BBC confirms when next Doctor Who special will air

The Haunting of Villa Diodati gave us an episode of two distinct halves.Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America
The Haunting of Villa Diodati gave us an episode of two distinct halves.Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC Studios/BBC America /

Anniversary celebrations are always a memorable affair for Doctor Who. Ever since “The Three Doctors” back in 1973, fans know to expect big things for these specials, and there’s a new one right around the corner.

While all other Doctor Who “anniversary specials” have been tied to the program itself, the next special will celebrate the anniversary of the BBC. Formed 100 years ago, the BBC has become one of the leading names in international broadcasting, and Doctor Who is one of its flagship series.

While fans could usually expect Doctor Who anniversary specials to be aired sometime around the show’s birthday in November, the timing of the BBC anniversary special had been less certain. But now, BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore has confirmed that the episode will air in October. “We’ve got a week celebrating our centenary in October, where we’ll have some specials,” Moore said at the Edinburgh International TV Festival. “We’ve got the Doctor Who centenary special.”

The as yet untitled BBC anniversary special will mark the end of the Jodie Whittaker and Chris Chibnell era, with former showrunner Russell T. Davies set to return to the helm afterwards. The episode will see Whittaker’s Doctor regenerate, probably into Ncuti Gatwa. David Tennant, who played the Tenth Doctor under Davies, will also feature in some way. Moore remained tight-lipped when pressed for spoilers, saying that she “cannot tell you anything about that!”

Doctor Who anniversary episodes are always eventful

No matter what happens, the episode will likely be eventful. The tenth anniversary special, “The Three Doctors,” saw former Doctors Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell return to the role and introduced Omega to the series. Meanwhile, the 20th anniversary special “The Five Doctors” attempted to unite all five canonical Doctors. While the episode is well remembered, Tom Baker refused to participate, and William Hartnell had died by that point.

There were similar troubles back in 2013 when Christopher Eccleston rejected a chance to return to the role of the Ninth Doctor. His absence forced then-showrunner Steven Moffat to create the character of the War Doctor for “The Day of the Doctor.” And the less said about what happened in 1993, the better.

After the BBC centennial special, the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who will roll around in 2023. David Tennant will appear in that episode, with Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins returning to the roles of Donna and Wilf Noble. Cribbins sadly died last month at the age of 93.

Doctor Who will return on the BBC and BBC America this coming October.

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