Will David Tennant return to Doctor Who?

The door has been left open for the actor's return to the franchise

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials,02-12-2023,Wild Blue Yonder,2,The Doctor (David Tennant),***EARLY RELEASE - EMBARGO LIFTED***,BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon
David Tennant returned in Doctor Who for the 60th anniversary specials, but the door has been left open for him to come back one day. (BBC)

Doctor Who fans were delighted when David Tennant made a triumphant return to the BBC series for its 60th anniversary, reprising his role as the 14th incarnation of The Doctor.

Viewers expected the final episode of the anniversary specials to end with Tennant regenerating into Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor, marking the actor passing the baton onto his successor, but something different happened — there was a bigeneration, which meant there were two Doctors at the same time.

Tennant's Doctor remained on Earth with Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and his family, whilst Gatwa stepped into his Tardis to begin his own adventures across time and space. But it begged the question: if Tennant's Time Lord is still around does that mean fans will see him again one day?

Matt Smith, John Hurt, and David Tennant in 2013's Day of the Doctor. (BBC)
David Tennant's first regeneration as the Tenth Doctor didn't stop him from returning for the 50th anniversary episode Day of the Doctor starring then current Doctor Matt Smith and John Hurt. (BBC)

With Tennant's Doctor still around there is every possibility of the actor reprising his role in future episodes, and his first regeneration as the Tenth Doctor didn't stop him from doing so before so why would it not be possible now? Narratively speaking, the door has been left open for Tennant to return because of the bigeneration twist.

Tennant himself has reflected on the possibility of coming back, again, in a conversation with SFX in which he said: "I think it would be disingenuous to imagine that I might never be asked again because history would indicate that it was always a possibility. So, I’m not going to say never because I don’t think anyone would believe me.

"That doesn’t mean I know that I ever will. But I suppose until I can’t run down a corridor it’s always a possibility. But I promise to have no plans."

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Specials,02-12-2023,Wild Blue Yonder,2,The Doctor (DAVID TENNANT), Donna Noble (CATHERINE TATE),BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon
David Tennant and Catherine Tate in the Doctor Who specials, showrunner Russell T Davies has said that Tennant's Doctor is 'parked' for now.

Davies has said that Tennant is "retired" as the Time Lord when asked about his return ahead of the release of Gatwa's first season as The Doctor.

In an interview with The Times, Davies joked that Tennant's iteration of The Doctor "died", before saying: "David is parked and retired and it's all Ncuti's show now. Genuinely. Not that David might be coming back — he's absolutely not coming back."

Following the release of The Giggle, Davies also spoke of the possibility in the companion show Doctor Who Unleashed in which he said that Tennant "is parked" for now.

Read more: Russell T Davies opens up about transgender representation in Doctor Who

"For once, we’ve got a happy Doctor who is no longer saving the universe, but is parked with Donna for a happy life, while the Doctor — which is always the next Doctor, and that’s always true of Doctor Who, the Doctor is the next Doctor — is out amongst the stars," he said.

At a press event promoting The Church on Ruby Road, the forthcoming Christmas special starring Gatwa and Millie Gibson, Davies reiterated that the show will be focusing on their story now, and so viewers shouldn't expect Tennant to return anytime soon.

When asked about the possibility of the actor coming back one day, Davies joked: "I'm sorry it's the age of Ncuti now, so it's David who?"

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2023,16-11-2023,Xmas preview,Xmas preview,Picture Shows: The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson),**STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 28TH NOVEMBER 2023**,BBC Studios 2023,Lara Cornell
At a press event for the Doctor Who Christmas special, Russell T Davies said: 'I'm sorry it's the age of Ncuti [Gatwa] now, so it's David who?' Adding there were 'no plans, genuinely, yet' for Tennant to return. (BBC)

The showrunner then added: "No plans, genuinely, yet because it's a busy TARDIS. These two are going to just sail across the universe and capture your hearts. So it's time to look at these two."

That being said, Davies also spoke in the Doctor Who podcast of how the bigeneration twist in The Giggle meant that every incarnation of the Time Lord returned in their own timeline: "I think all of the Doctors came back to life with their individual TARDISes, the gift of the Toymaker, and they're all out there travelling round in what I'm calling a Doctor verse.

"Sylvester McCoy woke up in a drawer, in a morgue, in San Francisco… and Jon Pertwee woke up on the floor of the laboratory."

Doctor Who series 14 returns on Saturday 11 May on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and Disney+.