David Tennant’s Doctor Who Return ‘Is Unlike Any Episode Ever’, He Says: ‘The Specials Are Russell Off The Leash’ – Exclusive Image

Doctor Who

by Sophie Butcher |
Updated on

Interviews with actors for this story were conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Fire up the TARDIS – it’s almost time to return to a world of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey adventures, as the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials draw closer. Everyone’s favourite Gallifreyan will be bounding back onto our screens in November – and with previous showrunner Russell T. Davies back, plus previous stars David Tennant, Catherine Tate, and a brand new streaming home in the form of Disney+, the three upcoming special episodes promise an exciting mix of old and new Who.

“It’s like the band getting back together for one last hurrah,” star David Tennant tells Empire exclusively, for our brand new Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom issue. Audiences will remember that Tennant’s Doctor and Tate’s Donna parted ways after he was forced to wipe her memories of him, in order to save her life. These new specials find Donna having a kind of sense memory of her time with the Doctor, talking to her mum about feeling like “something’s missing”. She and daughter Rose (Heartstopper’s Yasmin Finney) are soon pulled into a new escapade with the Doctor, instigated by the presence of a fluffy little alien known as ‘The Meep’ (voiced by Miriam Margolyes) in their shed. Davies took inspiration for the storyline from The Star Beast, a Doctor Who comic strip from 1980. “I needed to bring Donna back into the story,” Davies explains to Empire. “Which meant setting it in London, which meant something alien landing on top of London, and I automatically thought of Star Beast as the best way to tell that story.”

And what a story it promises to be. The set-up for these episodes was shocking enough – in the season finale last year, Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor regenerated into David Tennant, rather than the expected new Doctor, Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa. But just because Tennant’s face is familiar, doesn’t mean that this is the same Doctor that he played before. “That was the first exciting piece of mischief that Russell created,” says Tennant. “That I was going to be Doctor No. 14 rather than Doctor No. 10 again. You’ll just have to wait and see why the 14th Doctor is so much like the 10th.” And it sounds like that sense of mischief – and experimentation – is threaded through the entire series of anniversary specials. “I was surprised,” admits Tennant, “when I saw what that first script was based on, then I read the second script, which is unlike any Doctor Who episode ever. These new specials are Russell off the leash.” Consider us very, very excited.

Empire's Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Covers

Read Empire’s full Doctor Who story – speaking exclusively to David Tennant and Russell T. Davies – in the new Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom issue, on sale Thursday 26 October. Pre-order a copy online here, or become an Empire member to access the digital edition on launch day. The Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials will air on the BBC in November.

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