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'Doctor Who' Is Now a Disney Plus Exclusive in the US for David Tennant's Return

Future episodes of the iconic sci-fi show find a new home for global viewers as fans look forward to the 60th birthday specials.

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David Tennant is back in the Tardis.
BBC

Legendary sci-fi show Doctor Who is getting a new look, and the regenerated version of the much-loved series will join fellow sci-fi icons Star Wars and Marvel on Disney Plus. Former star David Tennant is back in the lead role for a series of special episodes in late 2023, and they'll be exclusive to Disney's streaming service.

The news was announced by actor Ncuti Gatwa in an interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan on Tuesday. Gatwa is set to take over from Tennant as the show's star at some point during three special episodes beginning November 2023, which lead into a new series.

Swapping stars is a key part of the show's longevity: The lead character, a mysterious time traveler known only as the Doctor, is an alien with the power to change bodies. Which is how a special episode on Sunday saw current star Jodie Whittaker morph into Tennant, who previously played the 10th version of the Doctor between 2005 and 2010. Another returning name is showrunner Russell T Davies, the award-winning writer who was responsible for the show's hugely popular revival in 2005.

Davies takes charge again in time for Tennant to headline the show's 60th anniversary celebrations, the series having originally begun in November 1963. The three anniversary specials will air on the BBC in the UK, but BBC America will no longer be the show's home in the States.

Disney confirmed to CNET that the deal with the BBC includes future episodes, but that past episodes are not transferring to Disney Plus at this time. The revived series (from 2005) is currently available to watch on HBO Max, while you can (and should) watch the vintage series on Britbox.

For anyone keeping count, Tennant is now both the 10th and 14th Doctor. Gatwa will be the 15th Doctor (in the official numbering scheme -- it's way more complicated than that, but we'll save that debate for the fan forums). 

"I love this show," said Davies in a statement to press, "and this is the best of both worlds -- with the vision and joy of the BBC and Disney Plus together we can launch the TARDIS all around the planet, reaching a new generation of fans while keeping our traditional home firmly on the BBC in the UK." 

Appropriately enough, the show's diamond anniversary sees a shiny new version of the show's classic diamond-shaped logo, which was used onscreen and in books and merchandise from 1973 to 1980.