David Tennant makes surprise cameo in Doctor Who flashback

The erstwhile Tenth Doctor had a crucial part to play in a surprising twist

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Fans of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor got a special treat in tonight’s Doctor Who, as the Tenth Doctor appeared in a collection of flashbacks to series four episode The Fires of Pompeii that illustrated a crucial point in new episode The Girl Who Died.

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The archive footage focused on the final scenes of the 2008 adventure, which saw companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) tearfully persuade the Doctor to save a family of Romans from an erupting volcano. As it turned out this rescue affected the Doctor deeply, with Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor realising he’d chosen to regenerate into the face of the family’s patriarch Caecilius (also played by Capaldi) to remind himself to save others no matter the consequences. Who-ray!

David Tennant’s Doctor saves Caecilius and his family

This inclusion of old Doctors in footage happens all the time, of course – series eight’s Listen had a flashback to John Hurt’s War Doctor while the finale Death in Heaven included footage of Matt Smith’s incarnation, to name two recent examples.

In fact, just this series we’ve seen both Tennant and Fourth Doctor Tom Baker appear in brief clips in The Magician’s Apprentice, with Baker and First Doctor William Hartnell’s versions of the Time Lord also alluded to in scenes for The Witch’s Familiar. 

That said, it does always feel a little weird to see previous versions crop up – like if Sean Connery appeared in Spectre to give Daniel Craig a few Bond tips, or Julia McKenzie’s Miss Marple thought back to when she was Geraldine McEwan.

Peter Capaldi as Caecilius in The Fires of Pompeii

But it was a nice surprise to see David Tennant’s Doctor again, at least in lieu of another multi-Doctor story, which is probably a long way off – unless the phrase “one-hander” is being interpreted very creatively in the upcoming episode featuring just the Doctor

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 next Saturday