Discover the comics history of the Meep - the adorable creature at the heart of Doctor Who: The Star Beast

Beep the Meep
(Image credit: Panini Comics)

There's a moment towards the end of the latest Doctor Who trailer where returning companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) prods the eye of what she assumes to be a stuffed toy and it squeals and leaps to life. Meet Beep the Meep - the cutest little guy in all of Doctor Who. He's never been seen on TV screens before, but for long-term fans he's a very familiar face. Indeed, perhaps the biggest revelation of the new trailer was that the first of this year's episodes is a direct adaptation of a comics story first published in 1980. 

Doctor Who and the Star Beast is one of the most beloved Doctor Who comics of all time, and it has an impressive creative team behind it. Although we've no idea how faithful to the original the TV version will be, we'll put a big old spoiler warning here, just in case. Don't read on unless you want to know exactly who Beep is and what he's doing on planet Earth…

Beep on TV

(Image credit: BBC)

In The Star Beast, the Doctor - then portrayed by the great Tom Baker - witnesses a crashing starship and follows it to Earth, materialising the TARDIS in the fictional Yorkshire town of Blackcastle. There he encounters a belligerent race of aliens known as the Wrarth Warriors - the big, green, insectoid guys in the trailer. They're not here to invade, however. In fact they only have a single target in mind, a furry liittle creature known as Beep.

Beep is the leader of the Meeps - a once peaceful race who have turned violent after they were mutated by Black Sun radiation. Although he seems sweet, he hides a vicious temperament. He's also extremely cunning, using his cuteness to appeal to local kids Sharon and Fudge, and even winning the Doctor over for a while. The Wrarth Warriors, meanwhile, turn out to be intergalactic peacekeepers trying to bring Beep to justice. The Doctor switches sides and, sabotaging the engines of Beep's ship, enables the Wrarth Warriors to capture him. 

Doctor Who and the Star Beast was first published in issues #19-#26 of the Doctor Who Weekly comic. Written by 2000 AD founder Pat Mills and Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner, and drawn by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, it's often cited as one of the greatest of all Doctor Who comics stories, from a period where the pages of Doctor Who Weekly offered a regular fix of Who adventures that were often the equal of - and sometimes better - than the TV show itself.

Beep the Meep

(Image credit: Panini)

Beep himself became a popular character and would return several times, cameo-ing in 1991's Party Animals before being released on parole in 1996's The Star Beast II, where he came after the Doctor for revenge. Most recently, in 1999's deeply meta TV Action!, Beep travelled to a universe where the Doctor is the subject of the TV show Doctor Who and has a run in with the actor Tom Baker before being defeated by the "real" 8th Doctor.

The upcoming TV episode is not the first time The Star Beast has been adapted for TV. Big Finish Productions released an audio version of the story in 2019, where Beep was voiced by actor Toby Longworth. We don't know who will be bringing the TV version of the character to life just yet (the hot rumor is that it's Miriam Margolyes, but that is yet to be confirmed) or how much of the original story will remain intact, but it's a safe bet that we'll be seeing a lot of Beep merchandise later this year...

You can read Doctor Who and the Star Beast in the Iron Legion trade paperback, published by Panini. The TV adaptation of the story will be broadcast in the Autumn.

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Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.