The new Doctor Who special had a Master reference you probably missed

Doctor Who is back and we're thrilled to have David Tennant and Catherine Tate back on our screens. And the Master is back too, sort of.

Doctor Who smuggled a reference to The Master into its new special

There was definitely a feel of “the gang getting back together” in the new Doctor Who special episode ‘The Star Beast’. We had David Tennant back as the Doctor and Catherine Tate back as Donna, obviously, but there was even a sneaky reference to The Master hidden in there.

Yes, Doctor Who smuggled in a nod to arguably its greatest villain, and you might have completely missed it. And we don’t blame you because we were so excited to have one of our favorite Doctor incarnations back on screen that we could hardly take it all in. But during the scene of the Doctor Who 60th anniversary special in which Donna and Rose Noble first met the Doctor, Donna said “never trust a man with a goatee”.

Of course, one of TV’s most famous goatees has adorned the various faces of the Master over the years. The first Master actor, Roger Delgado, had a goatee and John Simm brought the style back when he made yet another surprise return to one of the best sci-fi series around in 2017.

So it was a nice Easter egg for fans when Donna mentioned evil goatee-wearers in ‘The Star Beast’. In fact, we think it’s even more than just a sly reference for fans who’ve been following the BBC’s best TV series – and not it’s one of the best Disney Plus shows too – for decades. We think it shows that Donna always had a bit more latent memory of the DoctorDonna meta-crisis than we all thought.

As Donna gets closer to the Doctor throughout the episode, memories and details from her adventures with the Time Lord bleed through and into the things she says. She’s also dreaming about some of the adventures they had together.

This nod to the Master is another example of how Donna, somewhere deep inside, still had the memories the Doctor was protecting her from. By the time The Star Beast ending came around, we got the joyous return of the Doctor-Donna and a slightly-too-neat resolution to the problem of the meta-crisis.

To be honest, we’re prepared to let it go. The ending was heart-warming and powerful, also giving us the freedom to get a couple more Tennant and Tate adventures. We’re not prepared to look a gift horse in the mouth just because of a bit of hand-waving in the script. Bring on the next few episodes and the joyous chemistry of the two leads.

And maybe the Master could show up too? After all, we don’t know who Beep the Meep’s boss is just yet. Let the wild speculation begin!

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For more on the return of Doctor Who, check out our The Star Beast review and look ahead to the next Doctor Who special. We’re already counting down the days and, while we wait, we’ll be rewatching the Doctor Who episodes that defined David Tennant’s time in the TARDIS.

Elsewhere, we’ve explained new alien species the Wrath Warriors and looked back at how David Tennant gave us Doctor Who’s most chilling moment 14 years ago.