Doctor Who Anniversary: What Actually IS Tales of the TARDIS?

Classic Who serials The Curse of Fenric, The Time Meddler and more now come with exciting cast reunion extras. All the info here.

Peter Davison and Janet Fielding hug in Tales of the TARDIS: Earthshock
Photo: Maxine Howells/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios

If Doctor Who fans ever felt hard done by during any of the show’s previous big anniversaries (disgruntled Who fans?! Never, sir!) then the 60th is here to soothe spirits, hand out cherished gifts, and generally make a bloody big hair-ruffling fuss of the lot of us.

First came news of David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s return in three anniversary specials, then came the ‘roughly 8 million episodes of Doctor Who are coming to BBC iPlayer on November 1’ announcement, then they brought back Doctor Who Confidential under a different name, and now…

…three Classic era Doctors are returning alongside eight former Doctor Who Companions (plus The Sarah Jane Adventures’ Clyde Langer) for new series Tales of the TARDIS.

New Scenes, Classic Who Cast

Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant in Tales of the TARDIS

Not a behind-the-scenes documentary, and not standalone adventures, the six-part series will pair up the stars of classic Who acting in new scenes together, in character, wrapped around episodes from six existing serials.

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Those serials, in Tales of the TARDIS order, are: Earthshock (1982), The Mind Robber (1968), Vengeance on Varos (1985), The Three Doctors (1972-3), The Time Meddler (1965) and The Curse of Fenric (1989).

Appearing in the Earthshock episode are Peter Davison and Janet Fielding as the Fifth Doctor and Tegan, in The Mind Robber episode are Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury as Jamie and Zoe, in the Vengeance on Varos episode are Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant as The Sixth Doctor and Peri, in The Three Doctors episode are Katy Manning and Daniel Anthony as Jo Grant and Clyde Langer, in The Time Meddler episode are Peter Purves and Maureen O’Brien as Steven and Vicki, and in The Curse of Fenric episode are Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

“Omnibus Episodes”

Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred in Tales of the TARDIS

Each Tale of the TARDIS looks as though it will be 90 minutes long and made up of a combination of brand new scenes described as: “woven together with classic episodes to create a feature-length omnibus episodes”. The cast will “step back into character to reflect on their adventures and in the process they discover something new, leaving viewers with a new insight into the story of each timeless pair.”

The new scenes have been written by current showrunner Russell T Davies and Doctor Who writers Phil Ford (Dreamland, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Wizards vs. Aliens, “Into the Dalek” and “The Waters of Mars”) and Pete McTighe (“Kerblam!”, “Praxeus”, Wentworth, The Rising, The Pact).

Over the last few years, Pete McTighe has been the writer of several new scenes featuring former Companions in character that were used to announce Doctor Who “The Collection” disc releases, including Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush, Katy Manning and Stewart Bevan as Jo and Clifford Jones, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton as Tegan and Nyssa, and more. Good training for this particular gig, by the sounds of it.

Fans are already poring over newly released images of the returning cast, spotting background details from past adventures in the reworked TARDIS interiors . See if you can spot what looks to be a Toclafane, Handles the Cyberman, the orange spacesuit, and much more in the new pics.

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Or if you prefer, just have a lovely argument about the colour of the Sixth Doctor’s jacket – Doctor Who is back! The possibilities are endless.

Tales of the TARDIS comes to BBC iPlayer in the UK from November 1