As you probably know by now, Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor regenerated into what aappeared to be the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) at the close of Power of the Doctor. But there is more to this – not only is David Tennant the Doctor once again, he’s been officially labelled the “Fourteenth Doctor” by the BBC website.
And not just the BBC website – incoming showrunner Russell T Davies himself.
“If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way! The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!”
But, with three episodes – presumbly hour-long specials – during 2023 before Ncuti Gatwa finally takes the controls of the TARDIS, one has to wonder if his arrival hasn’t been grossly overshadowed by Tennant’s return. Considered by many to be the best Doctor of the modern era (some say of all time), Tennant is guaranteed to revive Doctor Who‘s profile in favour of the younger actor.
Speaking to the BBC’s Today radio show on Monday morning (at the 2:23 mark), Tennant admitted he was worried about the return, but found it “weirdly weirdly straight-forward.” He also noted:
“There’s bit of a precedent in this show that all Doctors maybe turn up for a special now and again, but usually in cohort with the current team. So to get another run round the park was a little joy I never saw coming. What a lovely, lovely thing to get to revisit something that was such a wonderful, happy, significant time in my life. It’s like being given the loveliest present. It’s been an absolute joy.”
If Ncuti Gatwa is the right successor, that should work well (think Matt Smith replacing Tennant in 2011). But if they don’t pull it off, Gatwa could be – in the words of one online commenter – “hung out to dry” by following what is for maany “the main event.”
It’s a sobering consideration.