David Tennant and Catherine Tate's return proves Doctor Who is still full of surprises
Is there any other 59-year-old TV show that can surprise and wrongfoot us like Doctor Who?
A few weeks ago on RadioTimes.com, we ran a poll asking Doctor Who fans whether they’d rather have a new Doctor take over from Jodie Whittaker or (following rumours to this effect) or have David Tennant return to the main role.
Little did we know that the fans didn’t actually have to choose.
This week, just seven days after the announcement of new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa the BBC have also revealed that David Tennant is coming back to the show, alongside former co-star Catherine Tate. There’s having your cake and eating it too, but this is starting to look like a dangerous icing overdose.
Really, it’s a genius move from returning showrunner Russell T Davies. If everyone in the world is speculating about and asking if David Tennant is coming back, how do you surprise them? Announce a brand-spanking new Doctor instead when they’re all looking the other way.
And once they’ve got their sights set firmly on their new favourite Time Lord Ncuti Gatwa, how best to shock them again? Well, why not announce the news we all thought had been ruled out the week before? Tennant’s back, just when it had become surprising for it to happen again.
As a fan, it’s easy to feel excited about Who’s immediate future. After nearly 60 years on the air, Doctor Who is still able to surprise and delight fans with its storytelling choices and vision of the future, as well as an affection for its own long TV history. By announcing Gatwa first, the BBC sends a message that the show is stepping into a new era – but by bringing back Tennant as well, they acknowledge what’s come before is just as important.
Ahead of its anniversary year, Doctor Who suddenly looks in rude health. It’s attracting hot new talent, beloved former stars and (in Davies) a showrunner at the top of his game following the success of A Very English Scandal and It’s A Sin. And who knows? It could be that we’ll see even more surprises wheeled out by the Who team over the coming weeks as filming begins on Davies’ new era of the show.
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Already, the future – and the past – of the show are looking bright. Now all we need is a quick TARDIS jaunt to 2023 to see how it all pans out. Anyone got the number of a Doctor?
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