Doctor Who anniversary specials of the past have always been a big event with plenty of fanservice. Oftentimes, anniversary specials have featured the Doctor’s most iconic foes, like the Daleks, the Master, and the Cybermen (or in some cases, all three). But in the case of the upcoming 60th Anniversary specials, showrunner Russell T. Davies is taking a different approach to fanservice. Instead of resurrecting the same old monsters for the zillionth time, he’s instead reintroducing more obscure, often forgotten Doctor Who villains. This will include the Celestial Toymaker, Beep the Meep, and the Wrarth Warriors.
Seeing these villains again will be an absolute treat for hardcore fans of the Whoniverse. Some haven’t appeared on screen in decades, and others have never been on screen at all. But these specials shouldn’t alienate newer, or more casual fans of the show. More than likely, Fourteen will give Donna (and the audience) a brief rundown on just who these foes are.
But, for those wanting to brush up on their obscure Who-lore before November, here’s what you need to know about the villains in the 60th Anniversary trilogy.
Who is Neil Patrick Harris’ villain, The Toymaker?
When the BBC announced that Neil Patrick Harris was cast as a mysterious villain for the 60th Anniversary specials, many speculated he would be the next incarnation of the Master. But some fans thought this was too obvious. Plus, it seemed unlikely that a new incarnation of the Master would appear so soon. After all, we’d just seen Sacha Dhawan’s Master in “The Power of the Doctor.” Some predicted he could be playing the Black Guardian, Omega, or the Celestial Toymaker, and as it turned out, one of those predictions was correct.
On Sept. 23, @bbcdoctorwho confirmed on X/Twitter that “Neil Patrick Harris is the Toymaker.” This caused quite a stir in the fandom, with one half being thrilled, and the other supportive but confused. This is no surprise, as the Toymaker hasn’t been on screen since the season 3 episode of the classic series, “The Celestial Toymaker”. Moreover, few fans of the classic series have even seen this full episode. “The Celestial Toymaker” is one of the infamous “missing episodes” from the 60’s era of the show. (Only “Part 4: The Final Test” still exists.)
So who is this mysterious character? Not even the Doctor seems to fully know, as the Toymaker’s origins are shrouded in mystery. But what is known is that he is a powerful cosmic entity from the chaos before time. He enjoys trapping mortals in his Toyroom dimension and challenging them to unfair and childish games.
In his first and only appearance on screen, the Toymaker, played by Michael Gough, trapped the First Doctor (William Hartnell), Steven (Peter Purves), and Dodo (Jackie Lane) in his Toyroom. He challenged the Doctor to the Trilogic Game, and Steven and Dodo to a series of deadly puzzles, in order to recover the TARDIS and escape. Many of these puzzles involved clowns, toy robots, and living dolls, keeping with his toymaker aesthetic.
Interestingly, the First Doctor stated in this episode that he’d encountered the Toymaker before. This makes for a rare early reference to One’s pre-“Unearthly Child” adventures. Eventually, the TARDIS team won the games and escaped, destroying the Toymaker’s dimension in the process.
But the Toymaker would return with a vengeance, going up against the Sixth Doctor in “The Nightmare Fair.” Although this was a part of Doctor Who’s scrapped 1985 season, the story would later be novelized and adapted into audio format by Big Finish Productions. In another unfinished script, the Toymaker had a sister entity known as Hecuba. (This story, “The Queen of Time,” was also adapted by Big Finish for their The Lost Stories series.)
The Toymaker has since appeared a number of times in novels, comics, and audio plays. When we last saw him (in the expanded universe, at least), the Doctor trapped him in perpetual stalemate in his own dimension.
So what can we expect from this new incarnation of the Toymaker? Certainly, he’ll be challenging Fourteen (David Tennant), Donna (Catherine Tate), and possibly the entire planet with tricks and complex mind games. In the trailer, we can see the Toymaker controlling marionettes, suggesting his plot will involve some kind of cosmic puppetry.
Russell T. Davies may opt to explore the background and lore of this character much deeper. As stated, not much is known about the Toymaker’s origins. Perhaps RTD will create a more concrete origin story for the character, adding some more complexity and dimension (pun intended) in the process.
Additionally, it’s unlikely that these episodes will reference any expanded universe media about the Toymaker, as the TV series doesn’t always do this. But who knows? Given some of the other appearances, the episodes may be a goldmine of EU content becoming canon. (Any reference to “The Nightmare Fair” or Hecuba would get the fandom freaking out even more than it already is.)
Miriam Margoyles as Beep the Meep. But is she cuddly or cruel?
Speaking of EU content, Beep the Meep is an alien that almost exclusively appeared in the Doctor Who Magazine comics back in the 80s and 90s. Voiced by Miriam Margoyles (known to Harry Potter fans as Professor Sprout), the furry creature will be making his screen debut in the first of the specials, “The Star Beast.”
Beep first appeared in a comic story with the same name as the upcoming TV episode. In the strip, he crash-landed in Blackcastle, England while the Wrarth Warriors pursued him. While there, he enlisted the help of human Sharon Davies to hide him from his attackers.
[Warning: Spoilers for the comic story “The Star Beast”, and possibly the 60th Anniversary Specials as well.]
But all was not as it seemed. Despite his cuddly appearance, Beep was actually the vicious dictator of the Meeps. He hated people seeing him as “cute,” and was a sadist who enjoyed inflicting pain on others. The Meeps used to be a peaceful race, but black star radiation mutated and turned them evil. This radiation powered Beep’s ship, and he also used it to mind control the residents of Blackcastle.
The Fourth Doctor and K-9 landed on Earth just in time to save Sharon and the planet from Meep’s schemes. At the end of the comic, the Wrarth finally imprisoned him and flew back off into space.
Like the Toymaker, Beep has since appeared in a few comic strips, audio plays, and novels since his debut. But unlike the Toymaker, he has not been Who-canon until this point in the series.
This could mean lots of things for Beep’s character. For starters, will Beep the Meep still be evil in this version? Most likely, given the title “The Star Beast,” it’s likely that Beep will once again be the titular “Beast.” But this raises another question. Will the TV episode “The Star Beast” be an adaptation/retelling of the comic story or a sequel?
On one hand, an adaptation seems likely. It would preserve the plot twist that Beep is evil because the Doctor wouldn’t remember him. It wouldn’t alienate casual or new viewers, as this would introduce Beep as a new monster, rather than a returning one. Moreover, the trailer hints at the Wrarth pursuing Beep, and Beep putting on a cute persona to fool Donna and Rose Noble (Yasmin Finney). This follows a similar plot to the comic story. It would make the 60th anniversary the Doctor’s first canon encounter with Beep.
But on the other hand, it would be nice to see this as a sequel to the comic story. If Fourteen references meeting Beep before, this would canonize a lot of the early DWM comics (despite some continuity confusion.) Of course, if the Doctor ends up not remembering Beep in the episodes, fans desperate to organize every single Who story into one cohesive timeline could explain this away by saying Fourteen had a temporary memory lapse due to his recent regeneration. Or something like that…
The Wrarth Warriors—the original Judoon?
Like Beep, the Wrarth also debuted in “The Star Beast” comic story and have exclusively appeared in the comics since then. Their appearance will similarly be a huge treat for EU Who fans, especially fans of the comics.
The Wrarth are genetically engineered warriors. The Star Council synthesized them from the five strongest species in the Wrarth Galaxy, specifically to combat the Meep Empire. A Wrarth fleet defeated the Meeps at the Battle of Yarras, and pursued the dictator Beep to Earth. They captured Beep with the help of the Fourth Doctor, Sharon, and K-9.
They continued on as an intergalactic police force, catching criminals across the cosmos. Although the rhinoid Judoon would later take that role in the main series, many long-term fans fondly remember the Wrarth as the original space police.
Like Beep, the Wrarth will probably have a similar role to their original comic strip appearance. Most likely, they’ll be pursuing the Meep dictator to Earth, where he’ll be hiding in Donna Noble’s house. Although the Wrarth will probably initially be antagonistic, it seems likely that Fourteen and Donna will team up with them to bring Beep to justice.
Theory: Other characters and monsters in the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials
Because of the appearance of these more obscure Who villains, it’s possible that other expanded universe characters and creatures may make cameos as well. Although we probably won’t know what these will be until the episodes premiere, many fans are hopeful that the 60th Anniversary specials will make references to the comics and other EU material.
For instance, Fourth Doctor companion Sharon Davies (who, if you include expanded universe material, was the first Black companion in Doctor Who) first appeared in the “The Star Beast” comic story. If the TV episode ends up being a sequel to the comic strip, it would be thrilling to see a brief cameo from Sharon, or even just hear her name mentioned.
More than just expanded universe characters, it’s also likely that some other iconic Who enemies make cameos as well. I personally am relieved that the Daleks or the Master won’t be the main villain of an anniversary special (again). However, I definitely wouldn’t mind the Daleks, Master, Cybermen, Sontarans, or any other iconic Who villains making a brief appearance in these episodes, if only as a tribute to the history of the show.
But, regardless of who appears or doesn’t appear in the 60th Anniversary trilogy, these episodes are sure to be an epic celebration of Doctor Who. From bringing back the beloved David Tennant and Catherine Tate to the stellar visuals, the 60th will certainly delight old fans, as well as draw in plenty of new ones.
Doctor Who returns in November for its 60th anniversary specials. What do you think of the Toymaker’s return? What other character do you want to appear in the 60th? Let us know on Discord or on our social media @mycosmiccircus!