Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary: 7 Questions We Have About David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor And More After The First Full Trailer

David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor on Doctor Who
(Image credit: BBC)

Two months ago, Jodie Whittaker’s run as the Thirteenth Doctor came to an end on Doctor Who, with the final minutes of “The Power of the Doctor” showing her regenerating into the Fourteenth Doctor. However, rather than a new face gracing the screen, fans were treated to the return of David Tennant, who previously starred as the Tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010, and then popped back up in 2013 for the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor.” Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor is now primed to lead the three special episodes celebrating Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary in November 2023, and on Christmas Day, the first full-length trailer for this special event premiered, which you can watch below.

This trailer delivered a nice appetizer of what’s to come during Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, including looks at Catherine Tate back as Donna Noble and Neil Patrick Harris’ mysterious villainous character. But needless to say there’s still plenty of mystery surrounding this next chapter of Doctor Who that’s being spearheaded by returning showrunner Russell T. Davies. So before 2022 is over and we enter 2023, let’s go over the big questions we have about the 60th anniversary after watching the trailer, starting with the star of the show.

David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor on Doctor Who

(Image credit: BBC)

Why Does The Fourteenth Doctor Look Like The Tenth Doctor?

Up until “The Power of the Doctor” premiered, there was a chance that David Tennant could have been returning to Doctor Who as the Tenth Doctor. But no, instead Tennant is involved as a new form of The Doctor, and to be fair, there is some precedence for this. Remember when Tom Baker’s mysterious Curator told the Eleventh Doctor in “The Day of the Doctor” that “in years to come” he might find himself “revisiting” a few faces, “but just the old favorites.” 

But if Doctor Who was willing to come up with an explanation for why the Twelfth Doctor looked like Peter Capaldi’s previous Doctor Who character, Lobus Caecilius, then surely there has to be a specific reason for why the Fourteenth Doctor looks like the Tenth Doctor, right? It’s unlikely this is just pure chance like most previous regenerations have been, so could some outside force have influenced this regeneration? Is this directly tied into the 60th anniversary’s main story or is it a side puzzle? Even though we won’t spend much time with David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor since Ncuti Gatwi’s Fifteenth Doctor is trailing close behind him (more on that later), I’m eager to learn what caused this form of The Doctor to come into existence.

Catherine Tate as Donna Noble in Doctor Who's 60th anniversary

(Image credit: BBC)

How Does Donna Noble Become Able To See The Doctor Without Dying?

The last time we saw Donna Noble on Doctor Who, she’d just gotten married to Karl Collins’ Shaun Temple (who’s also back for the 60th anniversary, as is Jacqueline King’s Sylvia Noble and the late Bernard Cribbins’ Wilfred Mott), and she still had no clue about The Doctor’s existence. Remember that in “Journey’s End,” The Doctor was forced to erase Donna’s memories of him so that the Time Lord knowledge she’d absorbed wouldn’t destroy her mind. As a result, if Donna were to remember see The Doctor again, her mind would burn up.

The Doctor Who 60th anniversary trailer shows that a decade and a half later, Donna has a feeling that she once had something “lovely” in her life that’s missing. Well, that “lovely” thing is about to come back into her life, with her and The Doctor’s paths crossing for the first time since “The End of Time.” There’s even a humorous moment in the trailer where Donna’s mother tries to block the Fourteenth Doctor from her view, and yet we’ll evidently hit a point in the 60th anniversary when Donna is able to look at the Time Lord without her head combusting. So what changes? Perhaps more importantly, will Donna still be able to see and remember The Doctor once the events of the 60th anniversary are over, or will she return to her previous oblivious state?

Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who's 60th anniversary

(Image credit: BBC)

Seriously, Who Is Neil Patrick Harris Playing?

When Neil Patrick Harris was announced to be appearing in Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, Russell T. Davies said that the Doogie Howser, M.D. and How I Met Your Mother alum is “playing the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced.” From there, popular guesses for the identity of this character included The Celestial Toymaker and The Master, and while the trailer reaffirmed that this antagonist has a flair for theatricality, the BBC is still keeping who this individual is under wraps.

That being said, this character’s blatant eccentricity and multiple costumes, as well a shot of someone stepping into a toy and games store called Mr. Emporium, makes it even more likely that this will be The Celestial Toymaker. Previously played by Michael Gough in the First Doctor adventure “The Celestial Toymaker” broadcast in 1966, this villain only ever made the one televised appearance. In the years since, this role has been criticized for having a white actor play an Asian caricature, so if Neil Patrick Harris is indeed playing The Celestial Toymaker, perhaps this portrayal will be just the thing to improve the villain’s reputation.

Insect humanoid robots in Doctor Who's 60th anniversary

(Image credit: BBC)

What Are Those Robotic Menaces?

Along with Neil Patrick Harris’ character causing trouble in Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, the Fourteenth Doctor will also have to contend with a group of unnamed robotic menaces that look like insect humanoids. The trailer shows these mechanical adversaries fighting UNIT soldiers, and they’re clearly not lacking for firepower. But are these menaces serving Harris’ character, or are they allied with him in some way? What’s their endgame? Could they become recurring Doctor Who foes, or are they a one-time only deal?

Ruth Madelyn as Shirley Anne Bingham in Doctor Who's 60th anniversary

(Image credit: BBC)

Who Is Ruth Madelyn’s Shirley Anne Bingham?

Following Neil Patrick Harris, the next brand-new face to Doctor Who lore to account for in the 60th anniversary is The Level and The Rook actress Ruth Madelyn playing Shirley Anne Bingham. Unfortunately, the name is the only piece of information that’s been revealed about this character, leaving us to speculate for the next year about how she fits into this story. Maybe she’s a UNIT officer who gets looped into this latest round of craziness bombarding the United Kingdom. Maybe she’s someone connected to Neil Patrick Harris’ character, and is either helping him or ignorant of his true intentions. Who knows, maybe this will lead to her becoming a recurring character on Doctor Who.

Beep the Meep in Doctor Who's 60th anniversary

(Image credit: BBC)

How Does Beep The Meep Fit Into The Story?

Yes, that furry creature we briefly see in the Doctor Who 60th anniversary trailer is an established character, though not from the TV side of this franchise. Beep the Meep started out appearing in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip and later appeared in various audio dramas from Big Finish Productions. So the 60th anniversary marks Beep’s live-action debut, but if this is indeed the same Beep from those other projects, then don’t let that cute exterior fool you, because Beep is an evil being that won’t hesitate to kill anyone who stands in its way of conquering everything in site. However, if that demeanor remains intact, though that then begs the question of how Beep is tied to Neil Patrick Harris’ character and those robotic menaces.

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who

(Image credit: The BBC)

When Will The Fifteenth Doctor Arrive, And Where Exactly Is He?

Whatever unfolds in Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary, by the time it’s over, Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor will be on the scene, and from there he’ll start traveling across time and space in the TARDIS with his new companion Ruby Sunday, played by Millie Gibson. Oftentimes a new Doctor debuts at the end of their predecessor’s final adventure, but I can’t help wondering if the 60th anniversary will throw a curveball by having Gatwa appear earlier on. 

But even if that’s not the case, here’s something else to consider: Russell T. Davies informed Doctor Who Magazine (via CBR) that the above stormy sky background was only used for these 60th anniversary previews, as the “actual location” we find the Fifteenth Doctor in “would give away too much!” What could be so spoilery about this location? The first thought that comes to mind is that he’s back on Gallifrey, which was a nuked wasteland the last time we saw it, but that’s just one of a handful of guesses on the table for the foreseeable future.

Most, if not all of the answers to these questions will come when the three Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary episodes air in November 2023. Next year will also mark the show’s shift to streaming exclusively on Disney+ in the United States and everywhere else in the world aside from the UK and Ireland, where it will continue to air on BBC One.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.