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

Let’s Rank the Catherine Tate and David Tennant Specials for ‘Doctor Who’

Doctor Who is back, and this time, with the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the series, we as fans have been gifted with three specials that bring back Donna Noble (Tate) and reunited her with her Doctor (Tennant).

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So now that we are deep into the specials, which is the best? This is an impossible feat, I know, mainly because seeing the Doctor and Donna back as friends is enough for me to love an episode, and I don’t really need much else more, but in ranking the episodes, we can rank them based on a couple of elements. Still, the specials are just a treat to us all, and we can love that we have them! Ranking them is just fun for now, and we can acknowledge that we just love them all for different reasons, too.

This feels like picking my favorite child, so please know that my ranking is completely subjective and not really based on anything other than simple facts and could easily change on a whim. But, for now, here is my ranking of the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials from worst to best.

3. “Wild Blue Yonder”

David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Doctor Who
(Disney+)

The only reason that this is not the best is because “The Star Beast” gave us the return of Donna Noble as we know and love her and “The Giggle” gave us Ncuti Gatwa and David Tennant as best friends. That’s the true reason. A masterclass of Tennant and Tate’s ability as actors, “Wild Blue Yonder,” is an episode that is completely down to their performing skills. Really calling back to the Russell T. Davies era of the show (prior to his, return as showrunner with these specials, as well), the episode only works because of their skill as actors and their trust in each other.

Fun, weird, and just really an episode that let Tate and Tennant have fun with these characters, it felt like a return to Doctor Who. Still, for an anniversary special, it wasn’t anything particularly special outside of the ending, with the brief, postuhmous return of Bernard Cribbins as Wilf, and so for that, it is placed at the bottom of the pack. But it is still a perfect episode of Doctor Who.

2. “The Giggle

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials,09-12-2023,The Giggle,3,Picture Shows: Neil Patrick Harris and The Doctor (David Tennant),BBC Studios 2023,Alistair Heap
(BBC)

For me, this episode of Doctor Who truly was breathtaking and for the same reason as “Wild Blue Yonder,” the only reason it wasn’t in the number one spot was because “The Star Beast” gave us Tate and Tennant back in action once again. But what makes “The Giggle” such an incredible episode was that energy of the Doctor and the Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris) had against one another.

One of the most important parts of the episode as a whole came when the Doctor is poised to “regenerate” into the next version of the Doctor and we see a bi-generation unfold. The Doctor becomes two halves and honestly seeing Ncuti Gatwa and David Tennant side by side with each other was amazing!

1. “The Star Beast”

Catherine Tate, David Tennant and Yasmin Finney in Doctor Who
(BBC)

“The Star Beast” brought us back Donna Noble so of course it is the best. While I will be saying “The Meep” for probably the rest of my life every single time I see Miriam Margolyes out in the wild, “The Star Beast” as an episode really just felt like the return to the series that many of us had been missing. While Jodie Whittaker nailed playing the Doctor, the Chris Chibnall era of the series did change the feel of the show.

It made it, for many of us, feel like a different series. That isn’t a bad thing but does change what we love about it. With Davies’ return and bringing Tennant and Tate back, “The Star Beast” just felt like taking our own TARDIS back to 2010 and returning to the era of Doctor Who that Tennant and Davies shined in.

Where do the specials land for you? Which is your favorite of the 60th anniversary specials? Let us know which is your favorite in the comments below!

(featured image: BBC)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.