Doctor Who 2023 Specials Get Official Release Update

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Doctor Who, David Tennant

A new interview from Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davis teased a release update for the upcoming 2023 specials.

As Doctor Who celebrates its 60th anniversary in November, the sci-fi drama will mark the occasion with three specials - "The Star Beast," "Wild Blue Yonder," and "The Giggle" - starring David Tennant, Catherine Tate, and other returning stars.

The anniversary follows a deal between the BBC and Disney+ to bring new Doctor Who episodes to the streaming service outside the UK & Ireland, starting with the three specials and continuing into Ncuti Gatwa's eight-episode Season 14.

When Will Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary Specials Release?

David Tennant as Doctor Who
Doctor Who

Speaking in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, via Doctor Who TV, showrunner Russell T. Davis offered an update on the plans to celebrate the show's 60th anniversary in November, including the release dates for the three David Tennant and Catherine Tate specials.

In an unsurprising turn of events, Davis confirmed none of the three specials will air on the actual 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, Thursday, November 23.

Teasing additional celebratory plans for the anniversary, Davis confirmed November 1, 17, and 23 are "dates to look out for," despite the fact none of them will see the release of the specials:

“DATES to LOOK OUT FOR. November 1, November 17, November 23. And none of those is the date of the Specials’ transmission!”

As of now, the BBC has yet to confirm the air dates for any of the three specials, but recent evidence may point toward plans to release them weekly on Saturdays next month on November 11, 18, and 25.

Doctor Who Is Hiding More Secret Anniversary Plans

Neil Patrick Harris, David Tennant, Doctor Who, Ncuti Gatwa
Doctor Who

While Doctor Who's 50th anniversary special, "Day of the Doctor," may have aired on the celebratory date of November 23, that just so happened to fall on the usual Saturday airing day. As the anniversary will fall on a Thursday this year, releasing on a weekday may have hurt the live BBC viewing figures.

Regardless, Doctor Who still has major plans to celebrate the milestone on November 23, as Russell T. Davis teased the anniversary, along with November 1 and 17 as "dates to look out for."

The plans for the earliest of the three mysterious dates have since been confirmed by the BBC to see over 800 episodes of Doctor Who from across its 60-year tenure come to the iPlayer streaming service in the UK.

While the plans for the other two dates are currently unclear, the showrunner teased in the same Doctor Who Magazine interview how he questioned back in July if they had "done enough" to celebrate the anniversary before coming up with a new idea “that will make you FIZZ!”

The mysterious project involved three scriptwriters and was recorded in-studio in late September, indicating it has been thrown together rather last minute and, as such, should be expected to be a shorter outing. 

Doctor Who has a long history of releasing short mini-episodes, including "The Night of the Doctor" which debuted ahead of the 50th anniversary in 2013 and tied directly into "The Day of the Doctor." Maybe Davis will bring something similar in November as a tie-in to one of the anniversary specials.

Exactly what the third date will bring is currently unclear, but perhaps the BBC could finally announce the long-rumored UNIT spin-off series starring Jemma Redgrave's Kate Stewart. Alternatively, there have been rumors of a Fortnite collaboration event with Doctor Who which could fall into one of the dates.

Doctor Who will return in November with three 2023 specials, airing on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK & Ireland along with Disney+ in other territories. 

- 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.