New 'Tales of the TARDIS' Installment Will Revisit Classic 'Doctor Who' Story "Pyramids of Mars"

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in "Doctor Who"

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in "Doctor Who"

(Photo: Yoshitaka Kono/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)

One of the best things about Doctor Who, as a series, is its willingness to revisit, reimagine, and interrogate its own long-running history. For all that showrunner Russell T. Davies has insisted this latest incarnation of the sci-fi classic, with its new home on Disney+ and the bigger budget to match, is a fresh start and an easy entry point to new viewers, this run of episodes has been full of deep-cut references and plot points. 

The question of whether the strange woman popping up in each episode was actually the Doctor's granddaughter Susan (who appeared on the show back in 1963) has been an ongoing mystery throughout this run of episodes. We've had references to everything from Totter's Lane and the Brigadier to the Toymaker and Harold Saxon. But nothing has been quite as....let's call it, classic as the reveal of the season's Big Bad: Sutekh, a deep-cut villain from the Fourth Doctor era and who is once again played by Gabriel Woolf, 48 years after he first assumed the role.

The BBC has at least realized that any new fans (or even relatively recent fans) probably need a cheat sheet for this, announcing that a new episode of Tales of the TARDIS will broadcast prior to the season finale "Empire of Death" to give viewers some much-needed context. For those who don't know, Tales of the TARDIS is a Doctor Who spin-off that revisits classic stories and features appearances from classic Doctors and companions like Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sylvester McCoy, and Sophie Aldred.

The visible form of Sutekh in "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"

Sutekh, the God of Death, in "The Legend of Ruby Sunday"

(Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)

This latest installment will see current Doctor/companion duo Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson board the Remembered TARDIS to reflect on their recent adventures and, presumably, so that Fifteen can give Ruby a crash course on the first time he encountered this particular enemy. Along the way, the duo will revisit the classic episode “Pyramids of Mars,” the adventure that first saw the Doctor and Sutekh face off. 

Initially broadcast in 1975, the four-part story sees Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and companion Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) land in 1911, where an archeologist accidentally unleashes an alien evil that wants to destroy all life in the cosmos. The classic adventure has now been remastered into a feature-length omnibus episode with a cosmic makeover and updated visual effects. 

“Revisiting the rich history of Doctor Who is endlessly thrilling, and this is no exception,” Executive Producer Phil Collinson said in a statement. “It’s so exciting to bring back Tales of the TARDIS again and to revisit a classic enemy of the Doctor. Gabriel Woolf as Sutekh, returning to terrify a whole new generation of children in a blistering season finale, is what makes this show so special and appeals to so many across the generations.”

Unfortunately for Doctor Who fans who live outside the U.K., we still can't legally watch Tales of the TARDIS for ourselves. Per Davies' Instagram, the mini-episodes are exclusive to BBC's iPlayer platform, and it's unknown if they will ever be made available to viewers abroad. Disney+ wasn't involved in producing these episodes and, therefore, doesn't have the right to air them. (Ed. Note: With the BBC now wholly owning BritBox and BritBox the home of all Classic Who episodes, there is also reason to hope Tales of the TARDIS could wind up streaming on that platform since these specials are all Classic Who-focused.)

We can certainly hope this episode and the six previously aired installments are released as part of a future DVD box set, but we don't have any information about those retail plans. However, the show does view this story as important content for this season, so hope springs eternal. 

There's also the possibility that they might be made available for purchase via a third-party streaming platform such as Apple or Prime Video, in the same way that Doctor Who: Unleashed has been. For those that aren't aware, you can currently purchase the Unleased for all three 60th anniversary installments as well as the most recent Christmas special, and there's every reason to believe the behind-the-scenes episodes for this season will be released once it's concluded. (Fingers crossed, at any rate.) 

This latest installment of Tales of the TARDIS will stream on BBC iPlayer on Thursday, June 20, the night before the Doctor Who season finale, which airs on Friday, June 21, 2024, at 7 p.m. ET in the U.S./midnight. Saturday morning on BBC iPlayer in the U.K. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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