WARNING: contains SPOILERS for Doctor Who episode “The Star Beast” and several modern Doctor Who episodes
The internet is still whirring after that explosive first episode of the three Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials, with the return of David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor and his beloved ex-companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate).
There was certainly a lot to take in: “The Star Beast” saw an alien spaceship crash-landing in London, the arrival of the adorably fluffy Meep and sinister, bug-eyed Wrarth Warriors, the return of UNIT (the international intelligence taskforce that investigates alien activity), and the very real threat that if Donna remembers who The Doctor is, she’ll die.
We also met Donna’s family, including her husband Shaun (The Bill, Hollyoaks) and daughter Rose (Yasmine Finney, Heartstopper), whom we eventually learn has genetically absorbed some of the metacrisis that threatened Donna’s life, subconsciously giving her some of The Doctor and Donna’s memories. These memories present themselves in Rose’s art, with some of The Doctor’s old alien villains appearing as her cute monster stuffed toy – or for those of us of a certain generation, gonk – creations.
And for anybody watching closely enough, a few Doctor Who monsters also seem to have made Easter Egg appearances in some of Rose’s childhood drawings pinned up around the Noble-Temple house.
For newcomers to Doctor Who wondering what was what, and for experts who may have spotted something we missed, here’s our list of confirmed sightings and theories so far – let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
ROSE’S STUFFED TOYS
UPDATE: The BBC has since released this behind-the-scenes insight into Rose’s shed and the Doctor Who-inspired creations she’s made there:
The most famous of all The Doctor’s enemies, the Daleks are a merciless race of mutated aliens who move around inside tank-like travel machines and are determined to “Exterminate!” all other forms of life. They were first devised by the Kaled scientist Davros on the planet Skaro (newcomers will have met him in the recent Children in Need sketch featuring the Fourteenth Doctor), and it was him and his Dalek empire who caused The Doctor and Donna to part ways in series four finale “Journey’s End”.
Intergalactic police force the Judoon are rhino-like in appearance, and first arrived on Doctor Who in series three opening episode “Smith and Jones”, where we meet the tenth Doctor’s new companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). They end up transporting the London hospital Martha’s working at to the moon while they try to apprehend a prisoner in disguise. Donna also met them in “The Stolen Earth”, where they’re part of The Shadow Proclamation trying to stop the Daleks’ invasion of the universe. Donna also encountered them in volume three of The Tenth Doctor Adventures audio stories by Big Finish.
Next to the Daleks, the Cybermen – a race of emotionless cyborgs who brutally convert human beings by force to become like them – are probably the most famous and deadly of The Doctor’s foes. Donna never really encountered Cybermen on the TV show, but they’re a key part of Doctor Who lore, and featured in the same episode as her first ever appearance as “The Bride” on the show, the tragic series two finale “Doomsday” when The Doctor and Rose end up separated forever in parallel universes.
These cute little creatures appeared in the series four opener “Partners in Crime”, when the tenth Doctor and Donna are fortuitously reunited after first meeting in “The Runaway Bride”, and begin their life of adventures together. Adipose are a race of little blobs of fat, which were being covertly bred on Earth by the villainous Matron Cofelia (Sarah Lancashire, Happy Valley) by convincing humans to take a weight loss pill which made them “give birth” to little adipose babies without their knowledge.
The gentle, telepathic Ood are so kind they’re sadly used as an enslaved race throughout much of their history. The tenth Doctor and Rose meet them in “The Impossible Planet”, where the demon Beast possesses them and gets them to kill other people aboard the spaceship by electrocuting them with their translation orbs. Later on in “The Planet of The Ood”, The Doctor and Donna discover the dastardly Ood Operations have been breeding and controlling the Ood for centuries so they can sell them as slaves. Ood Sigma is the one who foresees the coming of the DoctorDonna.
The Beast of Krop Tor
The Tenth Doctor (also David Tennant) met The Beast – a giant, devilish demon with ram-like horns – in series two episodes “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”. It was imprisoned in the planet Krop Tor, which was orbiting a black hole, and The Beast claimed to be the origin of the devil figure in all religions. It possessed several living beings aboard the Walker space expedition, getting them to do its evil bidding, while The Doctor and Rose (Billie Piper) tried to save them – and the universe – from The Beast’s deadly plans.
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) met the Atraxi in his very first episode – “The Eleventh Hour” – in which he also befriends his companion Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). They’re basically a galactic police force in search of a missing prisoner, but all we saw of them was a giant eyeball set in a snowflake-esque spaceship. They were so intent on finding the mysterious Prisoner Zero they believed was hiding out on Earth, they threatened to destroy the planet, so it was up to The Doctor and Amy to save the day.
Our very first glimpse of Donna Noble came in Christmas special “The Runaway Bride”, where she discovered her fiance Lance was secretly in cahoots with the Racnoss, a humanoid-spider alien race who had been hibernating in the centre of the Earth, until its empress returned (in a Christmas star/web-shaped spaceship) ready to awaken all her children so they could destroy the world. Thankfully, The Doctor was there to stop them… and Donna was there to stop him.
We met the Lupari in The Flux episodes of Doctor Who – they’re an alien race that look a lot like dogs. In “The Halloween Apocalypse”, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) discovered the Lupari are species-bonded with humans, so every human has its own Lupar tasked with protecting them. When The Flux threatens Earth, the Lupari send seven billion spaceships to protect the planet, but they’re sadly destroyed by the merciless alien race of warriors, the Sontarans.
ROSE’S CHILDHOOD DRAWINGS
This framed childhood drawing seems to feature a rotund alien with long fingers that could well be the Slitheen, whom we first met terrorising London during series one. These tricksy aliens assume the form of humans by killing them and crawling into their skin, but while wearing these human skins they have a nasty habit of farting loudly (it’s all very silly). They still managed to infiltrate Downing Street, and it was up to the ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and his companion Rose Tyler to stop them from starting a nuclear war to destroy Earth.
One of the drawings in Donna’s kitchen looks like people being attacked by flying orbs, which could possibly be Toclafane, the flying killer cyborgs which The Master (John Simm) used to attack Earth in series three finale double-bill “The Sound of Drums” and “The Last of The Timelords”. As The Master takes over the Earth, we discover the Toclafane are actually the last form of the human race, which had been integrated into floating metal spherical shells.
By the fridge, we see a picture of a human-like pig, which could be a reference to the race of pig slaves the tenth Doctor encountered in series three episodes “Daleks in Manhattan” and “Evolution of the Daleks”. He and Martha Jones discovered the Daleks had been capturing humans to convert into pig-human hybrids which were used for various tasks, including heavy labour and capturing more humans to use for the Dalek’s “Final Experiment”, a race of human-Dalek hybrids.
Finally, is it a coincidence that the Noble kitchen contains a framed image of a custard cream biscuit, which were the Tenth Doctor’s favourite biscuit according to novel Code of the Krillitanes, and — as we learned in series 11 episode “The Ghost Monument” – are also dispensed by the TARDIS, much to the Thirteenth Doctor’s delight. Look closely and there’s also a distinctly TARDIS-blue vase in a prominent position while Donna and Sylvia are talking.
Did we miss any other references to The Doctor’s life in the Noble household? Let us know what you spotted.
Doctor Who continues with “Wild Blue Yonder” on Saturday December 2 on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK and on Disney+ around the world