The latest trailer for the 60th anniversary suggests that the BBC might be remaking a story from the classic Doctor Who comics.
Fans have long suspected that Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary would be tied to the Doctor Who comics in some way after the earliest trailer showed off a character that resembled Beep the Meep. This villainous character is distinctive in that he resembles an oversized gerbil or rabbit and is actually quite cute in appearance, but in truth he’s a galactic criminal who once led an armada to try and conquer the galaxy.
And whilst there hasn’t been any official word on whether this character from the Doctor Who comics will be appearing in 2023, his identity was all-but-confirmed in the latest trailer for the upcoming specials, which also revealed the episode titles.
And this is where things get really interesting, because the first of these specials is the same as one of the classic Doctor Who comics: ‘The Star Beast.’ This adventure saw the first appearance of Beep the Meep and was originally published in a 1980 edition of Doctor Who Weekly.
In the adventure, Beep the Meep is on the run from the Battle of Yarras – a vicious clash between the Meeps and the Wrarth Warriors. Beep is the sole survivor, and his spaceship crash-lands on contemporary Earth.
The Doctor, meanwhile, follows the flames of Beep’s crashing ship and inadvertently leads the Wrarth Warriors to their enemy. At this point, the Doctor believes that Beep is a victim and tries to shield him, but he later learns from the Wrarth Warriors that Beep is actually being hunted because of his unspeakable crimes.
Apparently, the Meeps were once a peace-loving race until the radiation from a black sun turned them into savage beasts with a taste for destruction. And in the Doctor Who comics, the drive of Beep’s spaceship is powered by the same radiation, and it begins to leak out and infect the inhabitants of the town of Blackcastle, who are turned into zombie-like drones. Beep then uses them to repair his ship so that he can make a star jump and escape.
But will this classic adventure from the Doctor Who comics really be reinvented for the 60th anniversary specials? At the moment, it seems likely; the latest trailer shows the Doctor tracking the flames of a crashing spaceship, as well as an army of robot-like creatures who closely resemble the Wrarth Warriors. And then there is Beep himself (if that’s who it is), plus the fact that the first special uses the same title as the adventure from the Doctor Who comics. (Well, technically it’s ‘Doctor Who and the Star Beast,’ but it’s close enough!)
At the same time, if this is a remake of the adventure from the Doctor Who comics, then there will be major differences. For a start, the original 1980 story featured the Fourth Doctor and K9, plus two school children called Sharon and Fudge who rescued Beep from his ship.
And whilst we can’t rule the inclusion of these characters, the new trailer suggests that it might in fact be Rose (played by Yasmin Finney) who discovers Beep, as it she seems to have hidden him in a closet amongst a number of stuffed toys.
And then there is the mystery surrounding the Fourteenth Doctor’s face, which might be incorporated into the story. He is identical to the Tenth Doctor, and his new clothes were burned onto him during the regeneration in ‘The Power of the Doctor,’ perhaps as the result of an outside influence. Indeed, returning companion Donna Noble raises this question in the new trailer, asking, “Why did this face come back? To say goodbye?”
It is also unclear whether ‘The Star Beast’ will be the first of one huge adventure, or whether the other two specials will be more self-contained. Two other titles were given in the trailer – ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ and ‘The Giggle’ – and we don’t yet know whether they’re part of the (possible) retelling of ‘Doctor Who and the Star Beast,’ or whether they’re separate. Moreover, it’s unclear if these episodes will draw from other stories from the Doctor Who comics.
One piece of casting that has gotten everybody talking, though, is that of Neil Patrick Harris. He is reportedly playing one of the Time Lord’s most powerful foes, and whilst there have been hints that he could be the Celestial Toymaker, his identity has yet to be confirmed. That being said, one of the mini teaser trailers showed a stack of playing cards flying through the air, and these are synonymous with his character.
And so, if this classic Doctor Who villain is indeed returning, could his escapades also be inspired by the Doctor Who comics? Certainly, there is some source material to draw from; there was a 1981 adventure titled ‘The Greatest Gamble’ which saw the Celestial Toymaker take on a professional gambler whilst floating down the Mississippi River, only for the hapless human to be transformed into one of the Toymaker’s creations.
And then there is the 2015 adventure ‘Relative Dimensions’ from the Doctor Who comics, which pits the Celestial Toymaker against the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. This is a more festive tale in which the pair are reduced to the size of toys, but the 2023 specials are scheduled to air just before the Christmas, so it’s possible that this story could have been an influence as well.
Alas, we still have a few months to wait, and there will likely be many more tidbits and trailers before the episodes air, plus the multimedia ‘Doom’s Day‘ adventure starring Sooz Kempner.
In the meantime, how do you feel about a potential remake of a story from the Doctor Who comics? And who do you think Neil Patrick Harris is playing? Let me know in the comments below.