It’s an amazing time to be a Doctor Who fan. It was recently announced that Ncuti Gatwa will be taking over the role of everyone’s favorite Time Lord following Jodie Whittaker’s final appearance as the Thirteenth Doctor later this year. Now, BBC has announced that both David Tennant, who played the beloved Tenth Doctor, and Catherine Tate, who played his companion Donna Noble, will be returning for the long-running sci-fi series' 60th-anniversary special, which airs in 2023.
Doctor Who has always had a knack for pulling off these kinds of big crossover specials. It did something similar with its 50th anniversary special, which featured both Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. But Russell T. Davies, who revived the legendary series in 2005 and is coming back as showrunner for its next season, warns that we might not see Tennant in the way we expect. Considering that this is a show with time travel, alternate dimensions, and other fantastical trappings, anything could happen.
“Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback,” Davies teased in a press release. “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.”
When we last saw Donna and The Doctor together, he had just wiped her memory to save her life after she absorbed a huge amount of Time Lord energy from the TARDIS, briefly becoming Doctor Donna until it began fracturing her human mind. Their parting was heartbreaking, so it will be interesting to see how the show works these characters back into the story without undermining what’s generally regarded as a high point in the series.
Davies is taking over Doctor Who again to introduce Gatwa, but he was also the showrunner back when Tennant and Tate were both series regulars, from 2005 to 2010 and 2006 and 2010, respectively.
Whittaker's final performance as the Thirteenth Doctor is due later this year in the regeneration special, which is when Gatwa will make his first appearance as the Fourteenth Doctor. Tennant and Tate are filming now for the 60th-anniversary special, which will air next year.