Did You Solve Doctor Who’s Cryptic 60th Anniversary Teaser?

Binary code, hidden reversed dialogue and a hint of something new in the Eurovision final? Here are the Easter eggs in the new Doctor Who teaser trailer

David Tennant in Doctor Who The Power of the Doctor
Photo: BBC

WARNING: Contains fan theories which include potential spoilers for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary specials

If there’s one thing geeks love, it’s a puzzle, so you can imagine our delight when eagle-eyed Doctor Who fans spotted the BBC airing a sneaky cryptic trailer for the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary specials on Saturday 29th April:

It might be just 10 seconds long, but they’ve packed in an absolute feast of Easter eggs, new information and mysterious clues – unsurprisingly, Twitter went to town on it. Here’s everything we’ve worked out so far about what this might mean for the 60th anniversary specials:

Playing The Trailer in Reverse Reveals Brand New Dialogue

First, we hear the 14th Doctor say: “Cryptic, I hate that.”

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As well as being a bit of fun at our expense, alluding to the teaser’s mysterious format, perhaps this is also a hint that the episode itself is going to involve deciphering lots of strange clues.

We then hear a disturbed-sounding Donna Noble asking “Why did this face come back?”

Of course, we know that Donna’s story ended when the Doctor had to wipe her memory to save her mind from being fatally overloaded by her ‘DoctorDonna’ alter ego, and as the Doctor helpfully reminded us in the previous trailer “If she ever remembers me, she will die”. So it’s fair to surmise this is a reference to the Doctor returning to Donna’s life.

The Teaser “Glitches” Contain Binary Code

Some good old-fashioned code breaking!

First, the Doctor Who Twitter account also tweeted and then deleted this (which translates to 7!@THE#!!’’):

Then, when the teaser’s glitches showed various binary sequences, Twitter got to work, and soon revealed it translated to the phrase ‘The Star Beast’:

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Whovians were also quick to notice one glitch contained a mysterious ‘system issue’ referencing the letters ‘DWW’ and the numbers 19, 26 and 80:

This all seems to point to Doctor Who Weekly issues 19-26, released in 1980, a comic also called Doctor Who and the Star Beast which first introduced Beep the Meep:

We’ve already spotted Beep the Meep in the previous trailer so we know this beloved furry creature will feature in the specials – more on that later.

Fans also pointed out that the use of binary is a nod to poor Donna’s mind being overrun by the DoctorDonna:

Are We Getting a Full Trailer During Eurovision?

One final piece of code seen during the teaser features the letters EV and the numbers 1305. The Eurovision Final takes place on Saturday 13th May – could this mean we’ll be getting something new, like a fresh trailer, during the live final?

There’s already been a link between Doctor Who and Eurovision, courtesy of this Red Nose Day sketch back in March:

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The UNIT Soldier’s Glowing Eyes Could Also Be a Star Beast Reference

One brand-new clip in the teaser appears to show a UNIT soldier with white glowing eyes, which he hides by pulling down his visor. 

This could well be a reference to the Star Beast comic, in which the Meep hypnotises soldiers using neutron radiation:

And So Could The Mysterious Vortex

The other brand-new clip from the trailer shows a time vortex, which some have likened to the Pertwee era credits, however one Whovian has surmised it’s yet another nod to the Star Beast comic:

Could that mysterious vortex be the ‘black sun’, whose radiation turned the Meeps from adorable furry friends into savage invaders?

No, That Wasn’t a New TARDIS

We get the briefest of flashes of the TARDIS doors, which some thought might be a hint at the new TARDIS design:

Impressively, someone quickly figured out it’s actually a clip from the end of ‘Planet of the Dead’:

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This was the first of the David Tennant specials from 2009, in which he finds himself on a London Bus which takes an unexpected detour to the desert planet San Helios, where he teams up with mysterious diamond thief Lady Christina de Souza (Eastenders’ Michelle Ryan) to help get the bus passengers back home.

What’s the relevance of this episode to the 60th anniversary specials? There’s nothing concrete yet, but this was the episode which introduced the “he will knock four times” and “something is returning” arcs which were the beginning of the end for the tenth Doctor.

And Finally, The Hand In A Jar Is Back

One of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clips from the teaser looks like a flashback to the episode ‘Journey’s End’ (one fan handily gives the timestamp 11:54), showing the Doctor’s severed hand imbuing Donna with The Doctor’s knowledge. Yet another sign, as if it wasn’t clear enough already, that the 60th anniversary specials are going to tie up some loose ends from the Doctor’s final adventure with Donna.

Doctor Who returns to BBC One in November 2023