Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary: An Updated Cast List, Including David Tennant And Neil Patrick Harris

David Tennant in Doctor Who
(Image credit: BBC America)

Doctor Who is not far off from celebrating another decade on television, and just like it did with the 50th anniversary, The BBC is planning to do big things for the 60th. Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies will return, and he’s bringing two major stars from the past, David Tennant and Catherine Tate, along for the ride. Anniversaries like this are always loaded with talent, but who can we expect to see when the celebration is finally here? 

We likely don’t know everyone who will appear yet, but we do have a good collection of names so far, including Neil Patrick Harris. Check out who is on the list for the 60th below, and be sure to check back as this list will be updated as more names are announced for the big event. 

David Tennant in Doctor Who

(Image credit: BBC America)

David Tennant

David Tennant is considered by many to be the best Doctor of all time, so it’s always a treat to hear when he’s involved in the Doctor Who franchise. It’s a rare sight to see him in the actual show these days, but considering he reprised his role for the 50th, some might’ve suspected he’d have some role in the 60th anniversary. 

However, I’m sure few didn’t know David Tennant would be announced as the first Doctor to be a part of the fun! As far as why or how Tennant’s Doctor returned, that’s still a topic of much speculation. That's especially true with the news Donna Noble will accompany him in this upcoming journey. Perhaps he’s time-traveling (wild guess, I know), but maybe there’s some bigger story to tell here.

Donna Noble in Doctor Who

(Image credit: BBC America)

Catherine Tate

Catherine Tate stole the hearts of many fans with her performance as Donna Noble in Doctor Who, but her exit was one of the saddest of The Doctor’s companions. Donna absorbed some Time Lord DNA during their journey, and thanks to an electrical shock, it activated and made her just as brilliant as The Doctor himself. Unfortunately, the fun was short-lived, and Donna and The Doctor soon discovered that if they didn’t do something, Donna would die from being unable to cope with the Time Lord DNA. 

The Doctor was forced to erase Donna’s memories of their adventures, which makes one wonder how she’s tied to this upcoming adventure in Doctor Who. This is a sci-fi show, so there’s never any shortage of explanations to how that part of the story will be retconned. Ultimately it’s just exciting to see Catherine Tate in the show and a part of such an important anniversary celebration.

Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who

(Image credit: Instagram)

Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris has played a few doctors in his career, though it’s unlikely that’s who he’s playing when he comes to Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary special. Neil Patrick Harris comes into the fun as one of the greatest enemies The Doctor ever faced, but there’s not much more we know beyond that. It seems like Harris might be playing a familiar villain from The Doctor’s past, but who that could be, we can only speculate. 

As of writing, the most popular Doctor Who-related speculation is that Neil Patrick Harris will play the Celestial Toymaker, who first made his appearance back in the classic run of the series. There are also people out there who think Harris might be playing an iteration of The Master, and given we don’t know anything for sure, they could absolutely be right. Doctor Who isn’t a franchise that likes to spill many secrets if it doesn’t have to, so we may have to wait until the premiere to find out. 

Yasmin Finney in Heartstoppers

(Image credit: Netflix)

Yasmin Finney

Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary is loaded with tons of returning stars, but there are a few fresh faces as well. Joining the cast for the 60th is Yasmin Finney, who will also be one of the first transgender actresses to appear in the franchise. Finney will come into the special to play Rose, a name with quite a bit of history in this show. With all the theories about a multiverse working its way into the story, is it possible that there’s some connection with Billie Piper's Rose Tyler? 

That remains to be seen, but returning showrunner Russell T. Davies has already pointed to the significance of there being two people named Rose in Doctor Who. It’s entirely possible he’s just having a bit of fun or throwing some red herrings out there to draw fans off of more obvious revelations behind this character, though who knows for sure how she’ll come into the story. 

Wilfred Mott watching The Doctor leave

(Image credit: BBC America)

Bernard Cribbins

Bringing back Catherine Tate and David Tennant was definitely a treat, but bringing back Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred Mott is the cherry on top. Wilfred is Donna Noble's grandfather and proved instrumental in a few adventures. It wouldn’t feel right to have an adventure with this duo and him not be involved in some way, so good on Doctor Who for bringing him in for a performance we can’t already see with an HBO Max subscription

Unfortunately, the upcoming 60th anniversary of Doctor Who will serve as one of Bernard Cribbins final acting roles, as he died after filming his scenes. At the same time, the fandom is blessed with the fact that Cribbins was able to suit up one final time as his character and get to be a part of such a major celebration in the franchise before his death. Hopefully Cribbins is honored further with a dedication or some sort of title card when the special airs as a tribute to all he’s given the series over the years.

Sylvia on Doctor Who

(Image credit: BBC America)

Jacqueline King

Such as the case with Bernard Cribbins, it’s equally as distressing to think of a Donna Noble adventure where actress Jacqueline King isn’t in the mix. King portrayed Donna’s mother, Sylvia, in the series, and she was always a character that had a nuanced relationship with the Doctor. She, of course, harbored some resentment towards him after The Doctor was forced to remove a chunk of Donna’s memories, though that seems like a reaction par for the course that any mother would have. 

As for what Sylvia will be up to in the special, my guess will be looking out for Donna’s best interests. Most mothers would be concerned if the man that almost killed their daughter suddenly came back into their life, so I’d expect Sylvia to have some of that fear, even if she did gain some respect for The Doctor years ago.

Shaun Temple in Doctor Who

(Image credit: BBC America )

Karl Collins

Karl Collins didn’t have a massive role in Doctor Who his first outing, but his character Shaun Temple was integral to the story all the same. Shaun was the man who Donna eventually married, and they're likely still together during the 60th anniversary. Seeing Collins return as Shaun will be a treat, and maybe this go around, he’ll be more aware of The Doctor and what he’s about. 

There’s an interesting bit of Doctor Who trivia about Karl Collins that likely isn’t relevant to the 60th anniversary, but worth bringing up all the same. Collins’ character never crossed paths with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, but they’ve both shared the screen in the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History Of You” and appeared in the movie Attack The Block. It doesn’t seem like Whittaker will be around for the 60th given her regeneration episode precedes it, but perhaps we’ll see them reunite again if her casting ends up being announced. 

Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary special is due out in 2023, with some thinking it’ll arrive in November to coincide with the official anniversary month. We’ll have to wait and see, and binge our favorite episodes of the series on HBO Max (opens in new tab) in the meantime. 

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.