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How has Doctor Who sprouted a new Rose?

Yasmin Finney’s new character shares a name with Billie Piper’s classic companion – but are they actually connected?

Yasmin Finney and Billie Piper
Getty Images/BBC
Published: Tuesday, 17th May 2022 at 4:13 pm
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In just the latest surprise casting for Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who takeover, Heartstopper star Yasmin Finney has joined the cast alongside returning stars David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

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In and of itself, it’s a great bit of news – she’s been a hit in the Netflix series, and fans are excited to see her new role – but it’s the name of her new Who character that really has fans’ tongues wagging. How can there be another Rose?

To quote Davies himself on Instagram: “Rose! Another Rose? But how? Who? Why? Where? What, what, what?!”

To many fans, a character called Rose in Doctor Who means only one thing – Billie Piper’s fan-favourite companion Rose Tyler, who starred in the show for two seasons from 2005-2006 (followed by a few guest appearances) and is credited with some of the revived show’s success alongside co-stars Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant.

With Tennant now returning, fans might have expected Rose to return – but not this Rose. So what gives? Why has she been given this name? What does it all mean?

Well, fans already have a few theories. A few people have already floated the idea that Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary (which Tennant, Catherine Tate and Finney have been confirmed to be shooting for) will involve parallel worlds in some way, tipping the Whoniverse into its own Multiverse of Madness.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate
David Tennant and Catherine Tate Alistair Heap/BBC STUDIOS

Leaked photos of David Tennant on set show him in a subtly different version of his classic Doctor Who costume (with a blue coat, for one change), and some have theorised that we could be seeing a parallel universe story where the Doctor is a little different, Donna never had her memories wiped (which is why she’s still adventuring in the TARDIS) and Rose is played by a completely different actor.

It's possible right? But confusing, and a bit muddled. And a bit of a cop-out. Which is why we think something else entirely is happening.

What if Finney’s character is just a person called Rose? People are, you know. The significance of the character’s name could just be the effect it has on the Doctor, who might find himself drawn to help somebody who has this faint connection to the woman he once loved.

And perhaps the real reason the name’s in here is for us – and for the man writing the story. Davies started his Doctor Who journey with an episode and a character called Rose, and as he returns to Doctor Who the circularity of that return might appeal to him. It’s where he started, and where he’ll start again – but where Piper’s Rose represented something about the society of 2005, Finney’s version can reinvent that idea for 2023. Davies has often said that if he was relaunching Doctor Who today, he’d do things a bit differently. Fans are already seeing that he’s a man of his word.

This new version of Rose isn’t necessarily a multiversal revamp or reincarnation. She’s not necessarily Donna’s surprise daughter (though that would be cool, right?) or a herald for Billie Piper’s own comeback (though again, let’s not rule that one out).

For the last 17 years, that name has been a crucial motif in Doctor Who. And as Davies looks back for the 60th anniversary of the show, it might have just felt right to have a new Rose blooming for a new generation.

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Sci-Fi coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.

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