In preparation for another exclusive Doctor Who scene on BBC Children in Need night, we reflect on the show’s long association with the charity fundraiser.
Doctor Who is back on our screens this month. Saturday 25th November brings us the first of three 60th Anniversary Specials starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Fourteenth Doctor and Donna Noble.
First however, there’s the small matter of “A special-one-off Doctor Who scene starring the fourteenth Doctor, David Tennant.” Part of the annual BBC Children In Need telethon, the Time Lord is paying a visit to Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks.
The scene also features in an episode of the behind-the scenes show Doctor Who: Unleashed, on BBC iPlayer.
Doctor Who on Children in Need
The upcoming scene continues the long and storied association between the BBC’s annual in-house charity event and Doctor Who.
In the show’s modern era, the night given us short scenes, skits and other appearances. Pre-2005, it hosted a couple of (quite different) anniversary specials – from the beloved to the frankly ridiculous, if wonderfully well-intentioned.
Here’s our round-up of the most memorable Doctor Who on Children in Need moments…
- 1983 – ‘The Five Doctors’
Way back when Doctor Who was celebrating its 20th year, and the telethon was a mere three years old, Children in Need hosted the anniversary story. Starring three Doctors, a recast First Doctor and Tom Baker in previously unseen footage, monsters and companions, the feature-length tale drew us to Gallifrey’s Death Zone to play the Game of Rassilon.
The story was prefaced by an in-studio introduction by the legendary CiN host Terry Wogan, who also welcomed Peter Davison for an interview (in some regions) after the special had aired.
1993 – ‘Dimensions in Time’
Despite Doctor Who being off the air since 1989, the five living Doctors reunited for the two-part mini-adventure ‘Dimensions in Time’. Well, sort of, Tom Baker appeared at the start, while the other four alternated throughout.
The result was gloriously daft, with Doctors and companions flipping in and out of EastEnders‘ Albert Square across three time zones, menaced by the Rani and a (slightly random) menagerie of monsters.
Pleasingly, the adventure also notched up a first meeting between Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor and the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney).
Oh, and did we mention it was all filmed in 3D, with viewers encouraged to vote for which EastEnder would help resolve the cliffhanger, with the second part aired the following night? (Big Ron was robbed!) Sadly, it’s unlikely that this special will ever be repeated or released on home formats. It’s eminently searchable on YouTube though.
2005 – ‘Born Again’ aka Pudsey Cutaway
We first caught a glimpse of David Tennant as the Doctor at the end of ‘The Parting of the Ways’. However, between that episode and ‘The Christmas Invasion’, fans got to know him a little in a short CiN scene.
Dubbed ‘Born Again’, the 7-minute scene explored Rose’s understandably shocked reaction to the Doctor’s regeneration. Again, you can find this on YouTube, or on the Series 2 boxset.
2007 – ‘Time Crash’
In what might be the high point of these modern Children in Need specials, the Tenth Doctor met the Fifth for ‘Time Crash’. Neatly worked into the resolution of ‘The Last of the Time Lords’, the Steven Moffat penned tale sees the Tenth Doctor leaving his shields off and managing to collide with his own past.
Despite being played for real, rather than a skit, the nostalgia was palpable. David Tennant’s Doctor points out the pair’s similarities and concludes by sending “all my love to long ago.” It also provided an in-universe explanation for Fifth Doctor looking older and brought the term desktop theme into the show to refer to the version of the TARDIS control room. None too shabby for an eight-minute scene!
2012 – ‘The Great Detective’
Introduced by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman from a costume store, ‘The Great Detective’ is a prequel to 2012’s Christmas Special.
The Moffat era was plentiful with minisodes. This one served to reintroduce Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax, and set up the Doctor’s newly self-imposed retirement.
2022 – Millie Gibson reveal
Bringing us almost up to date, Children in Need night was the venue for the latest cast reveal. Actor Millie Gibson stepped from the TARDIS to be proclaimed as the Fifteenth Doctor’s companion.
Naturally, pre filming, she was unable to reveal anything but her character’s name, but it was a nice moment nonetheless with a very obliging audience.
BBC Children in Need 2023
This year’s presenters are Ade Adepitan, Mel Giedroyc, Jason Manford, Chris Ramsey, Alex Scott and Doctor Who‘s incoming star Lenny Rush.
Other skits and scenes include Masterchef with puppets and a Race Across The World parody entitled Race Across Yorkshire. Plus, there’s the usual mix of challenges, musical performances and appeal films.
Money raised through BBC Children in Need’s 2023 Appeal will help children and young people overcome the additional challenges they currently face, including supporting children and young people living in poverty, providing emergency support to families in crisis, providing comfort to children feeling sad, lost and alone, helping children overcome social injustice and supporting children to feel safe and secure.
You can support the valuable work of BBC Children in Need by donating via their website.
Additionally, there’s lots of merchandise available, including Doctor Who themed Pudsey Bears of the Fourth and Eleventh Doctors.
BBC Children in Need airs from 7pm on Friday 17th November, 2023.