Warning: contains spoilers for Doctor Who: The Giggle


Doctor Who's final 60th anniversary special, The Giggle, delivered a major twist in its final act, exploding regeneration lore as we know it.

The episode saw the Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) go up against old foe The Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), an elemental force who exists beyond the rules of the universe.

It looked as though this Doctor had met his end when the Toymaker commandeered UNIT's galvanic beam and blasted his foe through the chest... but rather then regenerate, the Time Lord experienced a "bi-generation" – thought to be a myth.

The Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) regenerating in Doctor Who: The Giggle
The Fourteenth Doctor (David Tennant) regenerating in Doctor Who: The Giggle BBC

Fans knew, of course, that Ncuti Gatwa was set to play the Fifteenth Doctor – but rather than having Tennant's Time Lord transform into his successor, this regeneration saw the Doctor split into two, with both incarnations appearing side-by-side.

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The pair worked together to defeat the Toymaker, defeating him in a game of catch and banishing him from our universe forever.

With the crisis averted and the Toymaker vanquished, Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor resumed his travels across time and space – but for Tennant's Fourteenth, another fate lay in store...

Previous episode The Star Beast had seen companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) implore her Doctor not to leave her behind and go whizzing off into the universe again, suggesting: "You could visit with my family. We could do outrageous things like have tea, and dinner, and a laugh.

"You've been given a second chance – you can do things different this time. So why don't you do something completely new and have some friends?"

Donna again urged her friend to take a break from his endless wandering in The Giggle: "I got a glimpse inside your mind... and it's like you're staggering. You are staggering along.

"Maybe that’s why your old face came back. You're wearing yourself out."

With two Doctors now co-existing and the universe safe in Fifteen's capable hands, the Fourteenth Doctor was finally able to take a well-earned break, opting to remain on Earth with Donna and the Noble family.

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who
Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor in Doctor Who BBC Studios/Bad Wolf

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies had previously hinted that the Fourteenth Doctor's arc would resolve with an "extraordinary" twist and "a scene we've never played before in the whole 60 years of Doctor Who."

The Giggle certainly delivered that, effectively bringing one era of Doctor Who – spanning the show's first six decades – to an end and rebooting the series for further adventures with the new Doctor.

Ncuti Gatwa will return as the Doctor in 2023 Christmas special, The Church on Ruby Road, airing at 5.55pm on Christmas Day on BBC One.

The special will see the Fifteenth Doctor, played by Gatwa, take over the TARDIS and be joined by new companion Ruby Sunday, played by Millie Gibson, with the pair encountering "mythical and mysterious goblins".

Doctor Who is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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