50th Anniversary Retrospective: The 10th Doctor

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John Hussey continues his monthly retrospective, this time looking at the 10th Doctor, David Tennant.


The Origins of The Tenth Doctor

After but just one full series as the Doctor Christopher Eccleston decided to leave the role and pass on the legacy to the next candidate. After successfully helping Russell T Davies bring back the series, Eccleston thought it was time to leave (something that had been said the actor wanted to do from the very start – film one series to help the show get going again before bowing out in the series finale). Other reasons, which Eccleston stated in later years, mentioned behind the scenes politics and bullying by senior members of production, and that he didn’t enjoy the environment he was placed within. Whatever the reason for his decision to leave, he still did a fantastic job at resurrecting the legendary Time Lord back onto our screens.

The next in line for the role of the Time Lord was none other than David Tennant. He was secured the part for the Doctor by his great performance in Casanova which was written by Doctor Who show-runner Russell T Davies. Seeing his brilliant acting skills within his previous work, Russell decided to cast him as Eccleston’s replacement. It’s fair to say that Tennant embraced the role with open arms and finally achieved his dream job of becoming his childhood hero. As a life-long fan of the show, Tennant relished every moment of his time on the show and opened up a new era of Doctor Who and made way for the many successful years to come from the revived series.

Era and Stories

series2The Tenth Doctor era continued the ideas developed within the Ninth Doctor era and took it into a new further direction for the Tenth Doctor’s personality. Firstly the idea of the Doctor spending time with companion’s families was objected by the Ninth Doctor’s persona but because of the Tenth Doctor’s more cheerful and playful behaviour it became more natural for him to spend time on Earth. This also followed the traits of the Third Doctor era, and for a time the Tenth Doctor had a new Earth-bound family through Rose Tyler’s family. The idea of companions having family relationships continued throughout the Tenth Doctor era through Martha Jones and Donna Noble, adding a new layer to the show which developed many guilt trips for the Doctor to face. The family storylines all added up to create doubts about the Tenth Doctor and ultimately caused his actions to have larger affects when the companion’s families were placed in mortal danger or were affected emotionally.

The Earthbound nature of the Ninth Doctor’s era faded away and the Doctor travels became further afield once again, landing on alien planets and even delving into parallel worlds – something that hadn’t been touched upon since the Third Doctor’s adventure ‘Inferno’.

  • New Earth – ‘New Earth’ and ‘Gridlock’
  • Parallel Earth – ‘Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel’ and ‘Doomsday’
  • Krop Tor – ‘The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit’
  • Malcassairo – ‘Utopia’
  • Ood Sphere – ‘Planet of the Ood’
  • Messaline – ‘The Doctor’s Daughter’
  • The Library – ‘Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead’
  • San Helios – ‘Planet of the Dead’
  • Mars – ‘The Waters of Mars’

The Tenth Doctor’s era continued the trait of the Doctor meeting famous people from the past which started in the Ninth Doctor era when he met Charles Dickens in ‘The Unquiet Dead’.

  • Queen Victoria – ‘Tooth and Claw’
  • William Shakespeare – ‘The Shakespeare Code’
  • Agatha Christie – ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’

The stories became more adventurous with the active nature of the Tenth Doctor and his fun personality. At the same time the stories became darker in the sense of moral judgement over the actions of the Tenth Doctor – both within the present and the past. The storyline of the Time War still continued to haunt the Tenth Doctor in many ways, especially with the continual reappearances of the Daleks, who kept coming back from the dead to wreak havoc while the Doctor was left with nothing but loss and pain. Emotional sides were added to the Tenth Doctor and for the first time he began judging himself. The Tenth Doctor certainly developed many emotional traits and in many ways became the loneliest Doctor because of the burdens he held on his shoulders and the way he saw himself and the affects he had on the universe. The Tenth Doctor suffered many losses during his era and each loss gradually caused more pain for his incarnation which ultimately changed his character. The Tenth Doctor’s era certainly did a lot of exploring the humanity within the Doctor’s soul and this experimental design developed by continuing show-runner Russell T Davies went on to create some nasty and heartbreaking scenarios for the Time Lord to face.

The Last Great Time War continued to haunt the Tenth Doctor further with the return of his nemesis the Master who returned in ‘Utopia’ after escaping the battle through means of hiding. His return pushed the boundaries of the Tenth Doctor’s loneliness and upon the renegade Time Lord’s apparent death, the Doctor was left heartbroken after re-establishing the title of the last Time Lord. The Master would later return in ‘The End of Time’ and go on to create further chaos and emotional baggage for the Tenth Doctor when it was revealed the Time Lords engineered the drumbeat within the Master’s mind in order to escape the Time Lock – adding to the reasons why the Doctor destroyed his race at the end of the Time War. This long running story-arc was there for the Tenth Doctor to finally face some of his past demons and finally commence the final stages of his redemption, something that had begun after the Ninth Doctor regenerated into the Tenth Doctor.

watersofmars8The idea of fixed points in time were used again in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ when the Tenth Doctor was faced with causing the terrible events of Pompeii’s destruction at the hands of Mount Vesuvius. The Tenth Doctor was forced to confront another fixed moment in ‘The Waters of Mars’, this time wishing to change history by attempting to save Adelaide Brooke from her death after becoming frustrated with time taking everything away from him.

The story-arc idea brought about in the Ninth Doctor era continued throughout the Tenth Doctor era with each series having tiny seeds sown into the fabric of the episodes and would slowly unveil a nasty little secret for the Doctor to face within the final two-parter. Series 2 was all about the introduction of the Torchwood Institute, an organisation that investigated alien activities and used their investigations to salvage alien artefacts to create deadly weapons to defend Britain. Series 3 was all about the introduction of the fob watch, a device that could be used to turn a Time Lord into a human along with the Face of Boe’s message that the Doctor was no longer the last Time Lord. Series 4 introduced the idea that planets were being stolen out of space and time along with the idea that Rose Tyler was returning to the Doctor’s universe.

The reoccurring theme of the Tenth Doctor era was the return of Classic monsters and villains and having them re-established within the New Series. The era brought the return of the Cybermen, the Master, the Sontarans, Davros and the Time Lords. The Tenth Doctor era also established the beginning of a brand new villain in the form of the Weeping Angels, a creature that Steven Moffat merely created for a filler episode due to scheduling complications but miraculously went on to become a classic amongst fans across the world. Another major addition in the Tenth Doctor era was the introduction of River Song, a mysterious character who had foreknowledge of the Doctor’s future. Her first appearance laid the way for many adventures and mysteries to come which would be slowly revealed throughout the Eleventh Doctor era.

After three successful series, the Tenth Doctor’s era headed towards its end through the means of a Specials year which contained scattered one-off specials which led to the Tenth Doctor’s final two-part story ‘The End of Time’. The theme introduced for this was prophecies. Prophecies have rarely been touched upon within Doctor Who and for this it was used to signal the Tenth Doctor’s demise. Russell T Davies bowed out from show-runner and left the way to Steven Moffat who would go on to revamp the show even further with yet another brand new era which would take the show into a whole new territory and visit areas of the Doctor’s past that must never be spoken of.

Character Traits, Personality and Catchphrases

The Tenth Doctor was a definite contrast to his previous self while, like all his other incarnations, retained the essence of the Doctor and continued key traits. The Tenth Doctor was a more hyperactive and fun loving Doctor, enjoying the adventures he took and the company of his friends. He certainly contained a humanity about himself, beyond all other Doctor’s. For the first time the Doctor was less alien and more inclined with his sentimental side and acted with a human heart. Also like the Eighth Doctor, the Tenth Doctor brought back a romantic side which he showed mostly to Rose Tyler. Although the Tenth Doctor had a very human side to him, he was also one of the darkest Doctor’s when provoked and due to the damages caused to him in the Time War, his sense of forgiveness was very slim and his anger towards those who inflicted death and destruction to others were met with no remorse.

eotdec-(22)The beginning of the Tenth Doctor was certainly shaky. At first the regeneration process was met with stability as he observed his new body in ‘Doctor Who: Children in Need’ and was pleased to see the results. But when Rose Tyler was frightened of his change, he decided to take her home. He was then struck with trauma as his regeneration started to go wrong. He experienced harsh seizures and then had a mental breakdown, becoming almost manic in behaviour as he increased the speed of the TARDIS and ultimately caused it to crash land in ‘The Christmas Invasion’. Upon exiting the TARDIS he collapsed before Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler. He spent the majority of the story in a state of sleep while he recovered from the damages caused by the regeneration. Rose disturbed him at one point so that he could rescue them from the Pilot Fish but soon fell unconscious again.

In the end the fumes from split tea within the Console Room gave him the kick he needed to recover and saved the day by having a sword fight with the Sycorax Leader. The Tenth Doctor in the process lost his hand but managed to grow it back using the remaining energy left over from his regeneration cycle. During post regeneration he wore a different set of clothes for a long period of time before deciding upon his new outfit. This had been seen before during the regeneration process of the Third, Fourth and Eighth Doctor. Like previous Doctors, Ten went to his wardrobe and picked out his new clothes. This time he settled on a brown pinstripe suite with Converse All-Stars and a brown trench coat. Also like previous incarnations he had alternative versions of his costume.

The Tenth Doctor’s human side made him a more loving and fun character to be around. He tended to keep a massive smile on his face and simply enjoyed his journeys through time and space. The Tenth Doctor was very much a good friend to all his companions and welcomed them with open hands. He became almost like a family man, especially with Rose Tyler and her family. The Ninth Doctor wasn’t very close to Jackie Tyler but the Tenth Doctor warmed up to her more and his friendship with Mickey Smith increased even further and began accepting him as a hero and no longer the bumbling idiot (or the tin-dog as Mickey himself put it). With Martha Jones’s family it took a lot longer for the Tenth Doctor to become accepted by Francine Jones after the Master manipulated her trust in him but by the end of ‘Last of the Time Lords’ they showed a mutual respect for one another. Donna Nobles family had a mixed feeling. The Tenth Doctor got on really well with Wilfred Mott but had a problem with Donna’s mum Sylvia Noble, similar to Francine, but after a while they too grew a mutual respect for each other.

The Tenth Doctor was certainly very emotional which brought out both the good in him and the worst. He was certainly a romantic at heart, similar to the Eighth Doctor. With Rose in particular there was a strong chemistry between her and the Tenth Doctor, which had already started in his previous incarnation, and grew stronger and stronger as their adventures went on. In the end there was a clear sign that they both had feelings for each other but neither one of them spoke about it directly. It was clear in ‘Doomsday’ the Tenth Doctor was devastated by her loss and that loss damaged him for a long period of time afterwards. The Tenth Doctor was delighted to see her again in ‘The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End’ but was then saddened to let her go once again, this time leaving her with his Meta-Crisis incarnation. Although she would be happy, the Tenth Doctor knew that he himself could never be with her.

His emotional side would often lead him to his darker side. This usually occurred when he confronted the Daleks and he even stated in ‘Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks’ that his disgust in them was the fact they kept surviving whilst he lost everything. Due to the Time War the Tenth Doctor became very much a pacifist when it came to using weapons. He would often inform others of his distaste in using them to solve problems. One occasion that made his heart boil was when General Cobb’s shot his daughter Jenny in which made him nearly shoot down his enemy but later announced in a raged voice that he never would, implying he was the better man.

The pacifist nature within the Tenth Doctor even altered his perception and friendship with U.N.I.T. with him being very much against them and their methods, a side to him that had never been seen so extreme before alongside his old teammates. It was noted many times that the Third Doctor disagreed with the Brigadier’s military methods but never to the point where he despised their very presence.

womspacesuitThe bloodshed experienced throughout his life made him very unstable which combined with his emotional side in terrible ways that caused the Tenth Doctor to experience breakdowns. This certainly occurred later on in his time-stream after he was forced to erase Donna Noble’s memories of her travels with him. After this event the Tenth Doctor was driven into a deep state of depression and exiled himself away from the idea of picking up any more companions, even refusing Lady Christina de Souza in ‘Planet of the Dead’. After, in the same episode, he was given his dark prophecy of his demise, the Tenth Doctor spiralled even further into an emotional breakdown that caused him to snap in ‘The Waters of Mars’ where he declared himself as Time Lord Victorious and tried to control time after becoming fed up of it taking everything away from him. By the end of the story he had realised he had gone too far and entered his final state of depression upon knowing death or regeneration was fast approaching. The Tenth Doctor was the first incarnation to really talk about his feelings towards regeneration and implied it felt like death for each Doctor as their existence faded away and was replaced by a new one.

The Doctor’s manipulative side was seen slightly used in ‘Human Nature/The Family of Blood’ when the Tenth Doctor engineered to have himself become human until the Family of Blood died out. The process led to a long game of cat and mouse in 1913 England which resulted in many deaths (a fact that Nurse Redfern pointed out once the Tenth Doctor had returned). As it turned out, the Tenth Doctor merely hid himself to be kind and tried to do the Family a favour knowing too well immortality was a curse. Due to their persistence and acts of killing, he punished them all by imprisoning each of the members in cruel ways and to add to their punishment he made sure they were all given immortality. This was one of those moments the Doctor showed off his powers and demonstrated what happens when enemies push him to the limit.

The Tenth Doctor was on many occasions very forgiving, especially towards his greatest enemies the Master and Davros. After defeating both of them he offered them his friendship and wanted justice brought to them. With the Master the Tenth Doctor wanted to make himself his guardian and look after him but was completely devastated to see him refuse to regenerate after being shot by his wife Lucy Saxon. With Davros he wanted to save him from death as the Cruciform fell apart but was shocked to see him refer to him as ‘the destroyer of worlds’ after refusing his help. Davros had already shown him the truth of his terrible life by making him remember all those who had died in his name.

The Tenth Doctor took a long emotional journey throughout his time-line. It was all about redemption after the events of the Time War and his Ninth incarnation and becoming a new and better man. To some degree he reached this point but no matter how hard he tried the darkness and sadness within him would always return to haunt him. In many ways the Tenth Doctor was the loneliest of all the Doctor’s due to him coming to terms with who he really was and what he had done. The Tenth Doctor took on so much emotional baggage and yet retained his smile and kept on going to try and remain the fun, human man he wanted to become in order to look forward. Being the last of the Time Lords was certainly a reoccurring sad point in his life, especially when remembering what he had lost when talking to Martha Jones in ‘Gridlock’ and when coming face to face with the Master again in ‘Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords’. As it turned out in ‘The End of Time’ the Time Lords had become totally corrupt and the Tenth Doctor was simply remembering them how he wanted to remember them in order to shroud the pain of their corruption from his hearts. In many ways his emotional story all added up to the reasons he didn’t want to leave in the end, fearing what he might become and the fact he might lose all the good he tried to build upon.

The Tenth Doctor’s traits included chucking his brown trench-coat about the place when he no longer required it along with donning his brainy specs in order to look both cool and intelligent. Another of his traits was his love for running around which he did in every single one of his stories.

The Tenth Doctor’s catchphrases included ‘allons-y’, ‘molto-bene’ and frequently shouting out ‘oh yes’ to get his point across. He also said “sorry” rather a lot…

Continues on page 2 with the companions of Tennant’s era…