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'David Tennant's return to Doctor Who cements his place as the best Doctor ever'

Sorry Tom Baker, but there's a new definitive Time Lord

Sorry Tom Baker, but David Tennant is Doctor Who's definitive Doctor now. (BBC)
Sorry Tom Baker, but David Tennant is Doctor Who's definitive Doctor now. (BBC)

Regenerations can be a stressful business for a Time Lord at the best of times. So David Tennant’s Doctor Who was no doubt grateful to have his old companion Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford) standing by with some comforting words on BBC One on Saturday night.

“You’re going to be someone else,” Mel told The Doctor in The Giggle, moments after he’d been blasted through both hearts by a space age laser thingy. “It doesn’t matter who, 'cos every one of you is fantastic.”

Well, that’s certainly an opinion Mel. However, at the risk of incurring the wrath of Whovians the universe over, I think it’s safe to say that some of the Doctors have been more fantastic than others.

I’ll even go further and put on record that the three 60th anniversary specials to which we have just been treated have confirmed David Tennant as the best of the lot. I’ll leave the experts to argue over whether Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee or Peter Capaldi takes second place. It doesn’t really matter. As the Doctor’s ancient nemesis the Toymaster (more of him later) pointed out on Saturday night, winning is what counts.

Catherine Tate, Neil Patrick Harris, and David Tennant shone in The Giggle, the final of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary specials. (BBC)
Catherine Tate, Neil Patrick Harris, and David Tennant shone in The Giggle, the final of Doctor Who's 60th anniversary specials. (BBC)

I have two reasons for putting Tennant at the top. One, of all the actors who have taken on the role he is clearly the strongest and most accomplished.

More importantly, as a casual observer with a professional interest I have always found Doctor Who to be way more fun when Tennant is around. This latest one hour adventure, The Giggle, was the most entertaining episode I’ve seen in years — and Tennant was clearly having the time of his life.

There was someone enjoying an even wilder ride than he was though: Hollywood star Neil Patrick Harris as the Toymaker. The last time I can remember an actor stealing the show so comprehensively was when Jon Simm was camping it up as the Master during Russell T Davies’s previous stint in charge.

The Toymaker even treated us to a musical number and — with all due respect to Simm’s Scissor Sisters efforts — it was way better than the Master’s. It helped that he was strutting his stuff and lip-syncing to the Spice Girls’s finest work, Spice Up Your Life.

He was also aided by some pretty impressive special effects, turning bullets into rose petals and UNIT soldiers into bouncing balls.

Speaking of special effects, the terrifyingly brilliant puppet baby offspring of John Logie Baird’s ventriloquist’s dummy Stooky Bill gave me some rather unwelcome Trainspotting flashbacks. No wonder they freaked out Donna Noble. Stooky Bill was pretty disturbing too, although that was mainly because he looked a bit too much like Jimmy Carr for my comfort.

If this is the sort of thing we can expect when the Disney money starts pouring into the production budget, there’s a good chance this show will still be on air when its 70th anniversary comes around. Tennant will probably pop back for those celebrations, but he’s unlikely to figure much before then.

Luckily, the early signs are that he is leaving the show in safe hands. The 15th Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, went toe to toe with Tennant and the fact that he was neither overawed nor outshone during their scenes bodes well for the future.

Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa will take the lead on Doctor Who from the 2023 Christmas special. (BBC)
Millie Gibson and Ncuti Gatwa will take the lead on Doctor Who from the 2023 Christmas special. (BBC)

Fifteen even found time to give his predecessor a lecture about self-care: “We’re Time Lords. We’re doing rehab out of order.” Such touchy-feeliness probably didn’t go down too well with critics who like to rage about Doctor Who going “woke”.

I found it quite sweet though. Likewise Fifteen bashing out a replica Tardis for Fourteen to potter around in during his retirement/convalescence.

While it was lovely for the Doctor to get an early Christmas present, I'm afraid the show’s fans will have to wait until the big day itself for their main gift.

That’s when Gatwa’s first solo episode drops — and if the trailer is anything to go by — it promises to be a cracker.

Doctor Who: The Giggle is streaming on BBC iPlayer in the UK, and on Disney+ globally.


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