David Tennant and Catherine Tate aren't the only familiar faces returning to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who. While Tennant and Tate are set to star in the trio of special episodes marking the series' landmark birthday --- as the Fourteenth Doctor and returning companion Donna Noble --- the BBC has announced that it will be delving further into the franchise's history with a six-episode spinoff series that revisits classic stories from across the show's past.
Part of the now officially christened "Whoniverse," which is the name the BBC has now given its new streaming home for Doctor Who, Tales of the TARDIS brings back three Classic-era Doctors, eight former companions, and one of the kids who was once part of Sarah Jane Smith's entourage on The Sarah Jane Adventures. Over six parts, each installment will feature a different duo, with brand-new scenes woven together with classic episodes to create a feature-length omnibus installment. These Doctor Who legends step back into character to reflect on their adventures and in the process they discover something new, leaving viewers with a new insight into the story of each timeless pair.
With new scenes written by showrunner Russell T Davies and previous Doctor Who writers Phil Ford ("INto the Dalek", "The Waters of Mars") and Pete McTighe (“Kerblam!”, “Praxeus”), Tales of the TARDIS allows fans to rediscover the stories they love whilst inviting new viewers to explore the vast mythology of the Doctor.
"The word Whoniverse was invented by fans, so it’s time to give it official status," Davies said in a statement. "And Tales of the TARDIS is one of the greatest delights of my career - to see old Doctors and companions reunited, still fighting the good fight, is a perfect way to celebrate the Doctor’s 60th birthday!"
Tales from the TARDIS will feature the returns of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, and Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, alongside their companions Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), and Sophie Aldred (Ace). Other familiar faces taking part include Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Daniel Anthony (Clyde Langer), Peter Purves (Steven), Maureen O’Brien (Vicki), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrinnon) and Wendy Padbury (Zoe Heriot).
The six episodes the series will revisit are:
- Earthshock (1982): The Doctor and Tegan meet again and remember their terrifying adventure against the Cybermen to save the Earth… and the friend they lost along the way.
- The Mind Robber (1968): Jamie and Zoe meet again and remember their encounter with robots, clockwork soldiers and Medusa in a Land of Fiction governed by a mysterious master.
- Vengeance on Varos (1985): The Doctor and Peri meet again and remember their conflict on the mining planet Varos: a world that entertains its people with sadistic TV broadcasts.
- The Three Doctors (1972-3): Jo Jones and Clyde Langer meet again as she remembers when the Time Lords summoned three Doctors to fight an awesome adversary from Gallifrey’s past.
- The Time Meddler (1965): Steven and Vicki meet again and remember their first adventure battling a time-travelling Monk about to change the course of history in 1066.
- The Curse of Fenric (1989): The Doctor and Ace meet again and remember their battle against an ancient evil in World War Two where a Viking curse is bringing the dead back to life.
Unfortunately, for non-U.K. Whovians, we may not be able to see Tales of the TARDIS for ourselves for some time. According to Davies, the mini-episodes are currently set to be exclusive to BBC's iPlayer platform and it's unknown if they will ever be made available to viewers abroad. (Apparently, Disney+ wasn't involved in the production of these episodes.) One has to hope that at least they might be made part of some future box set, but it's impossible to guess about that at this point. Fingers and all other extremities firmly crossed.
Tales of the TARDIS, along with the rest of the Whoniverse --- which is set to include past episodes, spin-offs, extras like Doctor Who Confidential and more, will launch on BBC's iPlayer beginning November 1. The Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials will kick off with "The Star Beast" on Saturday, November 25 on BBC One in the U.K. and Ireland and Disney+ everywhere else. It will followed by "Wild Blue Yonder" on December 2 and "The Giggle" on December 9.