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Every Major Character in ‘Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary Specials

David Tennant's 14th Doctor and the TARDIS in a poster for the Doctor Who 60th anniversary

Doctor Who is back and bigger than ever. In celebration of the show’s 60th anniversary, the BBC commissioned three brand-new special episodes, marking the return of Russell T. Davies as showrunner. While we all know that Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor is on the way, the 60th-anniversary specials have brought back plenty of familiar faces and introduced plenty of new ones, too.

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If you’re itching to know who was cast in all three Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials or you’ve watched one of the episodes and just can’t remember where you recognize someone from (we’ve all been there), we’ve got you covered. But remember—this is Doctor Who, so anything can still happen. There might still be some surprises in store.

**Spoilers for Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials ahead**

The cast of “The Star Beast”

Catherine Tate, David Tennant and Yasmin Finney in Doctor Who

The first of the anniversary specials, “The Star Beast,” saw a seemingly harmless alien known as The Meep crashland in London, a trail of havoc following in its wake. And who should discover it first, but the daughter of one of Doctor Who‘s most beloved companions? This episode featured plenty of familiar faces (and a few welcome new ones, too).

  • David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor: David Tennant, formerly known as the Tenth Doctor, has returned to Doctor Who. Though the reason for the return of this particular face is currently unknown, Tennant’s performance is extraordinary, perfectly capturing that this Doctor, despite having an old face, is a new and improved Time Lord.
  • Catherine Tate as Donna Noble: Also returning for the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who is Catherine Tate, who played the Doctor’s companion Donna in series 4 of NuWho. Donna’s return is both predictably hilarious and emotionally heartfelt as her character finally gets proper closure and she and the Doctor can once again travel the stars without Donna’s tragic fate hanging over them.
  • Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble: New to Doctor Who but certainly not new to our screens, Yasmin Finney plays Donna’s daughter, Rose (and yes, there is a very particular reason she has that name, but you’ll have to watch the episode to find out). Finney is best known for her role in Netflix’s Heartstopper.
  • Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble: Jacqueline King returns as Donna’s mother, Sylvia, and her comedic timing in this episode is nothing short of impeccable. She’s also much more supportive of her daughter and her granddaughter time time around, too.
  • Karl Collins as Shaun Temple: Karl Collins plays Donna’s husband, Shaun. He’s a lovely and personable cabbie who is just as in the dark about his wife’s time with the Doctor and what happened to her. You might recognize him from roles in Death in Paradise, Black Mirror, and Attack the Block.
  • Ruth Madeley as Shirley Anne Bingham: Madeley plays Shirley Anne, the latest scientific advisor for UNIT and a new ally for the Doctor and his friends. Her wheelchair has some super cool and useful gadgets, and she’s not afraid of a fight. Ruth Madeley has previously had roles in British shows like Fresh Meat, Outnumbered, Cold Feet, and Davies’ Years and Years.
  • Miriam Margolyes as The Meep: The legend that is Miriam Margolyes voices The Meep, a Gremlins-like creature hellbent on destroying London. Her performance brings the alien to life brilliantly, and her voice is nearly unrecognizable. Surely, you’ll know Margolyes from roles in The Age of Innocence, Harry Potter, and Magnolia.

The cast of “Wild Blue Yonder”

Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and the 14th Doctor (David Tennant) in a promotional image for "Wild Blue Yonder"

Happily, David Tennant and Catherine Tate are both back for the second of Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials, “Wild Blue Yonder,” which premiered on December 2. After Donna “accidentally” spills her coffee over the TARDIS’ control console in the final scene of “The Star Beast,” the TARDIS explodes, and the duo becomes lost somewhere in space.

Just before they end up in space, however, and meet frightful monsters who attempt to impersonate them, the Doctor and Donna briefly crash-land in an apple tree in 1666. There, of course, they meet Sir Isaac Newton, as portrayed by Nathaniel Curtis, who previously had a role in Davies’ It’s A Sin. His servant, Mrs. Merridew, was portrayed by Susan Twist, whom you might recognize from projects like Brookside, In The Flesh, and one of the U.K.’s most popular soap operas, Coronation Street.

A welcome and joyful sight was the return of the late Bernard Cribbins as Donna’s grandfather, Wilf. At the end of “Wild Blue Yonder,” he greets them once they return to Earth after their harrowing journey. Despite Earth being in danger, Donna’s grandfather waited for them diligently, knowing that the Doctor would return his granddaughter safely. As ever, David Tennant and Catherine Tate had brilliantly infectious chemistry with Cribbins, and their joy at being reunited in real life shines through in the episode. The Doctor’s reaction, especially, is incredibly heartwarming, another instance in which this new Doctor proves that he is so much more comfortable expressing his emotions and sharing his feelings.

Russell T. Davies has since confirmed that “Wild Blue Yonder” featured Cribbins’ last appearance in Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials, as the actor’s health prevented him from shooting any additional scenes. Nevertheless, Cribbins’ short role was a perfect and heartfelt send-off for such a beloved and iconic character. “The Star Beast” previously revealed that Wilf was being taken care of by his family and by Kate Stewart.

The cast of “The Giggle”

Promotional image for Doctor' Who's third 60th Anniversary special, "The Giggle," featuring David Tennant as 14, Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, and Neil Patrick Harris

The third of Doctor Who‘s 60th-anniversary specials, “The Giggle,” went out with a bang. The Toymaker danced to the Spice Girls, and Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor emerged as a result of bi-generation, a brand-new piece of lore in the Doctor Who universe. There was a lot to unpack, but as ever, the characters were the real stars of the show.

  • Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor: Gatwa finally made his debut as the Fifteenth Doctor in “The Giggle”—up next is his very own Doctor Who Christmas special. Though David Tennant’s return has been nothing short of magical, we’re incredibly excited to see Gatwa’s take on this iconic science-fiction character—though his introduction in “The Giggle” certainly proved he’s perfect for the part. Gatwa is best known for his role in Netflix’s Sex Education as Eric Effiong.
  • Neil Patrick Harris as The Toymaker: One of the few American actors to join Doctor Who, Harris portrayed The Toymaker, also known as the Celestial Toymaker. A villain last seen in 1966 opposite the First Doctor, this playful yet ominous troublemaker came to get his revenge, though it seems he may have only provided a taste of the danger that is still to come. Harris is best known for his titular role in Doogie Howser, MD, and for playing Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother.
  • Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge Stewart: Redgrave returned as Kate Stewart, the daughter of one of the Doctor’s old friends, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge Stewart. Kate works with UNIT and is their chief scientific officer, and has worked with the last four Doctors. You might recognize Redgrave from projects like Mansfield Park, Love & Friendship, Grantchester, and Silent Witness.
  • Bonnie Langford as Melanie ‘Mel’ Bush: In a surprising but welcome turn of events, Mel Bush, another one of the Doctor’s old companions—she traveled with the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, to be precise—played a major part in “The Giggle.” Her reunion with the Doctor was nothing short of heartwarming, though, and her work with UNIT leaves the door open for future appearances. Langford is primarily a theater star, having performed in the West End and on Broadway, though you may also recognize her from EastEnders.
  • Charlie De Melo as Charles Banerjee: Charlie De Melo played Charles Banerjee, inventor John Logie Baird’s apprentice, who meets an unfortunate end when he confronts the Toymaker. He has previously appeared in British soap operas like Doctors, EastEnders, and Coronation Street.
  • John Mackay as John Logie Baird: John Logie Baird was a Scottish inventor who demonstrated the world’s first live working television system in 1926. He also created the world’s first working color television, and his inventions play a pivotal role in “The Giggle.” John Mackay has previously had roles in shows like Call the Midwife, Bridgerton, and Russell T. Davies’ Nolly, also as John Logie Baird.

(featured image: BBC)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) has been working as a freelance writer for various entertainment websites for over a year, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV and franchises like Marvel, but she is happy to pitch in with gaming content once in a while if it concerns one of the few video games she actually knows anything about. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.

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