David Tennant reveals that Russell T. Davies’ original plan for the Doctor Who specials was far different from what they were developed into. The Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials see the return of Tennant and Catherine Tate, with Tennant playing the Fourteenth Doctor reincarnation and Tate reprising her role as Donna Noble. The third and final Doctor Who anniversary special, titled “The Giggle,” will be released on December 9.
Speaking with Radio Times, Tennant explains Davies’ original plan for the Doctor Who specials. According to the actor, Davies planned for the episodes to be “an unseen adventure from years before.” This story would have been set around the time of Doctor Who season 4, when Tennant was playing the Tenth Doctor. Check out the full quote from Tennant below:
It would have been an unseen adventure from years before. Russell immediately had an idea for a story, which I’m not going to mention because I don’t think it’s yet seen the light of day.
It certainly wouldn’t have been part of an ongoing story. But I hope one day he does use it, because it sounded great.
Why Setting The Specials In the Later Timeline Was A Better Decision
Setting the Doctor Who anniversary specials in the season 4 era would have completely changed the plot of the episodes. Instead of acknowledging how the characters have aged over time – including Donna, who becomes a mother in the elapsed time – the specials would have instead aged down Donna and the Tenth Doctor as if no time had passed. This choice would have played into the nostalgia that some are seeking in the new Doctor Who era, but would not have supported the ongoing continuity of the series.
Instead, what Davies arrived at is a plot that actively engages new Doctor Who lore, including characters like Beep the Meep, and that will help ease the transition to the Fifteenth Doctor. Bringing back a Time Lord actor to play two non-consecutive Doctors is a series first for Doctor Who, and one that undoubtedly came about due to the need to return the show to its roots. Hopefully, this choice will succeed through a smooth transition between Tennant and Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor as the show proceeds to Doctor Who season 14.
The chosen timeline for the Doctor Who 60th-anniversary specials also creates the potential for follow-ups regarding the introduced storyline. Tennant may be officially wrapping up his tenure on the show after the specials, but that doesn’t mean that characters such as Rose Noble or even villains like the Toymaker could not come back for follow-up episodes. By setting the specials after the events of Doctor Who season 13 rather than several Time Lord regenerations prior, Davies has expanded the show’s universe rather than rehashed it.