Doctor Who fans were surprised by a familiar face when Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Time Lord regenerated into David Tennant in the dramatic conclusion to the BBC’s centennial special.
It was previously announced that Scottish actor Tennant, who first joined the Tardis in 2005 to play the 10th Doctor, would be returning to the sci-fi series for the show’s 60th anniversary celebrations, but he wasn’t. revealed in what capacity.
Following Sunday’s 90-minute special, the BBC confirmed that Tennant will become the 14th incarnation with Catherine Tate reprising the role of her former partner Donna Noble for three special episodes set to air in November 2023.
Ncuti Gatwa will then take control of the Tardis as the 15th Doctor, with his first episode airing during the holiday period in 2023.
Speaking of the future, showrunner Russell T Davies said, “If you thought David Tennant’s appearance was a shock, we have many more surprises on the way.
“The path to Ncuti’s 15th Doctor is full of mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun.
“And how does it relate to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We give you a year to speculate, and then all hell breaks loose. “
Whittaker’s latest adventure as the Doctor was fraught with drama as it saw her fight for her life against some of her deadliest enemies: the Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen.
The episode, titled The Power Of The Doctor, also saw the surprise return of actors who played the Time Lords of the ages including Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy.
It opened with the Doctor launched directly into action alongside fellow Yasmin Khan, played by Mandip Gill, and John Bishop’s Dan Lewis, after being called in to help a spaceship that had been attacked by Cybermen.
As it faces this threat from outer galaxies, others occur over different time periods: one in Siberia in 1916 and another in modern-day London.
In an art gallery located in the British capital, two of the Doctor’s companions from previous eras have reunited – with Janet Fielding reprising the role of Tegan Jovanka, companion of the fourth and fifth Doctors, and Sophie Aldred returning as Ace, companion of the seventh Doctor.
They came together to explore why a dozen seismologists went missing and how 15 of the world’s most precious paintings, including the Mona Lisa and The Scream, were defaced.
As the Doctor comes to investigate, the answers become clearer when they realize that the Master, played by Sacha Dhawan, was behind the disappearances to orchestrate a plan to kill the Time Lord.
As he launches his master plan, which joins forces with the Cybermen and the Daleks, the Doctor is overwhelmed and forced to regenerate in The Master.
The Doctor’s companions are left to defend in her place with a group of them including Yasmin, Dan, Ace, Tegan and Graham O’Brien played by Bradley Walsh, creating a plan to save her from the Master’s clutches.
When that happens, the Doctor appears to land in a limbo world where he confronts the Doctor’s previous incarnations offering his advice.
Among them were Baker, Davison, McGann and actor David Bradley to play the late William Hartnell, with McCoy later appearing to assist Ace.
Their advice helps the Doctor start an AI hologram showing of herself in the Tardis to help guide her companions.
Eventually they manage to reverse the forced regeneration, so Whittaker is put back into her body but ends up in a final battle against the Master that leaves her injured and destined for true regeneration.
Whittaker and Gill take a final journey into space as their characters sit on the Tardis and gaze at the land below.
As they say their last words, Whittaker says, “A wise person once told me that goodbyes only hurt because what happened before was so special,” adding “I loved being with you Yas and I love being myself. “.
Once she is alone, Whittaker’s doctor takes one last look at a sunrise before regenerating into Tennant who immediately seems perplexed as to why he’s returned to the Time Lord’s body.
After the episode, a teaser trailer for the 60th anniversary special episodes aired that showed Tennant and Tate facing off against a deadly enemy played by Neil Patrick Harris and a brief look at Gatwa’s 15th Doctor.
Whittaker, 40, became the first woman to play the Doctor when she took on the role of Peter Capaldi in 2017.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall will also leave the program, to be replaced by Davies, who was behind the revival of the show in 2005.