Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies and star David Tennant open up about bringing a classic 1970s comic character to TV screens. Tennant and Catherine Tate are set to lead three 60th anniversary specials, with the new Fourteenth incarnation of the Doctor reuniting with former companion Donna Noble. The first episode of the 60th anniversary celebrations will air on November 25 with “The Star Beast.”
With the Doctor Who 60th anniversary celebrations kicking off soon, Davies and Tennant made a guest appearance on the BBC’s The One Show to promote the upcoming specials, where host Alex Jones asked about the inspiration behind episode 1, “The Star Beast.” Both Davies and Tennant opened up about their own appreciation for the 1979 Doctor Who Weekly comic strip, before the showrunner explained how he approached bringing the character Beep the Meep into live-action. Check out Davies’ and Tennant’s responses below:
Russell T Davies: Yes, that’s right. Many years ago in 1979, there was a Doctor Who comic strip, which is fantastic, written by Pat Mills, drawn by Dave Gibbons, who are titans of the comic industry, about a little alien, the sweet little meep, falling to Earth. Being lost, wanting to get back home, and making friends with school children. You’d think that was stolen off ET, but it was printed two years before ET. It actually precedes it, it’s a great story. So when I came back, I just thought, “Why not adapt a really brilliant story?”
David Tennant: I remember reading it! I remember getting Doctor Who Weekly as a kid. So, when I opened the script, I was like “Adapted from “The-?” I remember that!”
Davies: It’s part of the fun of it. The Meep is a great creature, so innocent, so sweet, and so lovely, and you just want it to be saved. Where are the toys? Where are the plushies? But, it’s my job to make those things work, and tie that into the story of Donna, who starts seeing aliens and remembering, “What’s going on?” You get that to dove tail, and it’s a mix.
Doctor Who Has A History Of Adapting Expanded Media For Television
“The Star Beast” isn’t the first story from Doctor Who‘s expanded media to be brought to screen by Davies. Within his first season, the showrunner’s first Dalek story drew heavy inspiration from Robert Shearman’s 2003 Sixth Doctor audio drama “Jubilee.” While the television story had a near-future Earth setting as opposed to an alternate, dystopian timeline, both stories featured their respective Doctors following a signal revealed to be the sole surviving Dalek following a bloody war the Doctor had some involvement in.
In the season 3 two-part story “Human Nature/The Family of Blood,” Davies would again bring another tale from Doctor Who‘s “Wilderness Years” to screens. The story is an adaptation of Paul Cornell’s 1995 novel Human Nature. While the Tenth Doctor’s motivations to become human differs from the Seventh Doctor’s in the original novel, the two stories are incredibly similar. Both the TV story and the original novel received short story follow-ups written by Cornell during 2020’s Doctor Who Lockdown watchalongs that suggest both takes still happened somehow within the Doctor Who universe.
Though Beep the Meep may be a surprising character to jump into the main TV series, it is clear both Davies and Tennant hold a great deal of admiration for the source material. Davies’ discussions about tying the story into Donna’s new arc promise knowledgeable viewers will still be surprised, even if they know where the Meep came from. As such, the 60th anniversary adaptation of “The Star Beast” is both a perfect introduction for casual audiences and a welcome celebration of Doctor Who‘s past for familiar fans.