may stretch beyond the specials into the future of Doctor Who on Disney+.

Executive producer Phil Collinson confirmed in Doctor Who Magazine she will play "an integral role in the new Whoniverse," possibly pointing to a continued role into Season 14 and perhaps even the reported UNIT spin-off:

“It’s our great delight to show an all-too-brief moment of Ruth Madeley as Shirley Anne Bingham. There’s lots more of Shirley to come, as she plays an integral role in the new Whoniverse.”

Ronak Patani - Major Singh

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Ronak Patani, Major Singh

Newcomer Ronak Patani - who had a brief appearance in Star Wars' Andor - will appear in at least one of the 60th Anniversary specials as Major Singh.

Not much is known about this military character, but when he appeared in the trailer, he was in full military gear ordering his team to "open fire" on some alien attackers in a suburban neighborhood. 

Ncuti Gatwa - 15th Doctor

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Ncuti Gatwa, 15th Doctor

After David Tennant enjoys his 60th Anniversary trilogy, the legendary actor will bow out of the show once again to make way for Sex Education's Ncuti Gatwa to take over as the 15th Doctor.

Gatwa ought to appear at least in the final moments of the third special after Tennant regenerates into him, setting the stage for his own first outing in December with this year's Christmas special and Season 14 - which recently revealed a surprising episode count - in 2024.

The actor only showed up in one shot of the trailer to say, "Can somebody tell me what the hell is going on here," in front of a cloudy sky.

Although showrunner Russell T Davis already confirmed in Doctor Who Magazine that isn't the actual backdrop for the scene but was replaced for the trailer as "the actual location would give away too much."

The Mysterious Umbrella Man

Doctor Who,  60th Anniversary, 2023, Umbrella Man

Showrunner Russell T Davis previously pointed out fans haven't spotted every guest star in the show's latest trailer. Doctor Who Magazine, he particularly pointed out "The man with an umbrella and his back to the camera, walking into the bright red shop in the rain, who's he?"

Davis added "That’s a lovely guest star. Wonderful actor. Walking past unnoticed. Wait and see!" The exact identity of this guest star remains unclear at this time, with the rest of the confirmed cast already listed above.

Doctor Who will return for its three 60th Anniversary Specials in November, marking the show's Disney+ debut worldwide while still airing on BBC in the UK.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.