Doctor Who Returns – Special 3: The Giggle

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It’s back! Everything is new (apart from the lead characters) and these 60th Anniversary Specials are a big huge deal – even if you don’t usually watch it.

Why such a fuss? Well, for the background and lead up to these 60th Anniversary ‘Specials’ and the NEW (15th) Doctor, take a look at my detailed Post HERE. This is the last of the THREE Anniversary Specials that brought back David Tennant and Catherine Tate reprising their roles. Missed the previous Specials? Here are my reviews…

Special 1 – The Star Beast

Special 2 -Wild Blue Yonder

Back to this one. It was shown at 6.30pm yesterday evening, but we were enjoying our annual Christmas meal with the neighbours, so I’m watching it on catchup. ☹️


Just mild spoilers ahead – nothing will be revealed that will spoil this episode if you’ve still to watch it!

To set the scene: this is the episode where it all comes together (apparently!), and all our questions – that started with the first Special – are answered. The first Special was ‘full-on’, whilst number two, was just plain creepy. For tonight’s episode, this is the last time we’ll ever see our two leads acting out their characters together.

Or, is it? 🤔. There’s been so many conflicting stories online and (deliberately) very little official information online. That lack of an ‘official’ line has cranked up the anticipation to 11 (well, for this fan, anyway). 👍👍

For us die-hard fans, this episode sees the return of a ‘known’ adversary – No, not the Daleks, not the Cybermen and not the Sea Devils! The short clip below, released earlier on the day of transmission, gives it all away (so avoid clicking below, if you prefer to be surprised!)

YouTube player

Did you click? 🤔

It’s now Sunday, 3.40pm, and I must be last Whovian on the planet to watch this pivotal episode. As an added bonus, after nearly 40 years, Mrs P is alongside (and she’s not a sci-fi fan at all and has always avoided the show! – no prompting required! It’s a Christmas miracle! 😀).

To ensure I didn’t ruin my own viewing experience, I completely avoided social media, emails from friends, as well as today’s newspapers – and there was PLENTY to avoid. All that I know about this one is: the identity of the adversary; the iconic regeneration scene contains a twist; and the Showrunner, Russell T Davies, has commented that the programme might upset some diehards!

“The Giggle will reveal controversial new Doctor Who mythology”
Russell T Davies, Showrunner, Doctor Who 2023

And one thing us ‘diehards’ don’t like is messing with Who lore! 😲. But if anyone is going to pull it off, it’s RTD! Here we go then… see you in an hour… 👍

The bigger budget for the now re-invigorated Who was clearly in evidence – maybe even more so than the previous two Specials (and that’s always good news, given the ribbing we fans have had about the ‘wobbly sets’ over the years). Tonight’s story is a serious piece punctuated by the occasional humorous quip, all helped by the chemistry between the two leads. There’s a real sense of danger from the off and look out for at least two familiar faces from the past where the familiarity works very well to create a narrative that will please casual and regular viewers alike. Everyone’s acting is top-notch and the whole look and feel of the production is right up there with the best of sci-fi in recent years – including the cinema circuit.

The story itself flowed well and it was good to see the first Doctor (William Hartnell) – albeit briefly. There’s a trend these days for sci-fi shows to feature a musical piece, so prepare yourself!

There’s a complexity to the plot, but let’s face it, most people will have watched it for how they manage the exit of the leads and introduce the ‘new guy’. Certainly, the regeneration scene was very different and taken in a direction that’s never been done before. I won’t reveal any more details here, but it will, as expected, divide fans. For this Whovian, I think it worked.

Overall, just like the first two Specials, this one was just as grand in its size and scale. If I have one criticism, it was that there wasn’t quite enough action for me. Having said that, the expanded ‘talkie bits’ were vital for taking the whole Who mythology forward. I don’t normally comment on the audio clarity, but they’d really pumped up the LFE channel. So, if you’ve got a sub-woofer in your setup, you might want to give it the evening off! 🤔

If you’re wondering, this IS the episode where the Doctor regenerates into his next incarnation. Ncuti Gatwa now assumes the Doctor’s duties and in the short time that he was onscreen, he appears to have effortlessly slipped into the role.

Overall then, a massively important episode for us Whovians. For casual viewers, I think they’ll be a genuine interest in how the ‘new’ Doctor evolves. For those yet to be convinced and would rather watch something else, I don’t think this was the one to convince newcomers – maybe the Christmas Day outing might have a better chance?

Pulling the three Anniversary Specials together, taken collectively, these have been a massive success for the BBC. Viewing figures are now very respectable once again and they would appear to have reversed the decline. Some will see the departure of David Tennant (and to a slightly lesser degree, Catherine Tate) as ‘the end of an era’ (again), but the final act leaves enough optimism for maybe a spinoff? Clever ol’ BBC/Disney/Sony/Bad Wolf Productions! 👍

Well, that’s Who for a few weeks. Next stop? Christmas Day at 5.55pm! The episode is called ‘The Church on Ruby Road’. A new Doctor, a new Companion! And Goblins (apparently!). Oh, and a Christmas single with the proceeds going to Children in Need..

The synopsis reads:

Long ago, on Christmas Eve, a baby was abandoned in the snow. Today, Ruby Sunday meets the Doctor, goblins, stolen babies and, perhaps, the secret of her birth.”

Trailer released online: Saturday, December 11, 2023 right after this episode…

YouTube player

See you on Christmas Day! 👍👍

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