Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies hyped up the show’s new special, which includes David Tennant’s return, and also made clear how long it will run for.
Doctor Who has a storied history regarding special episodes. In addition to the long-running British series’ regular seasons, Doctor Who typically produces multiple specials a year, with one usually tying into the Holiday season.
With three specials on the docket for 2023, one of which will bring back David Tennant’s beloved Fourteenth Doctor, devoted Whovians will certainly have a lot to look forward to before 2023 comes to a close.
New 2023 Doctor Who Special Runtime Confirmed
Russell T Davies, executive producer and showrunner of Doctor Who, shared his excitement for the upcoming special “The Giggle” while also confirming its unsurprising runtime.
The special will run for one hour and one minute, which is just “slightly over” the regular running time:
“It’s absolutely epic. It’s slightly over the hour-long running time. It’s the only one that we’ve had to push over an hour. They’re like 55, 56 minutes; this is one hour, one minute.”
This means the two other specials slated for this year will be under an hour at approximately 55 minutes long.
For comparison’s sake, the runtimes of all the other Doctor Who specials are listed below:
- “The Five Doctors” (1983) - 90 minutes (original) / 101 minutes (special edition)
- “Doctor Who: The Movie” (1996) - 89 minutes
- “The Christmas Invasion” (2005) - 90 minutes
- “The Runaway Bride” (2006) - 60 minutes
- “Voyage of the Damned” (2007) - 72 minutes
- “The Next Doctor” (2008) - 60 minutes
- “The End of Time” - Part 1 (2009) - 60 minutes
- “The End of Time” - Part 2 (2010) - 75 minutes
- “A Christmas Carol” (2010) - 60 minutes
- “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” (2011) - 60 minutes
- “The Snowmen” (2012) - 60 minutes
- “The Time of the Doctor” (2013) - 60 minutes
- “Last Christmas” (2014) - 60 minutes
- “The Husbands of River Song” (2015) - 56 minutes
- “The Return of Doctor Mysterio“ (2016) - 60 minutes
- “Twice Upon a Time” (2017) - 60 minutes
- “Resolution” (2019) - 60 minutes
- “Spyfall - Part 1” (2020) - 59 minutes
- “Spyfall - Part 2” (2020) - 60 minutes
- “Revolution of the Daleks” (2021) - 71 minutes
- “Eve of the Daleks” (2022) - 58 minutes
Davies continued to talk up “The Giggle,” mentioning that “so much happens in it:”
“It’s so full! It’s mad. I absolutely adore special three. It’s David’s last episode, obviously, it’s no secret. That’s part of the fun. And my god, we go for it. And Donna’s last episode, Catherine’s last episode. We absolutely go for it. You get to the special, you get halfway through, it’s 30 minutes in and you can’t believe it’s only been 30 minutes. So much happens in it.”
The showrunner also gave ringing endorsements to the two additional 2023 Doctor Who specials. In his words, “The Star Beast” is akin to a Pixar film and “lovely and exciting and fun:”
“A lovely, exciting family film, very Pixar-based, even before Disney got involved with this. I was going for that. It’s like a Bank Holiday film. It’s lovely and exciting and fun. The astonishing thing is how it looks like the third act of the Donna Noble story. You’d have sworn I was always dying to write this final sequence of events. Which I wasn’t. It wasn’t that until I came to do it.”
His thoughts on “Wild Blue Yonder” were much more succinct:
“Weird. It’s weird. That’ll do. The most astonishing barricade you’ll ever see.”
Out with the Old Doctor, In with the New
“The Giggle” should prove to be a monumental outing for the Doctor Who franchise. Not only will David Tennant make a final comeback, but Catherine Tate will turn in her last performance as Donna Noble. The always-electric Neil Patrick Harris will also appear as the Toymaker.
This special will also mark the introduction of Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor. This will be the new star’s first episode as he takes over for Jodie Whittaker in the lead role.
Additionally, Gatwa’s first full season of the show will consist of eight episodes and air in 2024.
“The Star Beast” will air on the BBC and hit Disney+ on Saturday, November 25. “Wild Blue Yonder” follows on Saturday, December 2. Finally, “The Giggle” will arrive on Saturday, December 9.