David Tennant's Doctor Who Casting Raises Big Question About Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor

Doctor Who is keeping fans on their toes lately, as the franchise revealed a lot of amazing things about its future. Ncuti Gatwa is playing a new Doctor, Catherine Tate and David Tennant are back in the franchise, and Rose Tyler is coming back in a different way. It’s all so exciting and overwhelming that one might just assume that Tennant's Doctor is returning in the same way as previous team-ups between Doctors happened. With that said, there’s some evidence to think otherwise, and now I have a big question about Ncuti Gatwa’s newcomer and if he’s truly the Fourteenth Doctor. 

To be specific, I do believe that Ncuti Gatwa will be an upcoming Doctor with standalone episodes in Doctor Who. However, rumors ahead of his announcement stated that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor might regenerate back into David Tennant’s Doctor. It all sounded quite ridiculous a few weeks ago, but now that Tennant is coming back, there are some interesting other details to consider. 

It’s worth noting, for example, that nothing in the official announcement about Ncuti Gatwa’s casting explicitly referred to him as the Fourteenth Doctor. That might not seem weird at first, but if we go back to an article the website posted on the same day as Jodie Whittaker’s casting, the article referred to her as the Thirteenth Doctor. Ultimately this might not mean anything, but when paired with previous rumors that Whittaker would transform into Tennant’s Doctor, it’s certainly intriguing. Hell, even David Tennant acknowledged that the idea was intriguing, even if it sounded straight-up nonsensical just weeks before. 

In the hypothetical that the Thirteenth Doctor transforms into David Tennant's Doctor, that creates some wild potential scenarios. As an example, Ncuti Gatwa might not technically be the Fourteenth Doctor, though it’s also possible Tennant’s second incarnation gets a new name similar to John Hurt’s “War Doctor.” 

In terms of story, David Tennant’s Doctor's unprecedented reemergence following Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration (if it's not in the usual way of a past version of his character turning up) would be really interesting in terms of how he reconnects with Donna Noble. The two parted ways out of necessity as The Doctor had to purge his former companion's mind when some Time Lord DNA in her body threatened her life. 

The Doctor had to erase Donna’s memories of their adventures and her memory of him out of fear that the Time Lord DNA would reactivate and kill her. In the hypothetical scenario that Tennant returns as a new regeneration, we may learn that he found a way to heal her mind. 

Another thing to consider is that if David Tennant is the next regeneration in the Doctor Who cycle, we presumably won't be able to see Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor in action until Tennant regenerates. Additionally, this would prevent a Tennant and Gatwa team-up, which would also be a slight bummer. After all, we have plenty of standalone Tennant adventures available to binge with an HBO Max subscription and not nearly as many Doctor team-ups! We’ll have to see how things play out in the end and if the rumors about Tennant replacing Whittaker are just that and not reality. 

Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary is set to happen sometime in 2023 on BBC America. I’m sure more details about the anniversary will come before then, and there are plenty of TV options on our 2022 TV premiere schedule to fill the hours until then.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.