Ladies and gentlemen on New Year’s Day an era came to an end. No not the end of the first decade of the 21st century but the end of David Tennant’s reign on Doctor Who.
Yes, the era of the 10th Doctor came to an end as David Tennant handed over to Matt Smith. It wouldn’t be fair not to mark such an occasion and so ATV presents an Icons feature on the 10th Doctor. From The Christmas Invasion to The End Of Time, from Rose Tyler to Wilfred Mott we’ll be looking at the 10th Doctor’s era as we celebrate the Time Lord himself.
For some Doctor Who fans out there they’ll struggle to remember a time when David Tennant wasn’t the Doctor but for those of us with longer memories [and who have access to the various DVDs/VHS and UK Gold] we know that Tennant is just the latest in a long line of actors to portray the Doctor. Some of them such as Peter Cushing and Richard E Grant aren’t strictly considered canon while others like Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston hardly had time to settle into the role before their time came to an end. In fact, it was actor Christopher Eccleston that David Tennant replaced right at the very end of the first season of revived Doctor Who in 2005. The first series of Doctor Who in 2005 had been a huge success for the BBC even though its revival itself had been considered a risk by many but the combination of Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper and high action scripts made the series a success once more. Eccleston, however, wasn’t sticking around – contracted for just one season. Instead of taking Doctor Who into its first Christmas Special and second season would be David Tennant who had just made a name for himself as Casanova.
The short time of the 9th Doctor was brought to an end after encountering the surviving Daleks of the Time War who had hidden in the dark corners of the universe slowly rebuilding their vast armies hoping the wider Universe wouldn’t notice their presence. Rose Tyler [Billie Piper] the Doctor’s travelling companion looked into the heart of the Tardis and to save her the Doctor took the vortex energy from her prompting his regeneration. It was a slightly difficult regeneration for the Doctor and back on Earth in Rose’s home he struggled to stay awake. But when he finally recovered from the regeneration he took on the invading Sycorax before toppling Prime Minister Harriet Jones [Penelope Wilton] who had shot down the retreating Sycorax ship. However, while the Doctor showed little mercy towards Harriet Jones the 10th incarnation of the Doctor was more light-hearted than his predecessor and had a zest for life – literally bubbling away with energy. The universe excited him once more and he couldn’t wait to get back to exploring it with Rose; to encounter all the various things it could throw at him.
It was this excitement for exploration, for encountering new life forms and this show of energy that so defined the 10th Doctor during his lighter moments. Although he demonstrated on a number of occasions his darker or sorrow side the 10th Doctor often or not seemed to enjoy life and didn’t take things too seriously – something Queen Victoria [Pauline Collins] was angered and disgusted by. Sometimes the Doctor could become so caught up in the moment he would forget the effect it was having on those around him and how they might not be enjoying what was going on. In the case of Queen Victoria Rose and the Doctor while terrified that they were being stalked by an alien werewolf were none-the-less enjoying the adventure while Queen Victoria was shaken and horrified by the existence of dangers beyond the Empire. It was perhaps the Doctor’s attitude during this encounter with her that lead the Queen to consider him an enemy of the Empire and why he is named as such in the Torchwood charter. Even though he saved the day and Victoria his attitude and his enjoyment of the “dark” things made the Queen consider him to be dangerous indeed. The repercussions of the founding of Torchwood would be felt by the Doctor sometime later when the organisation captured him and were partly responsible for allowing the Cybermen and Daleks through to this reality.
When the Doctor is reunited with companion Sarah Jane Smith [Elisabeth Sladen] in School Reunion his joy at seeing her again after so many years is slightly tinged with sadness that people move on, people age and that he has to leave them behind. But he is clearly overjoyed by the fact that Sarah Jane is still investigating things, still following the Doctor’s lead and battling the evils that arrive on Earth. He is, however, reluctant to reveal his true identity to Sarah and it’s only when she spots the Tardis he is forced to reveal who he is. This reluctance may be due to the fact he would have to confront his past and his abandonment of Sarah to her fate all those years ago. He moved on and continued travelling with other companions and didn’t return to Sarah like he promised. The 10th Doctor is indeed confronted by Sarah off his abandonment of her and has to tell her just why he didn’t return. It isn’t just Sarah he is reunited with in the episode but also another former companion – K9. Also, Mickey Smith [Noel Clarke] who is Rose’s one/off boyfriend reappears in this episode when he calls them in to investigate the mysterious goings-on at the school. While the 9th Doctor wasn’t warm towards Mickey, sometimes even jealous and perhaps even contemptuous, the 10th Doctor is much warmer towards Mickey and they enjoy a more friendly based relationship.
At the end of School Reunion, the Doctor finally says a proper goodbye to Sarah Jane and leaves her a present – a brand new K-9. There is a sense of conclusion to their goodbye and the Doctor can move on without feeling guilty having finally given Sarah what she wanted – closure. Leaving companions behind is clearly difficult for the Doctor as he goes genuinely care about them and his shares so many experiences with him. Every time a companion leaves the 10th Doctor he is genuinely affected by it especially when Rose is trapped in the parallel universe and he has to wipe Donna’s mind.
In the two-part Cyberman story set in the parallel universe, the Doctor is once again witnessing the creation of his enemies [ala Genesis of the Daleks] but is powerless to stop the rise of the Cybermen in this universe. The Doctor has seen the rise of the Cybermen before and knows what the loss of humanity will do to the creatures but the rise of the Cybermen is too well advanced and the Doctor pretty much has to stand by and allow it to happen – concentrating his efforts on defeating the converted Cybermen rather than stopping the rise of the species altogether. Mickey decides to stay in the parallel universe to help continue the fight against the remaining Cybermen. Mickey’s decision to stay and fight is respected by the Doctor and is another sign of the warmer relationship the two enjoy as a result of the regeneration. Mickey and the Cybermen would, of course, return later in the series.
The season two finale introduces the Torchwood Institute and heralds the return of the Daleks, Cybermen and Mickey. The Doctor learns some of the consequences of his actions as Torchwood capture him and Yvonne Hartman [Tracey Ann Oberman] informs him he is named in the charter as an enemy of the ‘Empire’ and that’s due to Queen Victoria. Torchwood’s mandate of protecting the empire and acquiring alien technology to help their fight is a direct consequence of the Doctor’s encounter with Queen Victoria. It also results in Torchwood inadvertently allowing the Cybermen to cross from their universe where they are being defeated to “this one”. The path was made clear for them by a Void Ship which caused a rip in the fabric of the universe; a rip Torchwood made worse by trying to exploit it for power. With the rip getting bigger it allowed the Cybermen to cross over en mass. Inside the Void Ship are more Dalek survivors of the Time War – the Cult of Skaro – who took stolen Time Lord technology and fled space and time with it.
The continual survival of the Daleks angers the Doctor because of his own species, the Time Lords, are all dead and he is the sole survivor. On some level, he suffers from survivor guilt but also the knowledge that he is responsible for the destruction of his people and planet. It was the Doctor who ended the Time War by destroying all the Daleks and Time Lords – or so he thought. But the Daleks survived as they always do and he feels cheated that his sacrifice has been subverted by their survival. Cheated and anger, deep ridden anger, at their survival. It’s this anger that pushes him to constantly fight their plans and defeat them. In this episode, he manages to send the warring Daleks and Cybermen back through the rip – though the Cult of Skaro teleports away – this comes at a very high price. Rose and her mother Jackie [Camille Coduri] are trapped in the parallel universe with seemingly no way to return. The Doctor and Rose are separated from each other and both are devastated by this. It was no secret that Rose was in love with the Doctor and on some level, the Doctor was in love with her too – Rose had given the Doctor a reason to live again and enjoy life.
The Doctor didn’t have long to mourn the loss of Rose however because very quickly he was with bride Donna Noble [Catherine Tate], a Londoner who disappears from the Church on her wedding day and ends up in the Tardis. Donna clearly isn’t very happy at her apparent abduction and believes the Doctor is behind it. Soon she mellows to the Doctor however and is horrified to realise it’s her fiance Lucas [Don Gillet] who is responsible – has teamed up with the Empress of the Racnoss [Sarah Parish]. The Doctor defeats the Racnoss but reveals a slightly darker side to Donna as he drowns the giant spider and has to be stopped by Donna. The Doctor offers Donna the chance to travel with him but she turns him down perhaps unsettled by seeing the darker side of the Doctor. Instead, she tells the Doctor he needs to find someone to travel with to stop him from and to save him from himself.
Sometime later the Doctor meets trainee Doctor Martha Jones [Freema Agyeman] who helps him when the hospital they are in is transported to the Moon and invaded by the Judoon. The Doctor offers Martha the chance to travel with him too but initially just for one adventure and Martha accepts. However, his constant references to Rose who he is still grieving for upsets Martha as she feels she is constantly being compared to her. Also the fact that the Doctor doesn’t treat her as a proper companion till sometime in her adventures with him also annoys her. Eventually, the Martha is forced to confront the Doctor over this and he welcomes her onboard as a fully fledged companion. While Jackie Tyler wasn’t necessarily happy with Rose’s travels with the Doctor she did come to accept them over time and trust the Doctor but Martha’s mother Francine [Adjoa Andoh] wasn’t so accepting. Francine was being manipulated by outside forces into being suspicious of the Doctor so she would eventually betray him and Martha.
The impact that Martha’s travels with the Doctor would have on her family would be great. In 1914 the Doctor and Martha are forced to hide from the Family of Blood and the Doctor becomes “human” to avoid their detection. He becomes a teacher at a private school and Martha is his servant – she knows his true identity and the human Doctor is completely oblivious. There he falls in love with not with Martha but with the Matron [Jessica Hynes] which is heart-breaking for the companion. Martha hoped the human Doctor would fall in love with her – as she had fallen in love with him – but instead, he had fallen for another. To make matters worse the Family of Blood had tracked the travellers down as the Doctor was powerless to stop them because he didn’t remember anything about his other life. Martha is forced to get the Doctor to change back into the Time Lord he truly is but this means he’ll have to sacrifice the life he has built up on Earth and the relationship he has established with Matron. For the Doctor it’s a truly difficult decision he has to make whether to put his own happiness above the greater good and in the end, he reverts back to Time Lord and once again his darker side emerges. He is almost ruthless with the Family of Blood trapping the Young Daughter in mirrors forever and similar punishments for the others. The dark side that emerged when dealing with the Racnoss once again comes out and in many ways, this reflects the darker existence of the 7th Doctor [Sylvester McCoy] who manipulates events to defeat the Cybermen, Daleks and Fenric.
Shortly after this, the Doctor is reunited with another companion – Captain Jack Harkness [John Barrowman] who travelled with Rose and the 9th Doctor. Jack was exterminated by the Daleks but resurrected by Rose when she had the time vortex inside of her. Because he was resurrected by Rose he can no longer die and the Doctor isn’t keen to be reunited with him – Captain Jack is something that shouldn’t exist and the Doctor doesn’t want to face up to the responsibility he faces for Jack’s survival. Then comes the return of his old adversary and fellow Time Lord, The Master [Derek Jacobi] who fled the Time War and hid away as a human at the very end of the Universe. The Master’s return was prophesied by the Face of Boe who warned the Doctor he was “not alone”. A resurrected Master regenerated and stole the Doctor’s Tardis travelling to Earth and became Harold Saxon [John Simm].
Harold Saxon became Prime Minister of the UK thanks to the Doctor’s toppling of Harriet Jones and set a trap for the Doctor using Martha’s family. Then he unleashed the last descendants of humanity from the end of the universe upon the Earth – creating a paradox in the process – and made slaves of Martha’s family, Jack and aged the Doctor by hundreds of years. It was Martha’s task to defeat the Master by uniting the whole of humanity, its survivors that is, against him and the Doctor trusted her with the task. The Doctor had complete faith in Martha and she didn’t let him down and the Master was defeated. Despite all the Master had inflicted upon the Doctor, Martha and humanity the Doctor still felt a close bond with his fellow Time Lords as they were the sole survivors of their race and as the Master laid dying [shot by his wife Lucy] the Doctor pleaded with him to regenerate. The Master smiled in satisfaction knowing he had finally beaten the Doctor in something by refusing to regenerate and so the Doctor built a funeral pyre and burnt the body of the Master. But something of the Master survived and was picked up…
Following the harrowing events caused by the Master and realising the Doctor would never love her, indeed he was still grieving for Rose, Martha stayed behind on Earth to look after her family and continue her medical training – leaving the Doctor to travel alone. In the period between companions, he was reunited with his 5th incarnation for a few minutes in a rare instance when previous Doctors meet each other. After this brief encounter with his 5th self [Peter Davison], the Doctor encounters one of several ‘one-off’ companions he’ll be paired up with during Tennant’s tenure – Astrid [guest star Kylie Minogue]. Together they defeat a plot to crash a replica of the Titanic into Earth causing a nuclear holocaust but in-doing so Astrid sacrifices herself. Astrid is one of several people the Doctor encounters during his travels that end up sacrificing themselves to save the day; another was Jabe at The End of the World. Their sacrifice would weight heavy on the Doctor sometime later when Davros taunts him that he manipulates others into dying for him and turning themselves into weapons so he doesn’t have to bear arms.
Having regretted turning down the Doctor in The Runaway Bride Donna Noble sets about tracking him down and investigates ala Sarah, mysterious events in the hope of being reunited with him. Donna gets lucky when she and the Doctor both investigate Adipose Industries which claim to have found a pill that allows people to lose weight – of course, there’s an alien plot behind it and the Doctor and Donna a reunited and Donna certainly doesn’t turn down the Time Lord again. But Donna was a different sort of companion to Martha and Rose because she wasn’t afraid to challenge the Doctor and stood up for herself. Donna was fully prepared to go against the Doctor’s express wishes and warn the people of Pompeii of its impending doom and when the Volcano erupted she pleaded with him to save someone. The Doctor eventually relented and did indeed save a family because as Donna pointed out he is constantly interfering with time and saving people so he can’t moralise about leaving the people of Pompeii to their fate just because it’s a “fixed” point in time.
In Turn, Left an alternative reality is created where the Doctor and Donna never meet meaning the Doctor died defeating the Racnoss leaving the Earth undefended against all the threats he stopped since then. As society collapses around Donna due to the nuclear holocaust brought on by the crashed Titanic replica, the onslaught of the Sontarans and the Adipose a mysterious blonde appears to Donna and tells her things aren’t the way they are meant to be – Rose. With Rose’s guidance, Donna is able to go back in time and sacrifice herself, well that version of herself, to put things back on the right path. It’s the story where Donna really shines and comes into her own and in a way, Rose is the side-show and Donna is the main attraction.
In the Season Four finale, Rose and the Doctor are finally reunited as Davros and the Daleks return determined to end reality itself. The “children of time” unite to battle the Davros and Daleks with Harriet Jones sacrificing herself to make it so. Rose, Martha, Jack, Mickey, Sarah Jane and Jackie Tyler all come together to try and stop the Daleks plans and before the Doctor himself Davros taunts the Time Lord of how he turns ordinary people into weapons – his true nature is manipulation of others into fighting his battles. The Doctor painfully remembers all those who have fallen for him such as Harriet Jones, Astrid, Jabe, River Song and so many others. The revelation almost of how the Doctor is perceived by Davros deeply affects him because he feels guilty; guilty that he has made others his warriors but abhors violence himself. While Davros is defeated there is once again a price and Donna’s memory has to be wiped in order to save her. Once again the Doctor is parted from one of his companions and is left deeply upset by this.
The 10th Doctor’s relationship with his companions is different to those of his previous incarnations. The 1st Doctor [William Hartnell] was very much a grandfather figure to Susan, Vicki, Stephen and Dido while he may have treated Barbara and Ian with a bit more respect he still considered himself to above them. The Second Doctor [Patrick Troughton] was more a father figure to his companions; Ben, Polly, Victoria, Jamie and Zoe and the Fifth Doctor [Peter Davison] was a surrogate father to orphans Adric, Nyssa and Turlough [all of whom had lost their parents] and an authoritative figure, but not necessarily father figure, to Tegan and Peri both of whom were far from home and without immediate family close by. However, the 10th Doctor treats his companions as friends and equals and this includes the one-off companions such as Astrid, Lady Christina [Michelle Ryan], Adelaide [Lindsay Duncan] and Wilfred [Bernard Cribbins]. Together with his companions they share and enjoy their adventures together whereas the 1st Doctor perhaps thought of his travels as an education for those who travelled with him – even if to begin with he was reluctant to let anyone other than Susan travel with him.
Like the 7th Doctor this one had a darker edge towards him and when provoked was a dangerous person to be around as the Racnoss and Family of Blood discovered. There was also arrogance to the 10th Doctor who believed he was undefeatable and always right. This arrogance was picked up upon by Queen Victoria amongst others – Yvonne Hartman also commented on it. The Doctors self-confidence and arrogance could also be his downfall. He toppled Harriet Jones believing her unfit to rule but by doing so allowed an opening for Harold Saxon, aka The Master, to rise to power. The Doctor’s arrogance has consequences when it goes unchecked such as in The Waters of Mars where he decides to defy the rules of time and save Adelaide and the two other remaining Mars Base survivors. By doing so he alerts time and to Adelaide threatens the future of her family to such an extent she isn’t prepared to stand by and allow him to do so. Adelaide stands up to the Doctor and tells him what he has become is wrong before shooting herself. When the Ood appears before the Doctor to summon him instead of answering straight away the Doctor delays [having other adventures in the meantime] in a demonstration of his arrogance that he isn’t prepared to accept the end and die. He doesn’t want to die and appearing before the Ood will kick-start the chain of events that will result in his death – the Doctor knows this but his self-confidence and arrogance surrounding his 10th self-means he doesn’t rush to the Ood. In doing so he delays his abilities to prevent certain events and his delay allows other events to begin [such as the resurrection of the Master]. If the Doctor had gone straight to the Ood this perhaps might have been preventable.
The final story, The End of Time, is about the Doctor accepting the inevitable fate that awaits him and when it does come, although he doesn’t want it, he faces it and embraces it. There’s a bit of anger, to begin with having believed he has escaped his fate only to find that it still awaits him but eventually the Doctor sacrifices himself to save Wilfred knowing it was always going to be this way and there’s no point fighting it. Before he regenerates the Doctor visits several key people to his 10th incarnation; Martha and Mickey, Donna and Wilfred and Sylvia, Captain Jack, the grand-daughter of the woman he fell in love within 1914 and then finally Rose Tyler in 2005 – just before she met the 9th Doctor and was whisked away by him. Having said his goodbyes to his friends the Doctor finally allows himself to regenerate.
The 10th Doctor will be defined by his energy, his wit, his joy for living and his willingness to share his travels with others but there was a darker side to the 10th incarnation that also became apparent on occasion and perhaps reminded us that the Doctor was just like all the other Time Lords – capable of such good but easily capable of turning to the dark side.