In a celebration of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary, the British sci-fi series is bringing back two of its most popular leads to headline three unique specials.
With the show's latest episode, "Power of the Doctor," 13th Doctor actress Jodie Whittaker shockingly regenerated into David Tennant's all-new 14th Doctor, marking his return to the series after previously playing the popular 10th Doctor.
David Tennant's 14th Doctor is the Same (But Not Quite)
In the December 2023 issue of Total Film magazine, Doctor Who's returning showrunner Russell T. Davies confirmed what fans all suspected about David Tennant's 14th Doctor, being his similarity to his previous 10th Doctor.
Davies revealed "whether you call him the 10th or 14th," Tennant's Doctor still "mines for jokes," indicating this to be very much the same character:
"There’s a joy about that Doctor, whether you call him the 10th or 14th. No one can hit a punchline like that, no one can find a punchline like that. He mines for jokes, even when it’s a serious scene."
He added how his "favorite actors" are those who "dig and dig to see the humor," even in the midst of a darker moment:
"My favorite actors are the ones -like Catherine -who will dig and dig to see the humor. It’s a human instinct to find comedy in darker moments, to bring a shaft of light into a scene. And they both do that brilliantly."
Fans already got a taste of this familiar 14th Doctor in "Destination Skaro," a five-minute short created for Children in Need 2023 that saw Tennant just an hour after his regeneration arriving at a pivotal moment in the creation of the Daleks.
Tennant displayed a regeneration of the Time Lord almost identical to the 10th Doctor as he met comedian Mawaan Rizwan's Mr. Castavillian and even proved to be the influence for the Daleks' iconic plunger arm.
That being said, Davies did reveal one major change to the 14th Doctor in an interview with Digital Spy, confirming Tennant's latest regeneration is "slightly more human" than he was before.
The showrunner added how, despite 14 years having passed since he last wrote for the show, he "didn't even go and watch an old episode" to get back into the swing of writing for Donna Noble and Tennant's Doctor:
"I didn't even go and watch an old episode on iPlayer because they never quite go really... those big characters don't go from your head. They keep on ticking away."
Everything You Need to Know About the 14th Doctor
Technically speaking, David Tennant is not coming back as the 10th Doctor, as he has still gone through several regenerations and hundreds of years of experiences before simply cycling back to the exact same face.
While Tennant will not be the 10th Doctor in the 60th-anniversary specials, his personality, mannerisms, and catchphrases will still be very familiar to fans of the actor's last era of leading Doctor Who. After all, even the costume he will wear, while fresh, has clear influences from his iconic early 2000s design.
Since Russell T. Davies is only just taking back control of Doctor Who in an effort towards a fresh start with the show, there probably won't be an awful lot of connections to the events since Tennant last regenerated.
But from saving Gallifrey to visiting his own grave, the experiences and life the Doctor has lived since the Scottish actor was last at the helm of the series should still influence his character, perhaps leading to his "more human" nature.
Regardless, Tennant's face coming back is expected to be a major plot point in the upcoming specials, with some form of chaos and interference in the regeneration likely to have caused the fan-pleasing event.
David Tennant will return to Doctor Who in "The Star Beast" on Saturday, November 25, airing on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK and on Disney+ internationally.