The Sex Education actor, 31, finally made his first appearance on screen as the 15th Doctor as David Tennant’s incarnation of the character regenerated.
However, all was not as it seemed as a huge twist saw both versions of the Doctor remain on screen, rather than one regenerating into the other as normally happens on the long-running sci-fi series.
Ncuti’s debut came when ‘creepy’ returning villain The Toymaker, played by Neil Patrick Harris, shot David’s Doctor through the chest, forcing him to regenerate.
The Toymaker had turned human beings on Earth mad, before challenging the Doctor to a game – which put the planet at stake – forcing the Time Lord to accept to try and save Earth.
Ncuti Gatwa made his hotly-anticipated debut in Doctor Who during the third and final 60th anniversary special on Saturday night
Shooting the Doctor, the Toymaker said: ‘I played one game with the First Doctor, I played the second with this Doctor, so your rules declare that I must play the third game with the next Doctor!’
His companions Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and the returning Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford) ran over to support him as he regenerated, with fans expecting that to be the end for David’s character.
Melanie reassured him: ‘You’re going to be someone else, it doesn’t matter who, because every single one of you is fantastic!’
While David tearfully said: ‘It’s time, here we go again! Alonzee,’ however he didn’t regenerate and still remained, as he appeared uncertain about what was happening.
He asked Donna and Melanie: ‘Could you, pull? It feels different this time,’ and as the pair pulled on each of his arms, Ncuti appeared alongside him, as the two Doctors stood alongside each other in a massive twist.
Making his hotly-anticipated debut, Ncuti’s Doctor shouted: ‘No way!’
David said: ‘You’re me,’ while Ncuti replied: ‘No, I’m me. I think I’m really, really me! Oh-ho-ho I am completely me! Don’t just stand there, push!’
When asked what happened, Ncuti’s Doctor said: ‘Bi-generation, I have bi-generated. There’s no such thing, bi-generation is supposed to be a myth, but-!’
The Sex Education actor, 31, finally made his first appearance on screen as the 15th Doctor as David Tennant’s incarnation of the character regenerated
However, all was not as it seemed as a huge twist saw both versions of the Doctor remain on screen, rather than one regenerating into the other as normally happens on the sci-fi series
The pair of Doctors then faced off with The Toymaker together and managed to beat him at his own game, sending the villain out of existence.
David’s Doctor said: ‘Best of three, and my prize, Toymaker, is to banish you from existence, for ever!’
‘No, you can’t. But I – not fair, please,’ the Toymaker said, before giving the ominous warning: ‘My legions are coming.’
After banishing The Toymaker from the real world, both David and Ncuti’s versions of the character stayed on screen, and went back to the TARDIS with Donna.
David asked Ncuti: ‘How’s this going to work, you and me?’ as the huge twist saw two Doctors remain after a regeneration for the first time ever.
Ncuti told him: ‘You’re thin as a pin love, you’re running on fumes,’ before urging him to slow down and ‘stop’ rather than running and travelling in the TARDIS.
Ncuti then paid tribute to a whole host of former companions, including the late Elisabeth Sladen, who portrayed Sarah Jane Smith and sadly died in 2011.
‘Sarah Jane has gone, can you believe that for a second?’ Ncuti said as they sweetly paid tribute to the iconic actress.
Ncuti then told David’s Doctor to try and lead a life of his own, to which David said: ‘I’ve never let the TARDIS go, never, that would hurt.’
In another huge twist, Ncuti managed to transform the one TARDIS into two separate ones as a ‘reward’ for them winning the game against The Toymaker in his world where game overrides logic.
The episode ended with Ncuti heading off for more time-travelling adventures in the TARDIS, while David stayed on Earth with Donna and her family in a sweet ending for David’s character as they gave him a happy ending after his return to the role.
At the end of the episode, titled The Giggle, more drama was teased as a trailer for the Christmas special aired as Ncuti takes over the role permanently from David.
The drama-packed clip saw Ncuti’s Doctor was seen heading off on more adventures, with new companion Millie Gibson making her debut.
Taking to X – formerly known as Twitter – to react to Ncuti’s much-awaited Doctor Who debut, viewers heaped praise on the scenes.
Fans were thrilled to see David’s Doctor get a happy ending after his brief return to the show, while they also gushed over Ncuti’s ‘show-stealing’ performance.
One wrote: ‘Just brilliant… and the ending we all wanted for DT. Dr Who is in safe hands with #Ncuti.’
The very unexpected twist saw Ncuti’s Doctor emerge alongside David as the pair ‘bi-renegerated’ – with them both surviving the process
Ncuti’s debut came when ‘creepy’ returning villain The Toymaker shot David’s Doctor through the chest, forcing him to regenerate
Taking to X – formerly known as Twitter – to react to Ncuti’s much-awaited Doctor Who debut, viewers heaped praise on the scenes
Another said: ‘Ncuti stole every scene he was in anyway imo. I’m obsessed with him. Cannot wait for Christmas.’
A third gushed: ‘Ok, Ncuti! We see you! Let’s have some fun, Doctor!! So happy for Christmas Day #DoctorWho again!!! This looks absolutely brilliant.’
Another said: ‘Love love love LOVED tonight’s episode! Everything about it was fantastic! Neil Patrick Harris was phenomenal. Ncuti Gatwa is a delight. Creepy, fun, thrilling, emotional – Wonderful stuff.’
Viewers also heaped praise on Neil’s performance as The Toymaker on the BBC show on Saturday.
The American actor, 50, portrayed devious villain The Toymaker, who last appeared on the drama in 1966, when he was portrayed by Michael Gough in The Celestial Toymaker four-part storyline.
Showrunner Russell T Davies previously described Neil’s version of The Toymaker as the ‘greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced’ as the villain made his grand return in the episode titled The Giggle.
Putting his own twist on the character, viewers were left seriously impressed by his performance as they took to social media to gush over his ‘creepy’ performance and his character’s eerie laugh.
Writing on X – formerly known as Twitter – fans argued that Neil was ‘perfect’ for the role as they admitted they were left with ‘chills’ watching his performance
One said: ‘What a gift to have Neil Patrick Harris on this episode,’ a second wrote: ‘Well, Neil Patrick Harris does creepy pretty good.’
A third commented: ‘Ten Seconds into #DoctorWho and @ActuallyNPH has me in the palm of his hands! This is a villain!.
Another tweeted: ‘Not even a fan of Neil Patrick Harris and he’s already giving me chills as the Toymaker #DoctorWho,’ and one added: Neil Patrick Harris is perfect as The Toymaker.’
‘He is recognising me, are you not pleased Doctor, to see me again after so many years!’
The original Toymaker caused William Hartnell’s first Doctor to become invisible for two episodes in 1966 and had a number of living toys as his servants.
Neil Patrick Harris also sent fans wild as he appeared as creepy villain The Toymaker, sending human beings on Earth mad and challenging the Doctor to a game with high stakes
Neil portrayed devious villain The Toymaker, who last appeared on the drama in 1966, when he was portrayed by Michael Gough in The Celestial Toymaker four-part storyline
Putting his own twist on the character, viewers were left seriously impressed by his performance as they took to social media to gush over his ‘creepy’ performance
Showrunner Russell T Davies previously described Neil’s version of The Toymaker as the ‘greatest enemy the Doctor has ever faced’ as the villain made his grand return in the episode
The Toymaker was an enigmatic being from outside of time and time, and David Tennant’s Doctor theorized that he had allowed the villain to break into reality by playing a game at the end of the universe.
In the second 60th anniversary special Wild Blue Yonder, the Doctor cast salt on the ground in a bid to trick two villains, which allowed The Toymaker to travel into the real world.
On Saturday, eerie scenes saw the Doctor come face-to-face with The Toymaker once again as the villain turned the human race mad and turned humans into puppets for his enslavement and amusement.
Upon meeting The Toymaker, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) asked The Doctor: ‘Who is he?’ to which The Doctor appeared terrified as he said: ‘The Toymaker.’
‘We meet again Doctor,’ The Toymaker declared, before disappearing to play ‘hide and seek’ as his creepy laugh echoed around his toyshop.
As Donna and the Doctor tried to find their way around his toyshop, which became a maze of doors, Donna asked: ‘Who is the Toymaker, what is he?’
To which the Doctor explained: ‘When I was young, I was so sure of myself, I made a terrible mistake. I let the TARDIS fall into another realm… where science is a game and all of us are toys.
‘He found his way into reality and I think it’s all because of me. I got clever didn’t I, I cast that salt at the end of the universe, I played a game and I let him in.’
The Doctor appeared terrified of The Toymaker as he tearfully told Donna that he didn’t think he would be able to save her from the formidable villain.
As well as his terrifying nature and ability to change reality on Earth, The Toymaker also brought an injection of song and dance into the episode as he invaded UNIT.
The villain suddenly appeared in UNIT’s base singing and dancing to the Spice Girls’ anthem Spice Up Your Life and proceeded to turn people and weaponry into toys to win the battle.
In a tense face-off with the Doctor, The Toymaker then shockingly shot the Doctor, forcing him to regenerate.
Both David and Ncuti’s Doctors then managed to defeat The Toymaker at his own game, banishing him from existence forever.
However, it appears that it is not the end, as a mystery hand was seen picking up the Toymaker’s gold tooth as it was left behind – after The Toymaker had told the Doctor how he defeated villain The Master and trapped him in the tooth.
Elsewhere in the episode, Bonnie Langford made her hotly-anticipated return, over three decades after she originally boarded the TARDIS.
On Saturday, eerie scenes saw the Doctor come face-to-face with The Toymaker once again as the villain turned the human race mad and turned humans into puppets
Donna and the Doctor tried to find their way around his toyshop, which became a maze of doors as The Toymaker tricked them with his games
The Doctor appeared terrified of The Toymaker as he tearfully told Donna that he didn’t think he would be able to save her from the formidable villain
Elsewhere in the episode, Bonnie Langford made her hotly-anticipated return, over three decades after she originally boarded the TARDIS
Bonnie made her debut on Who back in 1986 as Melanie alongside the Sixth Doctor Colin Baker
The actress reprised her role as the Doctor’s former companion Melanie Bush, who was working at UNIT alongside returning character Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave).
Bonnie made her debut on Who back in 1986 as Melanie alongside the Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, and went on to be the companion for the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy.
She came face-to-face with David’s Doctor as he was brought into UNIT to help figure out who was sending the human race into madness, with everyone becoming convinced they were right, causing havoc on the streets.
Laying eyes on Melanie once again, the Doctor grinned and threw his arms around her and said it was ‘the best news’ that she was working with military organisation UNIT.
Melanie told Donna: ‘I was like you, I was one of his companions!’
She then revealed that she had spent time travelling the stars after leaving the Doctor, before deciding to return back to Earth.
She shared: ‘I had to face up to the one thing I’d been running away from, I had nothing, my family all gone. But then Kate offered me a job, and here I am!’