As November 2023 of the year of our Good Lord steadily draws near, Doctor Who enthusiasts’ anticipation of the smash hit sci-fi series relaunch, marking its 60-year BBC anniversary, abounds. Teasers for the series relaunch have already begun. Social media posts regarding are bouncing off the edge of the universe. Avid Who fans’ minds are on overdrive containing the knowledge that one of Who’s most beloved actors, David Tennant will be reprising his iconic role – at least for three specials, as “the doctor”. If that isn’t enough to get even the dullest of Who fans to leap off their couches with excitement, one of Tennant’s most beloved companions, Donna Noble, portrayed by actress Catherine Tate will likewise reprise her role traveling alongside “the doctor”. And if that isn’t enough to set the Who universe ablaze, Russell T. Davis will reprise his role as series show runner moving forward. The question now looms, why has David Tennant been regenerated by the BBC yet again to play “the doctor”?
If we glance back “through time”, as it were, of the Doctor Who universe, we become astutely aware that no other actor has been brought back to star in the series more than Tennant. That, and employed extensively to star in spin-off television series, books, and audiobooks.
There was a considerable spell of time post-Tennant’s departure from Doctor Who when the actor had nothing to do with the series. This was during the age of the Matt Smith’s Doctor Who. Producers of Who had taken a substantial chance by employing Smith – the youngest actor to ever play “the doctor” at that time. It is safe to say that the majority of Who fans were secretly crushed by Tennant’s absence. No offense Matt.
Tennant went on to reprise his role as “the doctor” three years after his official leading role departure in 2010, during a special in which Tennant starred alongside Smith on November 23rd, 2013. The episode was titled “The day of the Doctor” and co-starred the late John Hurt (Aliens), and former British pop sensation, Billie Piper, who once again portrayed the doctor’s companion, cockney lass, Rose Tyler.
The special received high critical acclaim yet was unable to soar to the untenable galactic heights of Tennant’s prior doctor who performances. Although, as many would argue, the blame was not to fall entirely upon Tennant.
In 2013, the BBC’s Doctor Who was operated by writer turned show runner, Stephen Moffat. Moffat had previously written for Tennant episodes during the Russell T. Davis Who years, however, in 2013 Moffat did not have the colorful childlike protection of Davis guiding his darker, moodier, and perhaps more sinister Doctor Who product.
It is safe to suggest that Tennant enjoyed his portrayal of “the doctor” under the tutelage of Russell T. Davis. Tennant’s natural bubbly nature was further allowed to blossom into overdrive and quite effortlessly with Davis’ childlike nature behind him. The rest, as they say, became legendary BBC television programming.
When Who fans viewed the final episode of the Chris Chibnall (show runner) Doctor Who series last October, they witnessed an event they never deemed possible. Former Ms. Doctor Who actress, Jodie Whitaker, who had been for lack of a better description, a BBC social experiment, regenerated into David Tennant’s “the doctor”. From that moment on the world of social media might as well have climbed into the Tardis, pushed the throttle into hyperdrive, danced across the galaxy and through various time periods! Tennant’s reprisal of the role in addition to Russell T. Davis returning to steer the course of the Tardis’ trajectory had fans celebrating near and far. But then, much to a great many chagrins, it was suddenly announced that Tennant was not returning to the role full-time. However, this does not entirely exclude the probability that Tennant may one day return and assume “the doctor” role. After all, most of the earlier “doctors” were mature, and as they say, with maturity births wisdom, and isn’t this precisely what “the doctor” was intended to exude?
Given the fact that Doctor Who’s entire 2005 resurrection success was clearly predicated upon Tennant’s inclusion within the series, it does become a fair assumption to presume that Tennant is perhaps the greatest actor to ever don “the doctor” persona. Perhaps it’s because Tennant’s real-life personality is closely associated with “the doctors”. That is of course merely speculation – unless someone out there knows Tennant personally and has additional information they may offer.
For now, we think we speak on the behalf of many Who fans who are (try saying that ten times quickly) extremely happy to at the very least be receiving three special episodes with Tennant at the helm once more. If it was up to fan opinion, we are almost certain that they would demand Tennant remain “the doctor” for as long as time permits.