Could Yasmin Finney's new Rose be the key to Doctor Who's own multiverse?
Is David Tennant playing a parallel universe version of the Doctor for the 60th anniversary special? We examine the evidence.
Multiverses are everywhere right now, whether it's the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or the heartbreaking and visually stunning Everything Everywhere All at Once. Even the rebranded Worlds of DC is trying to cash in on the hype with The Flash. But is Doctor Who next to board the multiverse train?
Jodie Whittaker’s exit coming a year ahead of Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary means fans are expecting something massive in the next 12 months. Alongside the high-profile returns of David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney is paving the way for diversity. Details about these returns and debuts are sketchy, but Finney’s role as “New Rose” could have us opening the doors to the multiverse.
The Doctor and Donna... but not as you know them
Remembering the way we left things, Whovians are questioning how the Doctor and Donna can be back together for the 60th anniversary. Donna’s last adventure with Ten featured her taking on the mantle of DoctorDonna when she gained the power of the Time Lords to defeat Davros. Knowing this would "burn up" Donna’s mind, the Doctor wiped her memory and hoped they’d never meet again. Donna then appeared in Tennant’s swansong, where she nearly remembered their adventures, but once again, had her mind wiped by a failsafe.
Fuelling the theories that Tennant’s return isn’t as the Doctor who regenerated into Matt Smith's Eleven, eagle-eyed fans noticed he’s done away with his usual trench coat and has a new suit. Even if it’s a simple wardrobe update, it doesn’t explain how the Doctor and Donna are running around like nothing ever happened. Russell T Davies has already described their reunion as "impossible", and if this isn’t the Donna we left in 2010’s The End of Time, it’s possible she’s an alternate version who didn’t become DoctorDonna.
A Doctor between two Roses
At the centre of it all appears to be Finney’s mysterious casting as Rose, whose character description doesn’t give anything away. While being referred to as New Rose raises some questions, it also leans into the idea of the multiverse. This isn’t the first time Doctor Who has dipped a toe in the multiverse, and nor is it the first time Donna and Rose (specifically, the version played by Billie Piper) have been part of it.
In season 2, the Doctor and Rose accidentally travelled to a parallel universe where the Cybermen rose again, and Rose was later trapped in that world after a clash with the Daleks. Rose was to return in season 4 when the walls between realities broke down, but at the close of the story, Tate's DoctorDonna explained how "dimensional retroclosure" sealed the walls between universes. This stopped multiversal travel and confined Piper’s Rose to an alternate universe with the Meta-Crisis Doctor.
It’s possible Finney’s Rose has found a way to traverse the multiverse like the OG famously did in Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon audio anthology on Big Finish. Piper has repeatedly said she’s open to reprising her role as Rose, but it remains to be seen if she'll actually make a comeback. For now, Finney’s casting neatly sets up the return of Piper’s Rose, or just as easily honours Tennant’s days without having the star who played arguably his most famous companion along for the ride.
Shaping the future with the past
When Whittaker's Thirteen escaped a possible-future version of a nuclear-ravaged Earth in Orphan 55, she told us. "The future is not fixed, it depends on billions of decisions and actions, and people stepping up." This was teased years earlier when the Doctor-lite Turn Left explained how drastically things can change with a simple decision. Ten’s iconic episode featured Donna being manipulated by a Time Beetle, and although 'Donna’s World' was erased from existence, it’s got us thinking about how many others there are.
Doctor Who has long established that N-Space is the Prime Universe in canon, but over the past 60 years, we’ve learned about a lot more. Across various media, the Doctor has visited an alternate Earth populated by the vampire-like Haemovores, the many alternate realities that have been conquered by Cybermen, and even one with Tardis Tails - an anthropomorphic cat version of the Doctor.
More recently, in 2021's six-part Flux, The Division revealed their secret base was in another universe, and attempted to relocate to that parallel reality before the Doctor foiled their plans.
2003’s Exile audio story even featured an alternate universe where the Doctor regenerated into a woman long before Thirteen. It was Ten who told us about billions of parallel universes stacked on top of each other, and also him that reiterated travel between them was nearly impossible since the Last Great Time War - emphasis on the "nearly" part of that one.
Altogether, the more you look, the more evidence there is that parallel worlds have always played a role in Doctor Who, even very recently. Who's to say this isn't finally building to something for the show's 60th anniversary?
The multiverse isn’t all it seems
Before we start cheering for a 60th anniversary multiverse, it's worth noting that there are rival theories for what's going on with Tennant and Tate's return. Some have claimed that Thirteen will revert back to Ten's face before passing the baton to Ncuti Gatwa’s Fourteen. Elsewhere, people have suggested that New Rose is Donna’s daughter and is named after Piper’s version because of some long-dormant memory in Donna’s subconscious.
Arguably, Finney being 18 means she’s too old for this theory to work. Even if Donna got pregnant as soon as she parted ways with the Doctor, her daughter would only be 12 (unless we're taking a leap into the future?). Besides all of this, a Multiverse Rose who looks completely different to the one we all know is an altogether more interesting prospect. Hey, it worked for all those Loki and Spider-Man variants in the MCU.
It wasn’t long ago that Hugh Grant was tipped to lead Doctor Who for a Marvel-style makeover, and it could still happen. Even if it seems obvious to just copy the MCU, returning showrunner Davies has spoken about his desire for Doctor Who to have a Disney Plus-esque channel of spin-offs. Multiple parallel Doctors are a possible way to pull this off, as well as tapping into the nostalgic potential of bringing back old Doctors and allowing breakout characters to have their own adventures without messing up the timelines too much.
Picture the scene where Finney gets her own live-action series that adapts The Dimension Cannon and follows New Rose searching for Doctors across the multiverse. It might seem unlikely that Davies would want things to get so meta, but what’s more ambitious for the future of Who than handling a multiverse of continuity and cameos?
If Doctor Who does go down this route, we’d bet a few more familiar faces will return, and if you want to see Baker, McCoy, Smith, and more for the 60th celebrations, the multiverse is a good place to start.
And while we’re at it, why not bring back Dame Joanna Lumley as the Doctor from the 1999 Comic Relief Special? When you enter the multiverse, absolutely anything is possible.
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