With Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary just around the corner, anticipation is growing for the three special episodes set to air next month. Each special will feature a different director. Being a big anniversary event, Doctor Who’s 60th Directors have a big job on their hands. So, who will be taking the lead on each special to make them a spectacular vision? Let’s meet them!
The Star Beast – Rachel Talalay
Somewhat of a Doctor Who veteran at this point. Rachel Talalay debuted on the show nearly ten years ago, directing the Twelfth Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) first series finale ‘Dark Water/Death In Heaven’ in 2014. She then returned to direct the Twelfth Doctor’s two other finales, ‘Heaven Sent/Hell Bent’ in 2015 and ‘World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls‘ in 2017. Her most recent credit is Peter Capaldi’s final episode, the 2017 Christmas special ‘Twice Upon a Time’. Until now. Making her triumphant return to the franchise by directing the opening special ‘The Star Beast‘.
After being so long apart, this special will reunite the Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate). Rachel Talalay, says that characterful moments like that are at the heart of the episode. Speaking in Doctor Who Magazine about the special, Talalay explains:
“Actors of this calibre don’t lose sight of that, and neither must I. Russell has written it so brilliantly, so I have to make sure these moments work. They’re the emotional core of this episode, and this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the Doctor and Donna back together, setting eyes on each other again.”Rachel Talalay via Doctor Who Magazine
Renowned for being a fan-favourite director on Doctor Who, she made her directorial debut with the 1991 American slasher film ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’. She has since directed shows such as ‘The Flash’, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ and ‘Riverdale’. Speaking to DWM, Talalay said:
“I read all three and my first reaction was “wow!”. The first one is classic family Who. It’s bringing back that world Russell left, with David and Catherine. And then after that, it becomes more expansive, with Russell really throwing his massive imagination at it, while also being thoughtful about setting up the next series.”Rachel Talalay via Doctor Who Magazine
This special takes inspiration from the 1980s Doctor Who Weekly comic strip Doctor Who and the Star Beast, which featured the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). The episode will include the same creatures as the comic strip, the Wrath Warriors and Beep the Meep. Speaking to DWM, Talalay said:
My episode features lots of people in lots of scenes. There’s soldiers, there’s battles, and I thought, “I haven’t always succeeded in doing the action stuff, with loads of extras, that well in the past. This is really scary for me.” So I was determined to do that part really, really well. It’s all about embracing the stuff that scares you.”Rachel Talalay via Doctor Who Magazine
Wild Blue Yonder – Tom Kingsley
Notably, it is the episode that we know the least about out of all three. Tom Kingsley makes his Doctor Who debut directing the second special ‘Wild Blue Yonder’. All we know about this special so far is that the Doctor and Donna Noble land on a spaceship which is in the middle of hostile action, and the TARDIS abandons them due to the ship’s HADS (Hostile Action Displacement System). Leaving them stranded. That’s all we’ve got.
Tom Kingsley is best known for directing the BBC sitcom Ghosts and the BAFTA-winning Channel 4 sitcom Stath Lets Flats. He also directed three episodes of the BBC’s adaption of Adam Kay’s bestselling book This is Going to Hurt. At the beginning of his career, alongside his friend Will Sharpe, they received the Evening Standard Most Promising Newcomers Award and earned a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding Debut, for directing the feature films Black Pond and The Darkest Universe.
Speaking to DWM about the script and directing the episode, Kingsley said:
“I opened mine and just tore through it. Even as a reading experience, it was so exciting. It’s got a lot of similarities with two of my favourite films, Aliens and The Thing. It’s a little bit of the DNA of those, mixed in with Doctor Who.”Tom Kingsley via Doctor Who Magazine
The Giggle – Chanya Button
The Toymaker returns to Doctor Who after 57 years in the final special directed by Chanya Button. Debuting in the third season in 1966, the Toymaker (played by Neil Patrick Harris) will wreak havoc on the human race in this concluding episode of the 60th anniversary.
Button began her career studying an English Literature degree at the University of Oxford. She then took part in the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme, which led her to start directing theatre. She then worked as a runner and assistant director on many of the Harry Potter films. Then in 2015, she directed her first feature film, the black comedy Burn Burn Burn. Her first TV directing credit was in 2019 with the BBC’s war drama World on Fire.
Speaking to DWM about her episode, Button said:
“It was just the most expansive thing I’ve ever read. Every page I turned, it was a different world and a different idea and a different sort of bonkers and inspiring adventure.”Chanya Button via Doctor Who Magazine
On directing The Giggle, speaking to DWM, Button said:
“It’s challenging, in the most positive way possible, for someone to go: “Here’s a big idea, let’s see how you do it.” Being a director on this was very much like being a magician – having to pull every trick out of the bag, and speak every language.”Chanya Button via Doctor Who Magazine
Onwards To Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary!
Now that we’ve met all of Doctor Who’s 60th Directors, it’s safe to say the episodes are in very good hands. Mixing Russell T Davies’ writing with this wealth of directing experience, it looks like the 60th will be one big crazy ride.
Doctor Who will return on November 25th 2023, with “The Star Beast“, the first in three special episodes as the show’s 60th Anniversary headliner event. David Tennant returns as the 14th Doctor alongside Catherine Tate as Donna Noble. Ncuti Gatwa’s first episode as the Fifteenth Doctor will air over the festive period, while his series 14 will debut in 2024 with Millie Gibson. Disney+ will be the exclusive home for new seasons of Doctor Who outside of the UK and Ireland.