Following the climax of the BBC's centenary special of Doctor Who, "Power of the Doctor," David Tennant is back to piloting the TARDIS for a trilogy of specials to celebrate the show's 60th Anniversary, after which he will be replaced by Barbie and Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa for Season 14.
The 60th Anniversary specials trilogy - "The Star Beast," "Wild Blue Yonder," and "The Giggle" - will be the first in a new deal to bring Doctor Who to Disney+ outside the UK and Ireland, where it will continue to air on BBC One and Player.
Did the BBC Just Reveal Doctor Who's Return Date?
The BBC officially announced - via the Doctor Who X (formerly Twitter) account - that the network will hold a special watch-along of 14 hours of episodes featuring David Tennant's 10th Doctor and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble ahead of their imminent return.
The pair will reprise their roles for the 60th Anniversary specials which have already been confirmed to air in November, and this event may have offered a clue to exactly when the three episodes will debut.
Tennant and Tate led the British sci-fi drama in 2008's Season 4, starring in the 13-episode season along with the 2006 Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride," and the two-part "The End of Time" special.
The watch-along announcement confirmed the 14-hour event will kickstart at 9:45 a.m. UK time on Saturday, November 4, and run for over 14 hours with a planned-out schedule including breaks.
Participants are encouraged to tweet along using "#DoctorDonathon" and fans can even enter a competition to win tickets to a theatrical screening in London.
But while that's all well and good, many will undoubtedly be wondering how this signals the airdate for Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary specials.
The BBC confirmed alongside the original announcement of the specials they will air in November 2023, coinciding with the 60th Anniversary of the sci-fi mainstay, which began on November 23, 1963.
Traditionally, Doctor Who has aired on Saturday nights on BBC One in the UK, although that trend was broken in recent years as it moved to Sundays for the Jodie Whittaker-led and Chris Chibnall-ran tenure.
Most have been expecting Doctor Who to return to Saturday nights going into the 60th Anniversary as former showrunner Russell T. Davis reassumes control.
With only four Saturdays in November, one of which will now be occupied by this watch-along event, the three 60th Anniversary specials are likely to air on November 11, 18, and 25. This would allow the climactic chapter of the trilogy to air on the week of the show's actual anniversary, which seems likely.
A predicted release schedule can be seen below:
- "The Star Beast" - November 11
- "Wild Blue Yonder" - November 18
- "The Giggle" - November 25
Based on past seasons, the episodes will likely start somewhere between 6 pm and 8 pm on BBC One before coming to BBC iPlayer in the UK. The specials, along with future episodes, will likely come to Disney+ internationally within hours, or at most a few days, after airing live in the UK.
The BBC has yet to confirm the air dates for Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary specials beyond the November release window, and these exact dates remain speculatory for now.
Doctor Who Has a Massive Release Schedule Lined Up
After Doctor Who airs the 60th Anniversary trilogy in November, fans won't be waiting too long to see the show back on screens. Incoming 15th Doctor Ncuti Gatwa will tackle his first adventure in a festive special, which will likely be released on Christmas Day (December 25) or New Year's Day (January 1).
That will be quickly followed by his first full go-round in the TARDIS with the eight-episode Season 14 set to begin in 2024. A now-deleted post from the BBC listed the new season for a Spring 2024 release, potentially pointing to a release between March and May, unless this was just a mistake.
Usually, Doctor Who will air new seasons annually, so fans can probably look forward to more from Gatwa with Season 15 in 2025.
These new episodes will be accompanied by a brand-new show, Doctor Who: Unleashed, a 30-minute behind-the-scenes show hosted by Steffan Powell and diving into the making of each new episode as it releases.
The Whoniverse will also be expanding in big ways, reportedly including a new UNIT spin-off with Jemma Redgrave's Kate Stewart. Although that has yet to be confirmed, never mind any notion of a release date, it's easy to see that also making its way to screens in 2025.
When Doctor Who returns in November, it will air on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK, with new episodes available to stream on Disney+ worldwide.