The Star Beast (TV story)

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The Star Beast was the first of the three 60th Anniversary Specials of Doctor Who, broadcast on 25 November 2023 as part of the 60th anniversary, and it was also the first episode in Russell T Davies's return as showrunner. Furthermore, this episode was an adaptation of the 1980 comic strip Doctor Who and the Star Beast [+]Loading...["Doctor Who and the Star Beast (comic story)"], and, as such, saw the first onscreen appearance of the popular Doctor Who Magazine antagonist the Meep.

Notably, a year after the Fourteenth Doctor's introduction in The Power of the Doctor [+]Loading...["The Power of the Doctor (TV story)"], and after his appearances in the post-regeneration comic story Liberation of the Daleks and the mini-episode Destination: Skaro [+]Loading...["Destination: Skaro (TV story)"] for Children in Need, The Star Beast marked the first full onscreen adventure starring David Tennant as the character. The Doctor is shown in this story doubting his own identity, after his recent regeneration gave him the Tenth Doctor's face and body again, the mystery and unknown reason for one of the Doctor's incarnations having the face and body of a previous incarnation became the driving force of the narrative and character arc of the Fourteenth Doctor in the trilogy of specials. The Fourteenth Doctor's sonic screwdriver is also seen for the first time onscreen, along with a new TARDIS control room.

The Star Beast also saw the return of Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, Jacqueline King as Sylvia Noble and Karl Collins as Shaun Temple, thirteen years after their last on-screen appearance in The End of Time [+]Loading...["The End of Time (TV story)"]. The special also marked the introduction of Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble, the daughter of Donna and Shaun.

The Star Beast is notable for resolving what had happened to Donna following her last adventure with the Tenth Doctor, with it being revealed that a portion of the Human-Time Lord Meta-Crisis that had led to the creation of the DoctorDonna had transferred from her to her child. The Star Beast not only saw Donna fully regaining her memories of the Doctor, but the end of the DoctorDonna and the release of the Meta-Crisis, now shared between two brains instead of only one.

Synopsis[[edit]]

A spaceship crashes in North London. Not that Donna Noble noticed; she had other things on her mind. Besides, there's no such thing as aliens — right?! But then one turns up in her garden shed: the Meep. Another — the Doctor — barges into her kitchen. By the time a squadron of Wrarth Warriors shows up on her doorstep, the Noble family must face facts: Donna's past is catching up to her. And her mind is about to be blown...[1]

Plot[[edit]]

In a cold opening set in the vastness of the universe, the Fourteenth Doctor recaps the adventures he once had with Donna Noble. He notes after she had gained his memories and intelligence during their last adventure, he had to completely wipe her mind of their adventures and of the Doctor himself to save her life, as it put her in danger. Donna on the other hand can't shake the feeling that something is missing in her life, and has reoccurring dreams of events she doesn't realise are her repressed memories. However, there's one thing on the Doctor's mind right now that he can't fully figure out or understand: his face. Why has regenerated back into a body identical to his tenth incarnation? The Doctor has only one guess: it has something to do with Donna, and maybe the last time they were together wasn't the end of their story like he originally believed.

The Doctor's TARDIS lands in London in 2023, as the Doctor ventures out and strolls down the road. He wanders into a bustle of people before seeing a woman holding a large pile of boxes, which he tries to help with. He helps her with a few and is shocked to discover she's Donna, who still doesn't remember him. Her daughter, Rose Noble, a teenage transgirl, runs up as Donna becomes distracted with her boxes, missing a spaceship crashing down not too far away. Donna and Rose head off right before Donna's husband, Shaun Temple, drives up in his taxi. The Doctor convinces Shaun to take him to the crash, and, as they drive, he pumps Shaun for information on Donna, claiming to be a friend of Nerys's.

The Doctor manages to access the crash site inside the Millson Wagner Steelworks, even as UNIT establish a perimeter around it. He isolates himself inside and begins to analyse the data from the crash as UNIT scientific advisor Shirley Bingham comes up and offers him her readings on the site. He expresses hesitancy to work with UNIT, as he doesn't fully know who he himself is at the moment. He has his old face again and he's not sure what to make of that, or of the fact that he ran into Donna almost immediately after. Soldiers come up and mention that they've found the escape pod to the wreck and are sending a team after it, prompting the Doctor to leave with them. After the Doctor leaves, UNIT manages to unlock the ship and sends a squad of soldiers to secure whatever's inside. As the door opens, tendrils of light flow out into the eyes of the soldiers, leaving them aglow as they turn and walk away.

Meanwhile, Rose and Donna return to their house and three boys on bikes harass Rose by mockingly deadnaming her. Donna is appalled, but Rose tells her to leave it. They come back to see Sylvia, who's cooking dinner. Donna asks Sylvia if she heard anything about the spaceship that everyone's been talking about, which Sylvia, wanting to stop Donna remembering her travels in the TARDIS, resolutely denies. Rose finds a creature as she's taking out the recycling. The creature names itself the Meep and insists that there are "monsters" after it. Rose hides the Meep in her backyard shed, though Donna stumbles in. Donna first mistakes the Meep for a stuffed toy that Rose designed, before prodding it in the eye, realizing that it's alive and panicking. The Meep tries to calm Donna down and Sylvia intervenes, insisting that the entire thing is just a hallucination. The Doctor shows up at their house after UNIT stops nearby, realising that something must have happened, unlocking the door using his sonic screwdriver. The UNIT team with glowing eyes order those who are guarding the escape pod back to the steelworks and begin to search for the Meep.

The Nobles, the Meep, the Doctor and Shaun, who came in not too long after the Doctor, discuss what to do with the Meep, with the Doctor and Sylvia insisting that he should take the Meep away. The Meep explains to them all that the Wrarth Warriors used to hunt Meeps for their fur, and, when the rest of the galaxy put a stop to the practice, they decided to kill the entire species. UNIT soldiers knock at the door, and, as the Doctor answers it, he scrolls up their visors, seeing glowing eyes. The Doctor closes the door on them right as the back entrance is smashed open by two Wrarth Warriors, the UNIT soldiers crashing through the front almost immediately after. The Doctor, the Noble family, and the Meep escape through the attics on the street using the sonic screwdriver to weaken the brick walls between them. The group drives off and stops in a car park.

The Doctor dons a wig and uses his sonic screwdriver to summon two Wrarth Warriors, Zogroth and Zreeg. The Doctor notes how there was no damage done to the taxi and that the fallen UNIT soldiers weren't killed, merely unconscious. The Wrarth Warriors confirm that their weapons apply an anesthetic. They consider the tale of the Meep to be tragic, as they were a species whose sun turned psychedelic and mutated them all into maniacs bent on conquest. The Wrarth Warriors were summoned to stop their conquest. As they all fought to the death, only the Meep remains. The Doctor asks the Meep if they have anything to say in their defence. Instead, the Meep drops its friendly façade, pulls out a weapon and kills both of the Wrarth Warriors as UNIT soldiers, brainwashed by the psychedelic sun, arrive. The Doctor manages to convince the Meep that he and the Noble family are more useful as hostages than dead.

The Meep takes the group back to the steelworks and shows off the ship present there. The Doctor insists that the ship can't be used; It has a Dagger Drive, which means it gets its power for propulsion by stabbing downwards, and it would use the whole of London as fuel. The Meep laughs and orders the group taken aboard the ship. Shirley subdues the soldiers taking them aboard and frees the Doctor and the Nobles, telling him that he needs to get aboard to stop it from taking off and pointing the family towards an exit. As he runs offs, Donna decides to follow him, calling him "Doctor" despite never learning his name, cluing to Sylvia that her memories are coming back. Donna enters the ship after the Doctor, watching him as he darts around, flipping switches and buttons to prevent the take-off as best he can. The Meep lowers a screen from above, splitting the room in two, with the Doctor and Donna caught on the other side as he still tries his best to stop it. Time runs out as the Meep activates the Dagger Drive.

The Doctor explains to Donna that time's run out, and that there's only one chance left. Donna insists that he needs to do it, even when he says it would kill her, because it will save her daughter, and the lives of everyone else in London. The Doctor lowers the mental block she has in her head and regeneration energy spills out of her. In a flurry of technobabble, the two set to work on dismantling the ship. The drive fails, and Donna collapses. Soldiers of the Meep storm in to kill the Doctor, but the light drains out of their eyes, and Donna gets back up. Rose, having absorbed aspects of the Doctor's mind when she was born that were unlocked when the mental block fell away, turns off the psychedelic sun emitters.

The Wrarth Warriors show up to arrest the Meep and imprison them for ten thousand years, but, as they part, the Meep teases the Doctor that two hearted species are so rare - someone called "the Boss" will be told about him. The Doctor brushes the threat aside, returning to the issue of Rose and Donna having too much knowledge for any human, it was slowed down but not stopped. Rose and Donna acknowledge this, but say that there's just another way, one men would never understand. They decide to just let the power go.

As he returns to his TARDIS, the Doctor suggests to Donna that they take one last trip to see Wilfred Mott. They enter a fully revamped TARDIS interior that the two of them spend some time goggling over, complete with a coffee machine. The Doctor offers Donna a coffee. She joyfully accepts, but accidently spills it on the TARDIS console, causing it to burst into flames and the TARDIS to take off. The Doctor tells Donna they could end up anywhere in time and space.

Cast[[edit]]

Uncredited cast[[edit]]

to be added

Crew[[edit]]

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Special and visual effects

Sound



Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


Worldbuilding[[edit]]

  • Rose points out that the Doctor assumes the Meep's pronouns, bringing up gender identity.
  • A UNIT soldier confirms Red Perimeter and commanded to engage Protocols 5 and 50.
  • TCP is used to clean the Meep's injury.
  • The Doctor invokes the Shadow Proclamation Protocols 15, P and 6.
  • Donna thinks her family could have moved to Monte Carlo or Switzerland if she hadn't given away her lottery money.

London[[edit]]

The Doctor[[edit]]

The Doctor's sonic screwdriver[[edit]]

  • The Doctor creates a holographic screen to analyse data about the Meep's ship. He adjusts the dials at the base of the screwdriver to begin the scan.
  • The Doctor also creates mobile force fields to protect himself, the Meep and the Noble family from both energy and projectile weapon fire.
  • The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to resonate mortar and dislodge bricks to create holes in the walls between the attics of several houses.

Noble family[[edit]]

The Meep's ship[[edit]]

Cultural references[[edit]]

Notes[[edit]]

Comparison with comic version[[edit]]

Doctor Who and the Star Beast is also a comic strip story by Pat Mills and John Wagner, which featured the Fourth Doctor meeting Sharon Davies after she had been tricked by Beep the Meep, with The Star Beast featuring the Fourteenth Doctor meeting Rose Noble during a reunion with Donna Noble that involves Rose being tricked by the Meep. However, while spirit of the original story remains intact, several changes are made to accommodate the change in location and time period, as well as the characters returning from previous television stories.

  • To accommodate the runtime of a broadcasted episode, some story points are redacted and condensed, such as the Wrarth Warriors implanting a bomb in the Doctor's stomach, them confusing him for Beep's accomplice, and the Doctor retrieving a companion from space.
  • While the comic story was set in Blackcastle during 1980, the television story is given a contemporary setting of 2023 and relocated to the city of London.
  • Fudge Higgins, who was prominent character in the comic story, is replaced by Fudge Merchandani, who only shows up in a few scenes and is otherwise uninvolved in the crux of the story. K9 Mark II is removed from the plot entirely, while UNIT and the Noble family replace the army and Mrs Higgins, respectively.
  • Due to being a television story, the Meep's inner-dialogue from the comic is removed entirely, thus the Meep's sinister nature is revealed at the same time as when the characters' find out. In a further deviation from the comic story, Wrarth Warriors Zreeg and Zogroth are killed when the Meep is revealed as a criminal, whereas they lived to arrest Beep in the comic.
  • While Beep only starts speaking English once the Doctor arrives in the comics, the television story has the Meep speak English from his initial meeting with Rose. The Meep also has an injured paw when meeting Rose in an alley, whereas Beep is found bleeding from the side in a shed by Sharon and Fudge in the comic story.
  • The Doctor gets the Meep away from the Wrarth Warriors in a taxi instead of a local bus.
  • Rather than over a cup of tea at a kitchen table, the Wrarth Warriors explain the Meep's villainous nature in a mock trial in a car park.
  • The cause of the Meeps' turn to evil is stated to be their sentient Sun turning psychedelic, whereas it was due to the radiation of the Black Sun in the comic story.
  • The Meep's ship uses a dagger drive for propulsion, whereas the comic story uses a Black Sun drive, which Beep intends to use for a star jump that would create a black hole on Earth.
  • Donna and Rose reverse the dagger drive entirely, stranding the Meep on Earth, whereas the comic story has the Doctor letting Beep initiate the star jump after he sabotages it so the action does not destroy Earth and only moves the ship into Earth's orbit.
  • The Meep is sentenced to 10000 years rather than 3000.
  • The Meep taunts the Doctor as they are taken into custody, rather than trying to beg for mercy and promising to be good as Beep does to Sharon. Additionally, the Meep cryptically tells the Doctor they will tell "The Boss" about him, whereas the comic depected Beep working alone.

Comparison between BBC and Disney+ versions[[edit]]

There are slight differences between the version broadcast on BBC One and the one shown on Disney+:

  • The Whoniverse ident was shown at the beginning of the episode on the BBC version. However, on the Disney+ version, the BBC ident was shown.
  • The Disney ident was shown at the end of the episode on the Disney+ version.
  • The Executive Producers' credits were shown after the title sequence in the BBC version, however, they were shown in the end credits in the Disney+ version.
  • In the end board for the BBC version, the Bad Wolf logo was shown on the left and the BBC Studios Productions logo on the right. In the Disney+ version, they were switched.
  • For the DVD release of this episode, it is shown in its Disney+ form, minus the Disney ident at the end and the BBC ident at the beginning.

Myths[[edit]]

to be added

Filming locations[[edit]]

to be added

Ratings[[edit]]

  • 5.01 million (UK overnight)[6]
  • 7.61 million (Consolidated)[6]

Production errors[[edit]]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • Two of the Ns in David Tennant's credit in the opening titles do not appear in the first frame that they should be visible, and Catherine Tate's credit is partially visible through the TARDIS as it passes by. This error persists across all three of the 60th Anniversary Specials.
  • In the shot of the UNIT HQ, the Leadenhall Building can be seen, despite this being the site of the UNIT HQ in The Power of the Doctor [+]Loading...["The Power of the Doctor (TV story)"]. The onscreen geography also places the new UNIT HQ in the middle of Leadenhall Street.

Continuity[[edit]]

Home media releases[[edit]]

DVD and Blu-Ray[[edit]]

This story was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in the United Kingdom on 18 December 2023, along with Wild Blue Yonder [+]Loading...["Wild Blue Yonder (TV story)"] and The Giggle [+]Loading...["The Giggle (TV story)"]. The Bluray release is encoded to Region B, atypical of BBC releases which usually do not have any kind of region encoding on the disc.

Contents:

Digital releases[[edit]]

This story is available on BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom, in Ultra High-Def (4K). It is also available on Disney+ in other territories.

Gallery[[edit]]

Promotional material[[edit]]

Promotional pictures[[edit]]

External links[[edit]]

Footnotes[[edit]]

Notes[[edit]]

  1. This was confirmed by Juno Dawson in The Star Beast episode of The Official Doctor Who Podcast

References[[edit]]