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How to watch the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials

David Tennant is back in three anniversary specials, airing on Disney Plus

Donna (Catherine Tate) and The Doctor (David Tennant) looking up at something in the TARDIS kind of shocked Image: BBC Studios
Zosha Millman (she/her) manages TV coverage at Polygon as TV editor, but will happily write about movies, too. She’s been working as a journalist for more than 10 years.

When Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor regenerated as the form of David Tennant (as The Doctor), Doctor Who fans were thrown for a loop. Since when does The Doctor repeat regeneration forms? Why does his face look like that??

[Ed. note: The rest of this post contains spoilers for the first special, “The Star Beast,” which aired on Nov. 25.]

Now the 60th anniversary specials have taken it even further, with Catherine Tate’s Donna back, remembering The Doctor, and even inadvertently passing along some of her cosmic knowledge to her daughter Rose (Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney). Still, the end of the anniversary specials (that’s right, we’re talking plural specials, baby) have a lot explaining to do, and a lot of ground to cover — and that’s before we get into the first special’s cliffhanger ending and the promised arrival of the the Fifteenth Doctor (Sex Education and Barbie’s Ncuti Gatwa).

Which means you’re probably going to want to watch the three specials as soon as you possibly can — and here’s how.

How to watch the Doctor Who special on Disney Plus

This is the easiest part of the whole affair: In the States, the Doctor Who anniversary special will be streaming on Disney Plus. No longer do Who fans have to turn to shady streaming sites or navigate the BBC America site.

Disney will be releasing the specials concurrently with their broadcast in the U.K., meaning if you’re watching it on Disney Plus, the new specials will drop on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. PST/1:30 p.m. EST. But the first special, “The Star Beast” is already streaming on Disney Plus.

Can I watch it on BBC?

Well, of course you still can; Doctor Who is a BBC show, after all, and it will be airing there in the U.K. The second episode of the 60th anniversary specials, “Wild Blue Yonder,” will air at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 2. You can also find the specials on the BBC iPlayer (at the same time).

Wait, how many Doctor Who anniversary specials are there?

Oh yeah, you read that right: “The Star Beast” is just the first of the Doctor Who anniversary specials. There are two more — “Wild Blue Yonder” and “The Giggle” — which will premiere on Dec. 2 and Dec. 9, respectively.

“The Star Beast” ends without explaining why Tennant’s form is back. And yet, this Fourteenth Doctor feels something big looming: He feels he’s being drawn back to Donna, and that if fate exists it’s “coming for Donna Noble.”

With the Meep promising to tell someone dubbed “The Boss” about The Doctor and his dual hearts, it seems safe to say there might be something more nefarious than just “fate” that Doctor Who has in store for the pair. But more imminently they’re going to have to deal with the fact that the brand-spankin’ new TARDIS got coffee spilled on the console and now they’re being sent “anywhere in time and space.” Maybe even... the “Wild Blue Yonder”?

What do I need to have watched beforehand?

Technically nothing; having been on the air for 60 years (and, frankly, being a British production with plenty of downtime between seasons) Doctor Who is pretty adept at bringing you up to speed on what you need to know. Although “The Star Beast” would be helpful for picking up if you’re dropping in on “Wild Blue Yonder,” chances are the second special might also have ways of catching you up on what you missed.

If you are interested in catching up on some of what the specials might be referencing, however, you’ll want to check out at least Series 4 of the show (which in the U.S. you can find on Max). That’s the season during which Tennant’s Tenth Doctor pairs up with Tate’s Donna Noble. The pairing would only last the season, with Donna’s fate at the end of the season playing into some of the weirdness of exactly how she (and the Tennant form of the Tenth-now-Fourteenth Doctor) are returning in these specials. You can also watch Tennant’s farewell episodes (which come as a two-parter at the end of series 5), since those might be relevant here, even just to explain a couple of stray jokes about his appearance.

Those episodes won’t be viewable on Disney Plus, only Max.

You can also watch some behind the scenes footage! Though that’s less for catch-up and more like a fun bonus.

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