Doctor Who may be coming back with the familiar fan-favorite faces of David Tennant's Doctor and Catherine Tate's Donna, but there are still some new faces hanging around the TARDIS, including Yasmin Finney's Rose Noble.
Yasmin Finney's Rose Noble Explained
In "The Star Beast," and presumably more of the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials, Yasmin Finney plays Donna Noble's daughter Rose Noble - named after David Tennant's first Doctor Who companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).
In line with Finney's own transgender identity, Rose is non-binary in Doctor Who, and these themes are very heavily addressed across the episode, playing into "The Star Beast" story in a major way.
Finney makes history with her casting as the first transgender star to receive top-three cast billing for an episode of Doctor Who. This comes after the show cast its first openly transgender actor in 2015 as Bethany Black played 474 in Season 9's "Sleep No More" - although the character still seemed to be cisgender.
The show also recently cast its first transgender man for next year's Season 14, as newcomer Pete McHale will take on a guest role in one of the Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson-led 2024 episodes.
The debut special made it clear Rose faced plenty of struggles growing up transgender, despite the overwhelming love and support of her mother Donna.
At one point when Rose and Donna are walking through the street, several of her school classmates hurl abuse at her from their bikes with lines like "looking good Jason," clearly addressing her by her dead name.
20-year-old Finney is coming into Doctor Who with only two acting credits, with the transgender actress best known as a breakout star of the British coming-of-age romance drama Heartstopper where she played Elle Argent.
Rose Noble's Big Doctor Who Future After THAT Ending
Warning - The rest of this article contains major spoilers for Doctor Who, "The Star Beast."
"The Star Beast" came with a major reveal for Rose Noble - she inherited the meta-crisis genius buried within her mother. This meant she essentially chose her own name inspired by Rose Tyler, fell in love with the Noble family shed due to its similarities to the TARDIS, and designed toys based on the aliens Donna met.
So, once the Doctor restored Donna's memory, the same was true for Rose, who briefly gained time lord-level genius to help save London from Beep the Meep before she and her mother gave it all up. After which, Rose even proclaims, "After all these years, I'm finally me."
The episode even appeared to indicate Rose's own transgender identity came due to the meta-crisis because The Doctor is male, female, "and neither, and more" - referring to how the time lord has now been portrayed by both men and women:
DOCTOR: "We're binary."
DONNA: "She's not."
DOCTOR: "Because the Doctor's..."
DOCTOR: "And female."
ROSE: "And neither, and more."
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Russell T. Davis confirmed Finney's Rose has a bright future in Doctor Who with "more appearances to come" due to his fondness for working with her:
"She’s absolutely terrific, and she has more appearances to come, simply because I adore working with her."
Rose is expected to show up again in the 60th anniversary episodes, likely in Special 3, "The Giggle," but Davis seems to be teasing she will return beyond that during Ncuti Gatwa's reign as the 15th Doctor.
Now that Rose has built her own bond with the Doctor, it's easy to imagine her cropping up for the occasional episode in the future, although she may not be accompanied by Donna every time, unfortunately.
Doctor Who Special 1, "The Star Beast," is streaming now on Disney+ along with BBC iPlayer in the UK & Ireland.