Doctor Who: David Tennant and Catherine Tate to Return

David Tennant next to Catherine Tate. Tennant is wearing a red coat and smiling at the camera, arms crossed. Catherine has her head tilted looking at the camera.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate return for the 60th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who confirms the BBC.

David Tennant and Catherine Tate will be returning to Doctor Who under showrunner Russell T. Davies for the show’s 60th Anniversary in 2023.

Tennant and Tate’s fourth series of Doctor Who in 2008 is the most successful that the show has had since its revival in 2005, with an average audience of more than eight million viewers per episode.

Tennant had starred in the lead role under Russell T. Davies’ writing from 2006 to 2010 when he was replaced with Matt Smith in a New Year’s Day special episode.

Similarly, Catherine Tate was last seen as the character Donna Noble in the same 2010 New Year’s Day episode.

Since, Tennant has stayed closely linked with the Doctor Who brand, having previously returned to the role in the 2013 episode The Day of the Doctor alongside Matt Smith to celebrate the show reaching its 50th anniversary.

This news of David Tennant and Catherine Tate’s return is a week after it was announced that Ncuti Gatwa would become the fourteenth Doctor regenerating into the role filling Jodie Whittaker‘s shoes.

The 13-episode run of series four that originally starred Tennant and Tate also enjoyed a high degree of critical acclaim and was nominated for best drama at that year’s BAFTA TV Awards.

The pair’s popularity may provide a rating boost for a show which has seen its audience fall in the last two years. This is set to coincide with the show taking back Russell T Davies and having the show partly produced by Bad Wolf Studios, moving away from being solely a BBC Studios production.

Announcements such as this are often made ahead of Doctor Who imminently filming in public places. Revealing information ahead of shooting is a strategy that the show has used before and is a way to mitigate internet sharing spoilers. This way, the show takes the onus of its announcements and can use them to generate hype and speculation.

For the 50th anniversary, the show was filmed in Trafalgar Square as well as the Tower of London, so this would mitigate spoilers or news leaking across the internet.

Though it is still unconfirmed, it is rumoured that additional actors to play the lead role Christopher Eccelston, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker are likely to return for the show’s anniversary episode.

Russell T. Davies spoke of the announcement, saying, “They’re back! And it looks impossible – first, we announce a new Doctor, and then an old Doctor, along with the wonderful Donna, what on earth is happening?

“Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. 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.”

Doctor Who will return later this year with Jodie Whittaker’s final episode as part of the BBC Centenary celebrations.

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By Conor Riley

Conor is the Founder and Editor for Cinamore, a publication focused on giving power back to journalists. As a portmanteau of the word 'Cinema' and the Italian word for love 'Amore', Cinamore aims to highlight the love that we all carry for the art of the moving image.


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