Barbie (franchise)

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Barbie is an American multimedia franchise revolving around the children's fashion doll of the same name created by Ruth Handler for Mattel, Inc. The titular character is a young American woman who is typically seen taking up a wide array of occupations and hobbies. Other characters in her universe include her on-again-off-again boyfriend Ken, and other relatives and pets.

The Barbie brand is among the most lucrative in the world, expanding beyond its toy line into film and television, among other types of media, including countless collaborations with other brands.

Apart from being referenced on a few occasions in-universe, the brand has also seen two especially notable collaborations with the Doctor Who brand.


Mattel partnered with the BBC Studios in 2018 to release a special, limited edition collector's doll in the likeness of the Thirteenth Doctor. It was originally announced on 2 October of that year, six days before the broadcast of The Woman Who Fell to Earth, with pre-orders for the doll opening the day after said broadcast.[1][2]

Barbie (2023)[[edit]]

The 2023 theatrical film Barbie, a live-action film directed by Greta Gerwig, has several connections with Doctor Who.[3][4]

Firstly, Ncuti Gatwa — who will play the Doctor in series fourteen of Doctor Who — starred in a supporting role as one of the many versions of Ken;[5] Gatwa had to keep his casting in Doctor Who a secret from his Barbie co-stars, so when the official announcement came, Ryan Gosling went to Gatwa's trailer to congratulate him, being a fan of Doctor Who himself,[6] and he was soon spotted wearing a t-shirt that featured fanart produced by Matthew Purchase.[3][7] Subsequently, the Official Doctor Who Twitter account praised the artwork and retweeted it,[8] and Russell T Davies joked that the BBC was going to sue Gosling over the "illegal merch".[9]

Secondly, as a cross-promotion between the film and Doctor Who, a special exhibit of a pink TARDIS was built along the bank of the River Thames, near Tower Bridge, in London on 12 July 2023.[4] As indicated by Barbie's actor Margot Robbie in an interview on BBC Radio 1, the cast of Barbie knew about the pink TARDIS,[10] and @warnerbrosuk released a short video of the constrution on their Instagram page, set to the theme of the film,[11] as performed by singer Dua Lipa.[12] @bbcdoctorwho also released a short video of the pink TARDIS, with the caption stating "This TARDIS runs on pure Kenergy!"[13] Notably, then-current showrunner Russell T Davies clarified on his Instagram account that the exhibit portrayed an in-universe event.[14]

Thirdly, the official @warnerbrosuk Twitter account retweeted a promo pic released by @bbcdoctorwho, captioning it with "This Doctor is also a Ken in #BarbieTheMovie💖".[15] @bigfinish also Tweeted a meme regarding Barbie and Oppenheimer[16] and @bbcdoctorwho Tweeted a meme, Doctor Who version[17] of one of the many Barbie and Ken posters released to promote the film.[18] They also released a work of fanart by @ribeironathana depicting a similar take on the concept.[19]


The aforementioned live-action film most notably featured Ncuti Gatwa among its cast, playing an incarnation of Ken called "artist Ken". In addition, Rob Brydon and Tom Stourton played two other incarnations of Ken.

Marvel Comics published various Barbie publications from 1984 to 1996, including a magazine, and a line of comic books.

In 1996, Doctor Who Magazine issue 243 jokingly compared the costume of Eric Roberts's Master in 1996's Doctor Who television movie to the 1995 Midnight Gala Barbie.