Doctor Who Christmas special 2023: release date, cast, plot, trailer and everything we know

Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) and The 15th Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) in The Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023
Our first look at Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa in the Christmas Special! (Image credit: Lara Cornell/BBC Studios/Bad Wolf)

The Doctor Who Christmas special 2023 will be the first full adventure for Doctor Who's 15th Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, and is bound to be a Christmas TV highlight! 

With the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials over and done with, the stage is set for Ncuti's festive caper, and we've already got a good sense of what we're in. Judging by the trailer (and a Christmas single sung by a goblin!), Ncuti's first stint in the TARDIS will see him taking on a hoard of goblins who are intent on kidnapping and eating children!

Russell T. Davies has returned as the Doctor Who showrunner, and he's brought back the annual Christmas special which he established during his time on New Who back in the 2000s.

Here's what we know about the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023 so far...

Doctor Who Christmas special 2023 release date

The Doctor Who Christmas 2023 special will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 5.55 pm on Christmas Day. Please note in the US it will be on Disney Plus, and will be available at the same time

If you'd like to revisit Doctor Who's past festive adventures whilst you wait, be sure to check out our article explaining how to watch Doctor Who online for free.

If the release date news has you excited for the festive special, you'll be pleased to know that there are even more Christmas specials in the works. In December 2022, Russell T. Davies confirmed he was working on a new Christmas Special.

Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine, Davies said that he was working on the script for a 2024 Christmas Special. Even though he didn't specify whether the 2023 and 2024 festive specials would air around Christmas or New Year, we can at the very least look forward to what's in store in these new festive adventures!

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023 cast

The 15th Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson)

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson are stepping into the TARDIS. (Image credit: James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)

Ncuti Gatwa takes over from David Tennant. This will be Ncuti's first full episode as the new lead, so we'll get a proper sense of his Doctor's personality and how he will stack up alongside the best Doctor Whos. 

We also know that Coronation Street's Mille Gibson is making her debut as the Doctor's latest companion, Ruby Sunday. And there are a few guest stars set to appear, too!

Davina McCall will be playing herself as she joins the cast alongside Michelle Greenidge as Ruby’s mum Carla, Angela Wynter as Ruby’s grandmother Cherry, and ex EastEnders legend Anita Dobson as Mrs Flood.

Davina McCall poses for the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023

Davina McCall is playing herself in the festive special. (Image credit: BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/James Pardon)

In a suitably timey-wimey twist, we already know one of the stars of our next Christmas special, too. At a Doctor Who event held in London, What To Watch learned that Bridgerton's Nicola Coughlan had joined the cast of the 2024 Doctor Who Christmas Special.

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023 plot

The BBC has at last teased some plot details, including the Doctor coming face-to-face with some mythical and mysterious goblins after crossing paths with his soon-to-be companion, Ruby.

"Little is known about Ruby Sunday as she was abandoned on Christmas Eve as a baby. Now living with her mum, Carla and grandmother, Cherry her world is about to be turned upside when she encounters the Doctor and the two set off on their first adventure together...," reveals the BBC.

Janis Goblin and her band of goblins standing on stage in the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023

The Doctor faces some very musical goblins (Image credit: James Pardon/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios 2023)

Is there a Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023 trailer?

A fresh look at Ncuti Gatwa's newest adventure came in the form of the music video for "The Goblin Song", which is Doctor Who's first-ever official Christmas single (raising money for Children in Need).

The video sees the Doctor and Ruby Sunday crawling their way through a pirate ship, watching as a crowd of goblins cheer on Janis Goblin (yes, really) who is up on stage singing about how much the goblins love eating babies, all while a baby slides towards the Goblin King on a conveyor belt. Check it out below: 

Yes! The trailer begins with Ruby spotting the Doctor dancing the night away. After their brief encounter, the pair are reunited clambering up a rope ladder that leads to a flying ship that's home to a huge number of goblins, who are none too pleased by their stowaways' arrival. Check it out below: 

What else is there to know about the Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023?

Just days before the special arrived, the BBC confirmed we'd be getting an extra Whovian treat this Christmas, in the form of a sneak peek at Doctor Who season 14!

The new trailer will air on BBC One right after the special has concluded, meaning we'll get a sense of what's to come when the show returns for its first full season since 2021.

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at

Martin was a Staff Writer with, where he produced a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. Now he works for our sister site Tom's Guide in the same role.

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.