The End of Time ★★★

An all-star cast can't avert the sense of burn-out in David Tennant's swansong

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Story 202
Christmas special 2009 and New Year special 2010

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First UK transmissions
Part One – Christmas Day 2009
Part two – New Year’s Day 2010

Cast
The Doctor – David Tennant
Wilfred Mott – Bernard Cribbins
The Master – John Simm
Rassilon – Timothy Dalton
The Doctor – Matt Smith

Writer Russell T Davies
Director Euros Lyn

The massively popular David Tennant bows out on a ratings high. An action-packed, occasionally garbled two-parter gives plenty of meat to its stratospheric cast.

Aired on Christmas Day 2009 and New Year’s Day 2010, David Tennant’s two-part swansong was a ratings smash, with both episodes reaching the No 1 spot in the UK charts. (The Christmas Day episode attracted 12.03 million viewers; BBC1 and BBC HD combined.)

Tennant was stratospherically popular as the Time Lord and his legion of devotees were bereft to see him go. The tenth Doctor himself wailed, “I don’t want to go!” as, racked with pain and alone in the Tardis, he started to regenerate.

For me, back in the day, The End of Time was a tad disappointing. It resurrected John Simm’s deranged Master, who seemed to have attained superpowers. He could shoot off into the sky from a standing start and, even more bizarrely, created a “Master Race” by transplanting a copy of his own head onto everyone on Earth.

The Time Lords re-emerged from oblivion, then promptly retreated – but were headed by an impressive cast: Timothy Dalton and Claire Bloom. June Whitfield guest-starred, and the delightful Bernard Cribbins, playing Donna’s granddad Wilf, was deservedly elevated to the status of companion. He travelled in the Tardis and became the Doctor’s oldest human sidekick to date.

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Tennant’s tenure was wrapped up with a whistlestop tour of his former friends – from Sarah to Martha to Jack to Rose – before he finally abdicated to Matt Smith. “Geronimo!”