Doctor Who was filled with surprises this year. First was the announcement that Russell T. Davies, the man most responsible for bringing Doctor Who back to television in 2005, would be returning as showrunner. Then came the special “The Power of the Doctor,” which saw Jodie Whittaker regenerate not into Ncuti Gatwa, slated to play the next Doctor, but into former Doctor David Tennant, who will star in a 60th Anniversary three-parter next November.
Joining Tennant will be his third companion Donna Noble, played again by Catherine Tate. But the first teaser for the upcoming episodes hints at the return of even more unlikely characters from the Time Lord’s past.
The teaser highlights the expected fallout of the Doctor’s regeneration, as Tennant plays a confused Fourteenth Doctor battling aliens and Gatwa’s soon-to-be Fifteenth Doctor asks just what the hell is going on here. Before Gatwa’s arrival, Tennant’s Doctor needs to keep the latest group of baddies, which includes Neil Patrick Harris’ mysterious showman, from ransacking England, all while also keeping Donna from remembering their time together. (As established in the series 4 episode “Journey’s End,” Donna’s mind had become overwhelmed by her adventures as the DoctorDonna, forcing him to wipe her mind of all memory of him. Should the memories ever return, her brain will burn out, killing her.)
For the large majority of viewers, there’s no risk of remembering two of the alien races shown in the 60th Anniversary trailer. The first is an insectoid-looking group blasting at soldiers and the Doctor on a residential street. The other is a cute lil’ kitten-esque creature with gigantic eyes, who looks up and pronounces the insect-men “Monsters.” And that makes sense, right? Surely, the fearsome insect people engaging English soldiers must be monsters and the fluff ball must be a poor little innocent. Reasonable as that assumption may be, comic book readers know the truth.
As introduced in Doctor Who and the Star Beast, a comic strip published in 1980 issues of Doctor Who Weekly, that cat-like creature is a Meep, a race encountered by the Fourth Doctor. The story written by Pat Mills and John Wagner, and penciled by the legendary Dave Gibbons, revealed the Meeps to be controlled by a villainous mastermind named Beep the Meep. And despite their frightening appearance, the insectoid Wrath Warriors are actually police officers trying to take down Beep the Meep’s criminal empire.
The Doctor has been pulled back into the conflict between Beep the Meep and the Wrath Warriors several more times throughout the years, not only in the pages of Doctor Who Weekly, but also in the Big Finish audio dramas. The 60th anniversary specials will mark the first appearance of Beep the Meep and the Wrath Warriors in live action.
Although the trailer doesn’t feature Sharon Davies, the first comic-only companion and a frequent guest star in Beep the Meep stories, we will get another new addition to the Who Universe: Yasmin Finney appears as Rose (no relation to Billie Piper‘s Rose Tyler).
We’ll just have to wait to see how this all adds up next year when Doctor Who returns to celebrate its 60th anniversary in November 2023.