Doctor Who

David Tennant’s brutal reason for quitting BBC’s Doctor Who after saying role would kill him

It's hard to think of Doctor Who without thinking of the fan favourite actor David Tennant - his departure from the role ultimately stemmed from one big decision

It’s difficult to think of the popular series Doctor Who without thinking of fan favourite actor David Tennant.

The Scottish actor quickly took the nation by storm for his incredible portrayal of the Tenth Doctor between 2005-2010. His five-year stint saw David, 52, put on an award-winning display in the incredibly popular British science-fiction television series. David’s initial departure left fans heavily grieving as the actor stepped down from his role after an incredible journey that left him “honoured” for the “life changing” opportunity.

To many fans delight, the Doctor is set to make an unexpected comeback to the BBC show for its 60th anniversary. It comes after David announced his departure back in 2008. He was coming off the most recent series of Doctor Who following his highly acclaimed run. The actor accepted his incredible win for Best Drama Performance at the British National Television Awards in a bombshell video.

,The Doctor (David Tennan

David Tennant played the Doctor for five years 


BBC Studios/Bad Wolf)

The Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate),

The actor is reprising his role alongside Catherine Tate as Donna 


Zoe McConnell/Bad Wolf/BBC Studios)

David revealed that the final collection of Doctor Who episodes to come in 2009 would be his last leg as the character. His announcement hit like a ton of bricks for sci-fi fans and was incredibly surprising, given his magnificent run as arguably the show’s best Doctor to date.

Despite the shocking announcement, his departure was far from malice as he later admitted that he simply didn’t “want to outstay [his] welcome”. Ultimately, he was worried that it was too tempting to forever portray the addicting character. At the time, the Harry Potter star told the BBC : “I’ve had the most brilliant, bewildering and life changing time working on Doctor Who.

“I have loved every day of it. It would be very easy to cling on to the TARDIS console forever and I fear that if I don’t take a deep breath and make the decision to move on now, then I simply never will. You would be prising the TARDIS key out of my cold dead hand. This show has been so special to me, I don’t want to outstay my welcome.”

While David alerted fans of his departure a year ahead, he wanted to share his gratitude for “when the time finally comes”. He added: “I feel very privileged to have been part of this incredible phenomenon, and whilst I’m looking forward to new challenges I know I’ll always be very proud to be the Tenth Doctor.”

Despite fans thinking we’d never see David as the Doctor again, he agreed to reprise his role in the popular sci-fi series for a special 60th anniversary episode alongside co-star Catherine Tate. After originally parting ways in 2008, when the Doctor had to wipe Donna Noble’s memory in order to save her life, the new storyline is kept top secret by the BBC.

According to the storyline he left her family with a warning: if ever Donna remembers, she will die – with the duo coming face to face again, one huge plotline awaits. Showrunner Russell T Davies said: “They’re back! And it looks impossible – first, we announce a new Doctor, and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on earth is happening? Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback.

The Doctor (David Tennant)

David felt he needed to leave the show 


BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney)

“The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.” Speaking at a screening of the first of the three specials, which airs on November 25, Russell said it was Catherine who’d told him she’d like to bring Donna out of retirement, after taking part in a ‘tweetalong’ event during the pandemic.

“Catherine said, ‘Oh, I’ve always loved Donna Noble and wouldn’t it be marvellous to make some more?’ And I went, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, yeah,’ like that. And then she asked David. She said, ‘Would you make some more?” And he said he would, in a heartbeat. So then she told me that and I genuinely felt honour-bound to go to theBBCand say, ‘Look, these two stars have just said they would love to come back.’ I knew it was the 60th anniversary coming up. Simple as that.

‘So I just sent off that email about Christmas Eve or something – best Christmas present you ever had!” He said that former drama boss Piers Wenger had sent back a measured response. “All I got was a reply saying, ‘Thank you. We’ll think about it.’

The writer and TV executive said the reason why Tennant, the 10th Doctor, has returned as the 14th Doctor will be revealed in the last of the three specials to mark the 60th anniversary. “The mystery of his face does continue over the next two specials. It’s not a huge plot, but it has a nice payoff, actually. So keep tuning in.”

The Doctor Who series has seen a flurry of Doctors throughout its years, including the likes of Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. It was revealed that Netflix ‘s Sex Education actor Ncuti Gatwa would be the next famous face to step into the Doctor’s shoes. The Rwanda-born actor takes over from Jodie Whittaker and said: “It feels really amazing. It’s a true honour. This role is an institution and it’s so iconic.”

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