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“Well isn’t that Wizard!” The Many faces of Donna Noble

Guest contributor Connor Johnston pays tribute to the talented Catherine Tate on her day of birth.

donna-doctor-who-f

To think that it’s been just under 8 years since the much loved Donna Noble graced our screens for the first time in the final scenes of Series 2’s “Doomsday” is enough to make anyone of us feel old! One person who isn’t letting the years show is the ever stunning and talented Catherine Tate: the wonderful woman that brought such a beautiful character into our lives and affections, and who celebrates her 46th birthday today.

It’s a testament to Ms. Tate that even after so much time having elapsed since she put her mark on the Whoniverse and with only 16 televised episodes to her name, that she continues to be held in the highest regard and prove to be so popular among fans today. In honour of Catherine’s birthday I’ve chosen to pay tribute and commend her exceptional talent by pick out just a few of the many many different layers of depth that Catherine brought to the role of Donna Noble. So Spacemen! Let’s Begin!

The Best Mate
“The Runaway Bride and Partners in Crime”

“You just want to Mate?!”

tennant-tate-genWhen Donna Noble began travelling on the TARDIS full time in Series 4 she came after two companions that both had a substantial love interest in the Doctor as part of their main plots. Wanting to offer a clear differentiation between Rose, Martha and Donna the decision was made that Donna and Ten’s relationship would be a very different one to any relationship that Ten had had with any other of his companions – they were going to be best mates. From the first episode of Series 4, “Partners in Crime” it was clear that the connection Donna and the Doctor had was instant. They fit together like puzzle pieces; travelling the universe and defeating bad guys together as a team, always moving forward and “Onwards” to new horizons hand in hand. As a best friend Donna thought it almost her duty to look out for the Doctor, striving not only to protect him from monsters and enemies but also from on more than one occasion, himself. Their relationship was perfect: supportive, equal and with both parties having such a deep respect and admiration for one another that the duo just worked. In turn this lead to a series that is renowned for working brilliantly with the fan base, and a TARDIS team that will go down in Who history as one for the greatest of all time.

The Compassionate Companion – “Fires of Pompeii -- Planet of the Ood”

“You’ve got to go back! Doctor, I’m telling you, take this thing back! It’s not fair. Just save someone! Please!”

donna-tate-planet-oodWhen Catherine was announced as the new main companion for Series 4 at the time, most of us anticipated that she was going to be a very outspoken companion and with Catherine’s comedic background it was obvious that she would bring an entertaining aspect to the show. What no one was expecting was how emotionally invested and how compassionate the character of Donna would be and how exceptional Catherine would be in showing Donna’s emotional battles. The truly admirable compassionate and caring nature of Donna was capture perfectly in the second and third episodes of Season Four: “Fires of Pompeii” and “Planet of the Ood”.

In the volcanic venture Donna is faced with internal conflict knowing that all of the people that she saw in the streets of Pompeii would be dead in a matter of days. Donna reacted as ever any of us would, immediately setting out to rescue as many innocent lives as possible. However as the gravity and reality of the situation dawned on her, she began to understand how very little she could do to make a difference to the fate of this people. What is undoubtedly one of the highlights of not only Donna’s time on the show but also Catherine’s acting ability is the climaxing scenes of “Fires” where Donna makes the heart wrenching plea for the Doctor to just save somebody. It’s so realistic and so heartbreaking and showcases yet another of Catherine’s talents sensationally. In Planet of the Ood we get yet another reminder of how passionate Donna can be for the rights of others: Standing up to the head of the corporation and being so affected by way the Ood were treated.

The Brave Warrior – “The Sontaran Stratagem/ the Poison Sky”

“Back of the neck.”

donna-sontaranFranklin P. Jones once said “Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid”. Throughout Donna’s time aboard the TARDIS she was constantly being exposed to wonders beyond belief, but also found herself put in a lot of horrific and dangerous experiences. One of the scariest positions Donna found herself in was in the Series 4 Sontaran two-parter “The Sontaran Stratagem” and “The Poison Sky”. Stuck on board a kidnapped TARDIS (and not for the last time “Quelle dommage, Davros”) Donna is faced with a gut-wrenching choice of having to put herself in incredible danger, walking into a space ship full of armed war-thirsty Sontarans and reopen the teleport link to help save the choking population below. Tate’s acting in this scene is so realistic – portraying Donna’s fear so realistically with the line “He’s going to kill me” sending shivers down my spine every rewatch. Even though she is scared out of her wits we watched this sensational temp from Chiswick summon up the courage of a full grown mountain lion and bravely continues through the battle field and eventually completing her mission as the brave, determined fighter she is.

The Hilarious Entertainer – “The Unicorn and the Wasp”

“Shake, milk shake, milk? Milk? No, not milk? Hm, shake shake shake… Cocktail shaker! What do you want, a Harvey Wallbanger”

donna-unicorn-glassIt’s no secret that Catherine Tate is the Queen of Comedy, and there were countless moments throughout her Doctor Who run that she excelled in making us as an audience laugh ’till we fell on the floor in hysterics. But what has to be her comedic standout as Donna is “The Unicorn and the Wasp”. It’s clear that during this episode Catherine Tate has tremendous fun flexing her capabilities in her natural element with several hilarious moments possibly making it the funniest Doctor Who episode to date! What is even more hilarious than the killer one liners Donna has (and that unforgettable charade scene) throughout the murder mystery is how entreating Donna finds the whole adventure; whether it be investigating an empty room, looking for something salty or watching on with popcorn as the murderer’s deception is unravelled – every movement and every piece of dialogue is delivered with such pizazz by Tate that it is a joy to watch.

The Most Important Woman in all of Creation – “Series 4”

“I just want you to know there are worlds out there, safe in the sky because of her. That there are people living in the light, and singing songs of Donna Noble, a thousand million light years away. They will never forget her, while she can never remember.”

donna-tate-smileAt the end of the day this article could go on forever: The Intelligent Adversary, The Sassy Temp, and The Long Suffering Lover -- the list could go on and on! And it is all thanks to the amount of time and effort Catherine invested in the character of Donna that had her character develop across the board throughout her relatively short time with the Doctor and should be the companion that all future Doctor Who stars look to and admire at the variety and many faces she brings to the role. Donna was a hero; a saviour of worlds and races, a compassionate caring person, a brave warrior, a hilarious entertainer, the Doctor’s best mate and truly the most important woman in all of creation. The fact that Donna never believed in herself but eventually grew and gained a confidence in herself with the Doctor is what makes her ultimate fate so much more tragic. Donna forgot her time with the Doctor but also forgot her belief in herself, and the companion we’d all fallen head over heels for; who entertained, inspired and delighted we had been stolen away for good.

And so it’s on that cheery note that I once again applaud and wish a Happy Birthday to the extremely talented Catherine Tate and thank her for the sensational gift to the Whoniverse in the form of The Funny, the Compassionate and The Brave Donna Noble. As an extra special birthday treat we’ve attached the BBC special: “Donna’s Life in 90 Seconds” below for your entertainment purposes.

Many happy returns, Catherine!

Step back in time...

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57 comments
WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

Donna was great but there have been better new series companions in my opinion. Rose, Amy, Clara...

MJJ
MJJ

Happy Happy, Catherine.

JoehWh0
JoehWh0

'You might have eyes on the back of your hands, but you'll have eyes on the back of your head when I'm finished with you, LET ME GO!' My favourite Donna quote. What a legend. 

TheOncomingStorm
TheOncomingStorm

I loved her with Ten so much. Their chemistry was literally perfect, second best companion EVER. Happy Birthday!

Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

“You’ve got to go back! Doctor, I’m telling you, take this thing back! It’s not fair. Just save someone! Please!”. The Doctor saves, himself... *mind explodes after the realisation*


Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

Don't you just love David Tennant's hair in that promotional picture for the Unicorn and the Wasp. 


DaftDalek
DaftDalek

Happy birthday! Easily the best actress to have portrayed a companion at least in NuWho and a serious contender for the best companion of all!

SteveWillis
SteveWillis

I loved Donna as a character. She got under my skin when she was brash, but she mellowed out by the end of the Christmas episode. You got to see her develop positively throughout series 4. My only problem is I don't know why we needed to know about Donna in The End of Time. Her scenes didn't add anything. The only thing that added was seeing her successful Marriage, it gave us some closure. She may have unravelled, but at least we assume she'll have a happy human life.                    I am not keen on Catherine Tate though. I don't enjoy how when Science Fiction is brought up on TV conversations with her that she mocks it. It's probably done out of humour, but it's quite distasteful given she's been part of it (Science Fantasy Adventure). Especially since all other NeWho companion actors show they have a respect for that Genre if they aren't keen on it. Jenna says that she was"deprived the privilege of watching the show" before she was cast which is a polite thing to say. She's honest that she didn't know much about it, but she didn't insult it either. She was respectful.






PhotonFromOz
PhotonFromOz

An excellent tribute to my favourite redhead !

craig33
craig33

8 years and you feel old? Kinell, I remember being terrified watching the deadly assassin. I'm only 41 but now feel effin ancient.

Mikeyboss182
Mikeyboss182

I love Donna so much she is my favourite New Who companion. Her and Ten were just brilliant together, there was no romantic crap, no mysteries just two best mates going off to explore the universe.


HitchcockWhovian
HitchcockWhovian

The lack of a second series with Donna was probably the biggest heartbreak of RTD announcing his departure. Series Four was my favourite - the show seemed to be effortlessly engaging, and a huge part of this was Donna Noble. She's without question my favourite companion - so well-written, RTD's masterstroke, I think. The genius in her is showing how normality can be so beautiful; her down to earth, compassionate concerns and no-nonsense attitude is just a perfect foil for 10, and for the show in general. The realisation in Turn Left of her imminent death is truly devastating, her heartbreak over loosing her family in Forest of the Dead moves me to tears every single time, she's so quick off the bat and effortlessly witty in the series as a whole, and don't get me started on Planet of the Ood... Catherine Tate, happy birthday - you're magnificent, and you'll always hold a special place in my heart. 

MusicalWho
MusicalWho

I wonder why it didn't show the DOctor's Daughter. In that episode she showed compassion with Jenny and figured out the codes. 

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

A very happy birthday to Catherine Tate! She was bloody fantastic as Donna. A pity her story ended the way it did.

Geekette221B
Geekette221B

My favorite New Who companion. Happy Birthday, Catherine Tate!

Whovian
Whovian

Fantastic article! Happy birthday to the wonderful Catherine Tate! I love Catherine, and Donna is one of my favourite companions. My favourite Donna moments are mostly from Partners in Crime, which is just hilarious. Donna was the best thing to happen to the Tenth Doctor. Forget Rose and Martha, Donna was just brilliant!

SouffleBoy
SouffleBoy

You started off in the series as basically a way to stop everyone crying over Rose Tyler, and I have to say it worked! That hour of backtalk, sass and loudness is what I think the series needed. But, then you returned a year and a bit later, but with character progression, and depth, and an wonderful on-screen family, it just made me fall in love with Donna, and it's all thanks to you. You can write the most wonderful character ever, but you need someone as equally as wonderful to play her. Happy Birthday, Catherine, and I really hope to see you on DW again. :)

sontaran17
sontaran17

Well after a rocky start (including falling asleep on my computer while writing the article and only waking up 30 minutes before it was due published -- that was a rush to the finish line) thats article number 16 complete! And what a privlage to write about one of my favourite companions of all time: Donna Noble. Donna encompassed everything that is Doctor Who and her popularity can only be attributed to Catherine's flawless acting of the part. Happy Birthday you beautiful woman! ~~Connor


shyx111
shyx111

Donna is THE companion of the Tenth Doctor.

I have to say, I always wanted to see her back in the 50th, she was so great! And, can you imagine her reaction to Eleven?! XD

Happy birthday to Catherine!! Hope to see you again in the future!

jamesanash101
jamesanash101

Great article, you pointed out exactly why I love Donna! Series 4 was brilliant, one of my, if not my favourite. Happy Birthday Catherine Tate, a true Doctor Who legend!


TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

I will always love Donna Noble.  To me, besides just having the most compelling development of all of the recent companions and, I would argue, the most tragic departure, she represents a perfect balance between the two who came before her: the less mature and emotional Rose Tyler, and the very mature and together Martha Jones.  And her journey from being someone with no sense of self-worth and no feeling of belonging in the universe to the confident, stalwart person she became under Ten is one of the best arcs in the whole of the new show.  And of course, thanks largely to Catherine Tate's and David Tennant's comedic chemistry, it was also able to be one of the most truly light-hearted pairings in the history of the show.  This is made even more true by the fact that it is not weighed down by any feelings of romance, unrequited or otherwise.  


Thank you, Russell T. Davies for creating this wonderful character; and thank you Miss Catherine Tate for bringing her to breathtaking life.  And a very happy birthday to you.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

Catherine Tate as the Moment >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Billie Piper as the Moment. It would have been SO much more powerful.

Huknar
Huknar

I don't think anything will ever be as great as Donna and Ten. They were the epitome of Russell's era and made series four the masterpiece that it was.

supermoff
supermoff

Happy birthday to the amazing Catherine Tate. 

Donna was a fantastic companion, certainly the funniest, and the Ten-Donna relationship was just absolutely sublime (one of the best TARDIS crews right there). One moment, she could be all "you're not mating with me sunshine" and the next she could show incredible ranges of emotion and compassion, making her one of the most intricate characters in the whole of Doctor Who, and her farewell in "Journey's End" was honestly heartbreaking. She is RTD'S masterpiece, with her best outings in the first three episodes of Series 4, "The Unicorn and the Wasp", and "Turn Left". It's a shame she couldn't have been there longer! 

Baker Street is excited for Series 8!
Baker Street is excited for Series 8!

Happy Birthday Catherine! I love Donna and she is undoubtedly one of the best Who companions, thanks to the complexity of her wonderful character and the variety of "personas" we saw. She truly was the Doctor's best mate, and it was an absolute joy to watch.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

Love Donna. Easily RTD's best companion (Not really saying much, but still) and possibly one of the best companions of all time.

MrRazza, the Newly Qualified Omega Identifier
MrRazza, the Newly Qualified Omega Identifier

Donna always will be my favourite. A diverse, well developed character who made us laugh and made us emotional, and was in many ways totally unimpressed by the Tenth Doctor. Real, amusing and in my opinion saw easily the most effective departure of a companion of the revival. 

Ms Tate is a fine actress and comedienne.



The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

My favourite Donna moments are in Parteners in Crime and The Unicorn and The Wasp don't really know why I just loved those episodes. And actually I can't think of a single episode where she did't just blow our minds with her performance ( and Journey's end was simply heartbreaking I always shed a tear when I hear the Doctor's little speech to Wilf)


Happy birthday Catherine and thank you for being one of the greatest companions ever!

Liana21
Liana21

I love Donna, she's fantastic. Sassy and though in the outside, compassionate and brave on the inside plus funny, the best Companion of David Tennant and a clear Top 10 in the overall of all Doctor Who history for so many of us.

I would've loved have her on the Anniversary, Clara and her would've liked each other, and I'd love see her again.

Happy Birthday Catherine, you're awesome

PaddyB
PaddyB

Doctor-Donna-Friend

The Bad Wolf Guy
The Bad Wolf Guy

Donna was absolutely brilliant as a companion, Catherine played her beautifully with a mix of good humour and deep emotion. Happy 46th Birthday Catherine!!!


The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

Donna had the best punch lines any companion ever had. 

She and The Tenth Docytor made such a good team especially because there was no hidden agenda behind their relationship (like Rose and Martha who both had feelings fot The Doctor) and they could just roam the Universe having plenty of fun!!

Who is the Doctor
Who is the Doctor

@shyx111  Here is hoping that Big Finish Productions picks up the rights to the new era Doctors and companions so we can hear more of Catherine and David together.

Amy is Hannibal
Amy is Hannibal

And that's not to say that Billie was bad. She was great. But Catherine, in my opinion, would have been the perfect choice.

supermoff
supermoff

Oh, and another great article Connor. Article number sixteen, I believe! I hope you keep doing this for a long time. :)

Liana21
Liana21

For me is Partners in Crime, the speech to Halpern, Gores of Pompeii and Journey's End

floppy_who
floppy_who

@Who is the Doctor @shyx111 David and Catherine did a short stint presenting a Saturday morning radio show on Radio 2 a few years ago- their chemistry was evident, the three hours just shot by each week. Let's hope they can do it again some day..!

TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

@Amy the Consulting Key Ring  If they could've arranged it, I wouldn't have minded if the Moment had taken the forms of a few of the Doctor's companions.  But let's be honest; Day of the Doctor being the fan service fest that it was, whether you like it or not, who else would they bring back in that capacity if they could only get one? 

sontaran17
sontaran17

@supermoff  What are you on about you crazy kid. This is Article number 34332.... Oh wait no thats wrong, Hmm I might hire you to be my bookkeeper: You can be the best temp in DWTV!