Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition is an occasional publication of Panini. Since January 2002, each issue has offered a detailed view of some aspect of Doctor Who. Though each issue is in fact numbered, most people refer to particular issues by their topic, rather than the number. In choosing to emphasise the content of the individual issue over its place in a larger series, it is occasionally forgotten that Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition is the actual title, rather than a descriptive phrase.
Unlike the seasonal Marvel special issues of Doctor Who Magazine, Panini's Special Edition is a standalone magazine in its own right. Importantly, it is no way a subscriber bonus, as was the original intent of the Marvel seasonals.
There is also little commonality of format between Special Edition and either DWM or Marvel's seasonal issues. Each issue of Special Edition has invariably offered a retrospective view of the programme. Whether reprinting the comic exploits of the Ninth Doctor or exploring the production of the First, all issues of Special Edition deal with a topic that is firmly in the past. This can be easily contrasted with the general practice of the Marvel seasonals. Though there were a few that offered nothing but reprints of past comic strips, the vast majority presented new fiction interspersed amongst non-fiction articles. In other words, most of the seasonals looked very much like regular issues of DWM.
Since January 2002, Special Editions have taken five main forms:
Early issues explored a single Doctor's "era" in great detail. These included essays by writers — among them such prominent names as Paul Cornell, Gareth Roberts and Robert Shearman — giving personal critiques of individual stories from that Doctor's era, and also analyses of non-television appearances by that Doctor. This "series" was completed with the release of the issue covering the Seventh Doctor in February 2005.
Since the new series began, each year one or more issues of this magazine have been produced as a "companion" to a recently-finished series, looking back on the production of each episode, in much the same manner as the earlier archives features for the "classic" series. Similar specials have also covered the production of the spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, but not, to date, Torchwood, as production of that series (or, at least the first three seasons) was covered by Torchwood Magazine.
At roughly the same time, the magazine's editors began a campaign to tell the programme's history chronologically. They thus begain the In Their Own Words series. This series collected excerpts from interviews with Doctor Who cast and crew and presented them in chronological order.
Once, the series allowed a reprint venue for the comic exploits of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors.
Some issues have collected Telesnaps from missing episodes from the Hartnell and Troughton eras.