Doctor Who fans left 'grinning like idiots' as the show delivers multiple blasts from the past!

The Doctor Who Centenary Special key art featuring Jodie Whittaker and the Docto's enemies
The Doc went way back in time for this one. (Image credit: BBC Studios/James Pardon)

Jodie Whittaker's last Doctor Who episode formed part of the BBC's 100th birthday celebrations, so people expected a few nods to the show's 59-year history.

Bt while the more casual viewers enjoyed the action-packed 90-minute special and the anticipation of Jodie Whittaker's 13th Doctor regenerating into a 14th Doctor, for die-hard fans, the show was a nostalgia-packed treat like never before.

A posed in-character on-set shot of Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding), the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Ace (Sophie Aldred), all facing the camera

These two were just the tip of the iceberg for Who fans. (Image credit: BBC)

Fans had been ready for the return of companions Tegan and Ace, who appeared for the first time since the 1980s. However, they were in no way prepared for the plethora of former Doctors and companions who rocked up for the episode.

The plot saw the Doc forced into a regeneration alongside her archenemy The Master. However, her resistance to what was happening took her to a place within her own mind, where she chatted with some previous Doctors. She also found a way to appear to her companions as a hologram, often turning into other versions of herself as she did.

Sophie Aldred Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who Doctor Ace

The seventh Doc has an Ace time! (Image credit: BBC)

Viewers were treated to the fifth, sixth, seventh and eight Doctors — Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann — as well actor David Bradley playing the first incarnation of the Time Lord. The 'Fugitive' Doctor Jo Martin even turned up for a turn.

Peter Davison Janet Fielding Doctor Who Tegan

Tegan faced her past.  (Image credit: BBC)

Old-school fans of the show were delighted when the two 1980s companions got scenes with 'their' Doctor, Ace opposite the seventh and Tegan opposite the fifth. And the fans found it an emotional experience. "I'll be over here grinning like an idiot," said one. While another added, "Yep... tears" about the scenes.

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But the fan-pleasing fun wasn't over. Towards the end of the episode, it was revealed there was a companions of the Doctor 'support group' where the Doc's friends met to swap stories.

As well as more recent companions Dan and Graham (John Bishop and Bradley Walsh), 'classic' companions were also there, with Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford), Jo Jones (Katy Manning) and even one of the Doc's very first companions, Ian Chesterton (played by 97-year-old William Russell) making an appearance.

Doctor Who Melanie Bush Bonnie Langford

Mel did a spell back in the show. (Image credit: BBC)

To say fans were happy is rather an understatement. "Waking up to a world where a whole new generation is meeting Ace and Tegan is just the best feeling. Not to mention those asking about Jo, Mel and Ian too. This feels so right," said one fan. Another added: "This is perfect."

William Russell as Ian Chesterton Doctor Who

Ian first met the Doc back in 1963 (Image credit: BBC)
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David Tennant returns as Doctor Who

The Doc went back to the future.  (Image credit: BBC)

After all that looking back, the episode also ended with something from the show's history – as Jodie's 13th Doctor regenerated into David Tennant's version of the Time Lord, rather than the previously announced 'new' Doctor, actor Ncuti Gatwa.
Viewers were left with no explanation for the strange occurrence  – but all will be revealed when Doctor Who returns next year.

Steven is a writer, editor, and commentator with a passion for popular TV and soap operas. He spent 20 years as the editor of Inside Soap magazine, documenting every punch-up and pucker-up in the Street, the Square and the village. As a feature writer, he’s covered TV crime dramas, period dramas and even some real-life star dramas. He’s been seen as a talking head on more TV clip shows than he cares to remember, has a life-long passion for TV sci-fi – the older and creakier the better – and is a slight obsessive about any reality show featuring hotels.