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. Now the 60th anniversary specials have taken it even further, with Catherine Tate’s Donna back, remembering The Doctor, and some aliens threatening them and the fate of the world. All that and this Fourteenth Doctor will be regenerating as the Fifteenth Doctor (Sex Education and Barbie’s Ncuti Gatwa).
Which is all to say: 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. Which means you’re probably going to want to watch them 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.
It’s a bit unclear if Disney plans on releasing it simultaneously with the British premiere time, which would mean fans could find the special on the platform at 1:30 p.m. EST. But if they can’t, it seems like they’d only have to wait a couple hours before it drops there.
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 first episode of the 60th anniversary specials, “The Star Beast,” will air at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 25. You can also find the specials on the BBC iPlayer.
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.
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.
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.