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Doctor Who Could Have Ended With Tennant

tennant-nooo Steven Moffat has revealed that the BBC considered ending Doctor Who after the Tenth Doctor’s run.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, he said: “David owned that role in a spectacular way, gave it an all-new cheeky sexy performance and became a national treasure. And he didn’t do it instantly, he did it over time. So the idea that Doctor Who could go on at all in the absence of David was a huge question.”

“I didn’t realise how many people thought it wouldn’t succeed at all. That was quite terrifying when I found out about it later.

“I think there were plans maybe to consider ending it. It was Russell T Davies saying, you are not allowed to end it.”

Step back in time...

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257 comments
Polyphase
Polyphase

I thought David Tennant might be the end of Doctor Who as well, He almost ruined it for me. Matt did revitalise it to some degree but hopefully Peter will be the shot in the arm that the show desperately needs :)

Maiden_Ty_One
Maiden_Ty_One

Oh please! I am so sick of hearing people prostrating themselves before David Tennant as the most "amazing" Doctor ever - I'm sorry but he just wasn't. He wasn't! Simple as! He didn't capture the essence of the character at all, in fact I found him quite incongruent with who "the Doctor" is supposed to be. Why does everyone think he was so god damn impressive? He just wasn't. 


I've got nothing against David Tennant as an actor, and he was by no means the worst Doctor, but he was hardly up there with the best of them. The idea that he was the greatest ever and that the show wouldn't work WITHOUT him, is absolutely bloody ridiculous, and laughable.

Romanadvoratrelundar
Romanadvoratrelundar

I have never heard anything more ridiculous in my life. Sorry, but the people who thought this obviously knew nothing about Classic Who


ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

Well, this might explain why the writing for Tennant's departure was so hysterically overwrought. He's easily my favorite Doctor, but the tone they set for his "death" was much too grim for this show and they made it much too tragic for a character who cheered up once he was fed fish sticks and custard.  Matt did a fine job of filling his shoes.

Anthony Retondo
Anthony Retondo

If there is one thing that I can say without certainty (and I imagine that many would agree) it is that Doctor who — If not better or worse now — has certainly gotten more ambitious the past four years.

davidbrummy
davidbrummy

Doctor Who always goes through patches of should it go on.  When Troughton left there was a big question over the series as ratings were historically low.  The Earth bound style improved popularity enough to keep it going through the early 70's.

TheCapaldiMasterplan
TheCapaldiMasterplan

This shows just how little faith the BBC had in Doctor Who back then. Hopefully, when Moffat leaves in the next four years (assuming he stays until the end of Capaldi's era), the BBC don't have the same fears and actually pull the plug.

Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

This doesn't surprise me to be honest. The overall quality of the show has rapidly declined since Moffat took over as show runner and when Smith became the Doctor. Saying that, there have been some good moments from the past four years, but they will never equal to the quality of the RTD era with Eccleston and Tennant in the lead role. I think the only thing that has saved the show in recent times is the good acting by Smith, despite dreadful scripts and probably the ratings boost because it appeals to the likes of the USA more since 2010. 


Riker
Riker

It would've been a sad day in Who-land, but if it could've ended and tied up some lose ends, I'd would've been OK with it. Can you imagine, The Doctor travels back along the way to The Library, touching past Companions. He gets saved into the computer system, and waiting for him is River. "Hello, Sweetie. No more spoilers. Welcome home." Yeah, I would've been happy with that.

Ace Pirosu
Ace Pirosu

@Maiden_Ty_One I think of him as one of the best Doctors, but that doesn't mean he's the greatest thing ever to grace the show with his prescense. I like him just because he had so many traits at the same time. He had Tom Baker's and Paul McGann's thirst for adventure, was as funny and childish as Tom Baker and Matt Smith, had Peter Davidson's want for peace while also having Christopher Eccleston's sense of justice and he had a dark side just like Sylvester McCoy and Matt Smith. He's my favourite because he could play the same scene in many different ways with many different personalities.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Oh, and he's starred in quite a few Shakespeare plays, making him popular as hell in my English class. :\




Jambo4358
Jambo4358

@Maiden_Ty_One I'm sure you didn't mean to come across like this, and you're more than entitled to your opinion on the subject, but presenting your opinion as fact like this is just petty. He's some people's favourite Doctor. He's not yours. That's life. Move on.

Polyphase
Polyphase

@Maiden_Ty_One I heard David say once that he wasn't a very good actor he just has a photographic memory for the script including everyone elses lines. I must say that after re watching his episodes several times this really does begin to standout. Quite an average actor with only a few facial expressions

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@Maiden_Ty_One 

There are two separate issues here.  The first is that the BBC thought the show couldn't go on without Tennant, which flies in the face of Doctor Who history. Once Troughton established that regeneration worked as a concept, and that the show could flourish without the previous actor, that should have been the end of this kind of hand-wringing. If Peter Davison could successfully replace Tom Baker, I think it's safe to say that any Doctor can be replaced with another excellent actor. What surprises me most about this recent article is that "A Writer's Tale" seems to indicate that the BBC was really pretty excited about Matt Smith coming in and everybody calmed down immensely about the turnover once they firmly established that Moffat would be picking up the reigns from Davies. If there was any real worry, it probably was more along the lines of them not knowing who would run it with Davies gone. 

I personally wonder if the news outlets haven't manipulated Moffat's comments to make the situation sound more dire than it really was. 


In answer to your question "Why does everyone think he (Tennant) was so impressive?" the answer is... because some of us really enjoyed him. That doesn't mean Matt Smith didn't do a bang-up job once he arrived.  He did.  Possibly we can debate the foolishness of believing any actor irreplaceable without devolving into a fan war about whether or not Tennant deserved respect for the work he did on the show.

 

Ace Pirosu
Ace Pirosu

@ClaireAbraham I liked how Davies wanted to make it feel like an actual death for once, but there are other Doctors who should have had an ending like this as well (Tom Baker in particular). And yeah, it does feel wasted when the new Doctor seems to be unphased by his previous incarnation's "death" :(

Maiden_Ty_One
Maiden_Ty_One

@ClaireAbraham Ugh....the whole point of the regeneration - especially when the show itself is changing hands - is that the SECOND the new Doctor comes in, that's it for the previous one. Done. Gone. All the goodbyes, farewells and sorry for their departure, gone the INSTANT the new Doctor shows up. That's the way it always was and that's the way it should be. I DESPISED that regeneration sequence, not because it was "grim" (I actually liked it when he was stumbling in the snow, it all went to hell when the ood showed up and started SINGING for god's sake...) but because it was ridiculous and over the top. I mean they really were saying, as writers "Our Doctor is the greatest ever and no one will ever be able to top him or us!". It was pathetic. The only part of it I liked was the fact that as soon as Matt Smith showed up, the tone completely changed, and it was fast and energetic and positive - that's how it SHOULD be, for god's sake. You don't want the new Doctor to spend half his first episode moping and whining about the loss of the previous one - especially when that makes no sense as it's supposed to be the same person!


And 10 was really, really, not that great.

supermoff
supermoff

@Anthony Retondo Most certainly :) The ambition is brilliant and, fortunately, I feel that it has paid off  (that's just me though). 

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@davidbrummy Exactly. It's always been like that and such concerns can in the best cases inspire people to do something truly great.

TheOncomingFish
TheOncomingFish

@Master Michael Moon Interesting, because for me it's completely the opposite. IMO the quality has improved drastically. It's no longer melodramatic and the stories and visuals are so much better. The scripts are the opposite of 'dreadful' and it's not just because of the USA taking an interest in it that DW is currently doing well. The viewing figures of the 50th should prove that; the fact that it was simulcast in so many different countries is amazing and shows that Moffat has brought the show to new levels of popularity. And really it's a testament to the quality of the current writing that it's managed to become so popular in the USA. 

StephenAHayes
StephenAHayes

Whether or not you are just saying this to create a bit of mischief I have no idea but data and facts say otherwise:

1. International figures since Moffat & crew took over have gone through the roof

2. It's the 2nd biggest export of the BBC to other countries (after Top Gear)

3. The showrunners and writers continue to win more awards (Hugo, BAFTA) and the showrunner that won these awards under the RTD era is now in charge

4. The number of acclaimed actors wanting to participate in the show has grown

5. The merchandise alone for the BBC is a cash-cow

Whilst everyone has their preference about who runs it best, in my opinion it has gone from strength to strength

Notsosmartguy approves of female thor
Notsosmartguy approves of female thor

@Master Michael Moon I respectfully disagree. Just because you don't like it anymore doesn't mean the quality of the show went down. Also should I be offended by that dreadful scripts only appealing to Americans thing? Or am I overreacting?

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@Master Michael Moon While I agree with much of what you say, it's not really relevant to the story. Moffat is simply pointing out how unsure the future of the show became when Tennant announced that he was leaving. The timing of Tennant's announcement must have given Moffat a sense of panic, because his original ideas for Series 5 featured Tennant traveling with Amy until it would be revealed that she had met him right before he would regenerate.

supermoff
supermoff

@Master Michael Moon How would they have known that he was so "bad" all the way back in late 2007/early 2008 when the decision was made? Of course, one's enjoyment of the show is perfectly subjective and you are more than entitled to your opinion, but Moffat must be doing something right for the show to be the enormous success it is now, right? Some of the most critically acclaimed episodes come from Moffat's era. And the only reason it appeals more to the USA and other countries is because of BBC's America's promotion of the show and the idea of broadcasting on the same day in the UK. 

The show is just as good as it was 4 years ago if not better. 

TheCapaldiMasterplan
TheCapaldiMasterplan

@Master Michael Moon Quality is very subjective, but obviously Moffat's doing something right otherwise the show wouldn't be so popular worldwide, more so than in any other era. Also, this was before Moffat even took over, back in 2008/2009.

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@Maiden_Ty_One @ClaireAbraham Yes, I agree that the sorrow for the previous Doctor should be over when the new one arrives, which is why I thought Tennant's regeneration story was presented as too tragic and too grim. The Doctor didn't die. He got a new face and everything was fine, as it should be. 


We can agree to disagree about whether or not 10 was a great Doctor, but only the viewers differentiate between 10 and 11 as if they were two different people.  Davies should not have wallowed in the whole "a new man goes sauntering away" thing as if it were a disaster. Same character, new actor.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

It's really sad that we keep moaning about the good old times and we don't see how good Who is in the present...The show is doing great and after the 50th it's arguably at it's strongest.

Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

I'm not implying anything. I'm only saying the show has become very successful around the world, but most prominently America. Not only has it filmed principal photography over there twice and more and more away from UK soil since Moffat taking over, but it's become part of comic con and the likes of BBC America has really got behind it. Don't get me wrong, I think that is great. But it's probably because of that success and identity expansion that the show has survived post Tennant. To many, Tennant WAS the Doctor, like a modern Tom Baker. Obviously in recent years, the style of the show has changed to a more fairy tale like quality. It's just it doesn't surprise me that Tennant leaving might have spelled it's end because of his success, something that I don't believe we have as much with the likes of Matt Smith, but that's only my opinion, remember.

NewWho2012
NewWho2012

@ClaireAbraham @Maiden_Ty_One I have to point out that I was the opposite of this at this point. I didn't immediately react positively with Matt Smith's arrival and first scene and didn't instantly move on like many fans are probably used to doing. It took me until half way through Series 5 or near the finale to fully warm to and like the Eleventh Doctor because the show had changed almost drastically at once, new Doctor, new companion, new showrunner, new titles, new variation of the theme tune, new TARDIS, new sonic screwdriver. I hadn't experienced that completely before. I was still quite young when Doctor Who returned and I discovered the show (I must've been 7) and Eccleston's quick departure meant I was puzzled at what was going on, but carried on to appreciate the show to its full potential as Tennant was the Doctor I became a complete fan and you can forgive me for the realisation that Tennant was the only proper Doctor I knew considering Eccleston hadn't stayed long enough for me to fully appreciate him and once Tennant left the show felt too different because he was all I had known and everything had changed too fast for my liking. 

Yes that's the working of the show and many older fans would be used to this transition but because I wasn't, it took me longer to adapt to everything and accept the Eleventh Doctor as the new one.

So yes you may think fans and such shouldn't mope over what has changed and ended and just get on with the new format, but sometimes it isn't as easy as that, especially if you've been used to something for so long and it's the only thing you've known of during that time, it can be more difficult than usual.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@supermoff @MaraBackman It must still be recognizable as the same show, so it can't be completely different from everything seen so far. That actually gives me hope, because I know Moffat well enough that he won't stray too far from his beloved childhood show for it to become somethinge else than Doctor Who. Like I already said, I don't want a repeat of anything previous either, but I do want the show to remind me of familiar elements from previous decades. Capaldi has already been compared to Pertwee and there has been rumours about his debut season feeling more reminiscent of the adventures seen in the 1960's and 1970's. This I don't see as a bad thing, because I see it more as an homage to what has come before and being mindful of the show's roots.

supermoff
supermoff

@MaraBackman @supermoff  In retrospect, I would probably amend that to "change is almost always a good thing" as, upon reflection there are a few examples where change isn't always wholly positive! But I still impress that radical change is necessary, and I personally don't want any repeat of the feel of the first four series (as I really don't like them) or the recent ones (as things will get stale). Being completely different from everything seen so far can only be a good thing, I feel. 





The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

Will series 8 be the one to please all Whovians? I doubt it but change is always exciting and hopes are high but that's how it's always been and the show rose to the challenge every time.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@supermoff @MaraBackman First of all, while change is necessary for the show to not become stale it is not always a good thing, as things can always change for the worse. I disliked the story of Matt's Doctor and never truly warmed up to him, so to me the change from Tennant to Smith was not a good one, but that is ultimately yet another subjective thing.

Second, while I too want Series 8 to feel like its own distinct thing, it will not exist in a vacuum and be completely different from everything seen so far. That is why I hate that type of reply whenever there is speculation about future Doctors and companions and people are dismissed for using existing points of reference. 

supermoff
supermoff

@MaraBackman Well, yes, it should change in the future and it will. No matter how much I love S5-S7, I know that if it remained in its format any longer, it would start to go stale. And change is always a good thing. 

But, I don't want it to go anywhere near what it was like before. Not even reminiscent. I want Series 8 not to be like Series 1, or Series 4, or Series 5, 6 or whatever, I want it to be different. I want it to be Series 8.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

Well, those of us who vastly preferred how the show used to be don't really agree that much with how good it would be in the present, as it is a completely subjective thing how you want it to be. Now I don't want it to be exactly the way it was five years ago or thirtyfive years ago, but I want it to change course from how it has been since 2011 and to become more reminiscent of those times. The casting of Capaldi and the various news about Series 8 is giving me hope and I'm willing to give Moffat a second chance.

supermoff
supermoff

@The Outer Space K9  You're right Outer Space K9. For a show focused so much on time travel, some people are so keen to remain in the past. There is so much brilliance in the recent few series, I wish some people would be a little bit more willing to give it a chance. 

social_crime
social_crime

@The Outer Space K9 Matt was so perfectly alien, if I ever met him on a plane I feel like I would have to explain how the seat belt works and there was food beyond fish sticks and custard so don't be upset if it's not being served.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

Stragest thing happened to me last year when I started watching classic Who. My first Doctor was David then I saw Matt and he's become my Doctor but DT was still second. But then I saw Troufgton and Tom Baker and my list changed radically because they were mad, alien  more like the Doctor should be. So although David was brilliant, very human and therefore accesible to everybody he just lacked that alien touch in my opinion.

supermoff
supermoff

@Notsosmartguy the Superior Venom @Master Michael Moon Tennant is an absolutely bloody marvellous actor (sublime in Broadchurch) but I too never understood the love for Tennant's "Doctor", which I put in inverted commas because he never was the Doctor. Not at any point did I feel he was playing an alien character, and I agree that he was a bit too human (but I blame that more on the writing than him). 9 and 11, especially 11, are not just far more interesting to observe, so you're not alone :)

Notsosmartguy approves of female thor
Notsosmartguy approves of female thor

@Master Michael Moon I never understood why Tennant's doctor is so popular. I'm not saying he's a bad actor or RTD is a bad writer I just find him overrated. When I started going back and watching the RTD era everyone was telling how good DT was and that he was the best...... but he didn't live up too the hype at all. He's too human for my taste I find the mysterious dark oddball Ness of 9 and the childlike yet somewhat bitter 11 to be much more interesting. But that's just me.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@social_crime @MaraBackman The "Raggedy Man" was supposed to be Ten before he regenerates into Eleven, but this wouldn't be revealed for Amy or the audience before the season finale.

social_crime
social_crime

@MaraBackman What do you mean she had met him before his regeneration, you mean when he was eccelston?

Ace Pirosu
Ace Pirosu

@MaraBackman @social_crime You mean Amy already knew The Raggedy Man before she met Ten, and we only find out who he is when Ten regenerates? That would have been cool, kinda like The Watcher in Logopolis.