David Tennant as the 10th Doctor

Is David Tennant Returning to ‘Doctor Who’? Answered and Explained

David Tennant is returning to Doctor Who, but not in the way you might have thought. Tennant is a British actor well-known for portraying the 10th incarnation of The Doctor in Doctor Who. Since then, Tennant has made quite a name for himself as Crowley in Good Omens, as well as lead roles in Jessica Jones and Broadchurch. But it was his turn as The Doctor that launched him into the stratosphere. The Doctor is an alien called a Time Lord who can time travel in a ship called the TARDIS. He frequently picks up human companions to bring along on his journeys as he saves the world from various extraterrestrial threats. Tennant was the second actor to play The Doctor in the Doctor Who revival series that premiered in 2005.

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For many viewers, Tennant is one of the most memorable actors to portray The Doctor. His whimsical, eccentric, and heartfelt portrayal of The Doctor resonated well with fans. Additionally, he boasted a few fantastic companions including the brilliant Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and the hilarious Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), and of course his epic romance with Rose Tyler (Billy Piper). It has become common for actors in the modern age of Doctor Who to hold the role for 3 seasons before moving on. Tennant was the first to kick off this trend, starring in the show from seasons 2 – 4 before handing the sonic screwdriver to Matt Smith who became the next Doctor.

Happily, Tennant has always been open to returning to Doctor Who. He made this clear when he returned as a guest star in Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary special and portrayed the 10th Doctor alongside Smith’s 11th Doctor. It was also announced that he would appear in Doctor Who‘s 60th Anniversary Special, along with Tate, in November of 2023. As it turns out, however, he made his return a bit earlier than initially anticipated—and not as the 10th Doctor.

Is Tennant returning to Doctor Who?

The thing is, Tennant is returning to Doctor Who and it’s not just for a guest appearance. Doctor Who just aired their last special of 2022 on October 23rd. The special, titled “The Power of The Doctor,” marked Jodi Whittaker’s final appearance as the 13th Doctor before her regeneration. Her departure from Doctor Who has been known for some time, and Sex Education actor Ncuti Gatwa was chosen to be the next Doctor. As a result, when Whittaker’s regeneration began, viewers anticipated their first peek at Gatwa as The Doctor. Instead, they saw Tennant.

That’s right, the 14th Doctor is Tennant. This makes him the first actor to portray The Doctor twice. Given his onscreen confusion, it appears The Doctor wasn’t expecting to regenerate into a familiar face again either. Showrunner Russell T. Davies confirmed that Tennant is, indeed, the 14th Doctor in a statement issued by BBC:

If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way! The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!

Tennant’s return explained

Unfortunately, we won’t get any more answers about Tennant’s “new” 14th Doctor until November of 2023. Doctor Who is making us wait a full year before debuting the 60th Anniversary Special which will start where “Power of the Doctor” ended. What’s exciting, though, is that the special will be 3 episodes long this time. This suggests that Tennant will be the 14th Doctor for a short 3-episode adventure arc that will see him reunited with Noble. The special will likely end with him regenerating into Gatwa, and we can’t wait to see what the Doctor Who wizards have cooked up.

(featured image: BBC)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.