Doctor Who 60th: Confirmed and rumoured new and returning stars

It might not be until next year, but that doesn’t mean Doctor Who and science fiction fans are not already thinking about the 60th anniversary of the show.

With a new showrunner (who is also an old showrunner if you know what I mean) in the shape of Russell T Davies and a new Doctor played by Ncuti Gatwa for fans to get excited about, 2023 is most certainly going to be an epic year full of drama and surprises for Whovians. But add to that the prospect of a 60th-anniversary special (or will it be specials) and returning favourites from the history of the show, and it’s almost impossible not to feel the buzz around the show.

Shooting has already begun on the 60th show on location and in the studio, and a series of announcements have been made around new and returning characters for the production. But there’s also bound to be some more surprises – because, well, because that’s what Doctor Who always gives us.

2013’s celebration of the 50th anniversary gave us many returning faces from the show’s history, so fans will have their fingers crossed that RTD will go even bigger as the show celebrates 60 years since its inception.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the names that have been confirmed, and some of the rumours of cast members that may play a role in the 60th celebrations in some form…


Russell T Davies

Yes, the man who rebooted Doctor Who in 2005 after the series had been off air (bar a TV movie in the 90s) since 1989 is definitely back at the helm of Doctor Who and his first mission is to ensure that Whovians have a brilliant 60th birthday party. At this stage, it’s not clear if there will be one or several episodes to celebrate the 60th of the show in 2023, but we know that RTD will be overseeing them after taking over from Chris Chibnall as the showrunnner this year.

Rachel Talalay

The British-American director who directed many of the episodes during Peter Capaldi’s time in the TARDIS is returning for the 60th, and that’s something that pleases Whovians. Known for a fantastic style its been over five years since she’s helmed a Doctor Who episode, so it’ll be interesting to see her add more magic to what’s shaping up to be a very big production.

David Tennant

The Tenth will return for the 2023 special just as he did for The Day of the Doctor in 2013. David Tennant remains one of the most popular Doctor Who lead actors of all time and it was music to the ears of the fans when it was announced he would be reprising his role for the “battle of a lifetime.”

Credit: BBC Studios – Alistair Heap

Catherine Tate

She played Donna Noble opposite David Tennant and was announced to be returning for the 60th special at the same time as David Tennant in May.

At the time, Russell T Davies said: “They’re back! And it looks impossible – first, we announce a new Doctor, and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on earth is happening?  Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.”

Yasmin Finney

The Heartstopper actor will join the series as Rose, yes, Rose!

Speaking of joining Doctor Who Yasmin said: “If anyone would have told 8 year old Yasmin that one day she’d be part of this iconic show, I would have never in a million years believed them. This show has a place in so many people’s hearts, so to be seen as a trans actress by the legend himself Russell, has not only made my year, it’s made my life. I cannot wait to begin this journey and for you all to see how Rose blossoms. Get Ready.”

Russell T Davies added: “Life on Doctor Who gets brighter and wilder, how can there be another Rose? You’ll find out in 2023, but it’s an absolute joy to welcome Yasmin to the Doctor Who set. We all fell in love with her in Heartstopper, one of those shows which changes the world – and now Yasmin can change the Whoniverse!”

Neil Patrick Harris

Russell T Davies introduced the How I Met Your Mother star to the Doctor Who audience earlier this year on Instagram saying: “Neil Patrick Harris, welcome to Cardiff! Playing the greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced. Such a great actor, such a great man, it’s an honour and a hoot”

After more pictures of NPH were released, it has lead many Doctor Who fans to believe that he will be playing an enemy known as the Toymaker who was last seen in Doctor Who in 1966. At this point there is still no confirmation who he will play, but it’s clear that Patrick Harris will have a significant role in the episode(s)


Bernard Cribbins

Sadly the world of entertainment lost Bernard Cribbins earlier this year, but it is rumoured that he had already filmed scenes as his character Wilfred Mott for the 60th anniversary and therefore may make a final appearance in Doctor Who as part of the production.

Bernard Cribbins in BBC show Old Jack’s Boat

Matt Lucas

While in the UK, director Rachel Talalay tweeted a picture of herself with Matt Lucas. There was no message with the picture, but it immediately led fans to speculate that it meant Matt Lucas could be reprising his role of Nardole for the 60th-anniversary special. Or it could be a red herring designed to make us think that… I guess we’ll have to wait to find out!

Matt Smith

Matt Smith was the Doctor in the last significant multi-Doctor event in The Day of the Doctor back in 2013. David Tennant returned for that episode, so there’s intense speculation that Matt Smith, who is currently starring in HBO hit fantasy show House of the Dragon, will be back to see David Tennant again in 2023. Smith continues to regularly talk fondly about his time on the show and therefore it doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that we could see him back on our screens in the capacity of the Eleventh next year.

Matt Smith in House of the Dragon

Karen Gillan

The 34-year-old star of Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the most popular companions of the modern era, having played opposite Matt Smith’s Doctor as Amy Pond.

When asked this year by Wired magazine about a potential return to the show she said:

“Never say never,”

“If I was asked, I would be really interested and keen… it would be really amazing”

She added that if she were to do it, she’d like it to be a part of a mini-reunion with other cast members. “I would like to do it with Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill if I was going to go back.”

Well, a 60th-anniversary reunion could be the perfect place for that to happen, eh? Here’s hoping.

Jenna Coleman

She’s most recently been playing Johanna Constantine in The Sandman on Netflix, but could the companion known to Whovians as Clara Oswald between 2012 and 2017 be returning next year? Since leaving the show Coleman has been in fantastic starring roles in the likes of Victoria and The Cry, but could she be tempted back to see an old friend?

“It could happen in the future, who knows?” Coleman told Best magazine (via Digital Spy).

She added: “I think, at least for a good while, Clara is probably broken down somewhere in time and space, trying to understand how to work a TARDIS!”

The actor went on to talk fondly about her time in the TARDIS, saying: “I took away so much from my time working with Peter [Capaldi], Matt [Smith] and the rest of the cast and crew on something so loved and revered. It was such a special time in my life.”

The Sandman. Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine in episode 103 of The Sandman. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Paul McGann

The Doctor just once in the 1996 TV movie of the show which bridged the gap between classic Who and the rebooted series, Paul McGann remains popular with fans and himself thinks he among others could get a call.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo he said: “It’s my guess, that most of us who are still around will be asked to get involved, and that’s how it should be – because the fans like it that way.”