We now know how David Tennant’s ‘Doctor Who’ return came about

David Tennant as the Fourteenth Doctor in 'Doctor Who'
Photo via BBC Studios

While his return for next year’s 60th anniversary had long been announced, the reveal that David Tennant was our new Doctor (er, again), still came as a huge shock to viewers at the end of Jodie Whittaker’s recent Doctor Who finale. Yes, officially called the Fourteenth Doctor now, Tennant is once again back in the TARDIS to steer the show through the milestone year that is 2023, before he hands over the sonic screwdriver once more to Ncuti Gatwa.

But how did Tennant happen to reprise his most famous role in the first place? Did he have to be strong-armed into it by a desperate BBC? Actually, it turns out the exact opposite is true. Showrunner Russell T. Davies, who previously cast the Scottish star during his original tenure in 2005, revealed to Doctor Who Magazine that the seed of this exciting new development in the Whoniverse came out of two things that have rarely brought us good news before: the pandemic and Twitter.

Back in December 2020, as per the trend for Tweetalongs—in which celebs and fans would live-watch a movie or TV show together—Davies, Tennant, and Catherine Tate joined in with a seasonal rewatch of 2006 Christmas special “The Runaway Bride.” The trio enjoyed this walk down memory lane so much that it started them wishing they could work together again. As Davies recalled:

“[A]fterwards – I just looked at my phone, it was 20.01 on 18 December 2020 – Catherine texted me to say how much she’d enjoyed it. I texted back: ‘God, let’s get David to do some more Doctor and Donna, I loved it so much!’… I don’t think I really meant it, though. Honestly: no secret plan at work. But then Catherine replied, ‘Let’s do it! The Doctor and Donna – The Lost Adventures.'”

Once Tate revealed that Tennant was just as enthused by the notion as them, Davies decided it was time to make this official and reached out to the BBC that all the trio were up for giving it another go. The rest is future Doctor Who history:

“So I double-checked with David, he said yes, and then… Well, I simply had to be professional. As a former producer of Doctor Who, I had a job to do; if David and Catherine had expressed a wish to return, it was literally my job to let the BBC know. It wasn’t my choice any more. It was duty.”

Davies has yet to explain exactly how this led to him taking over as EP once again, as this will be unveiled in the magazine’s next issue. This bright new, Disney-powered era of Doctor Who is set to kick off in November 2023.