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What if… Tennant had stayed for Series 5?

Guest contributor Nick Anderson looks into what might have been.

david-tennant-day-doctor

On 1 January 2010, Doctor Who fans around the world were forced to say goodbye to the Tenth Doctor, the Doctor for thousands upon thousands of people around the world (including me, although Smith and Tennant have been battling it out for top spot for weeks now). In his Christmas swan song, The End of Time, Parts 1 and 2, we watched the Tenth Doctor battle against the Master and the crazed leadership of Time War-era Gallifrey, before ending his life to save Wilfred Mott. But what if it went differently? What if David Tennant had opted to stay for one more year, one final series under the eyes of new showrunner Steven Moffat? Let me elaborate…

When pressed last year on the matter, Steven Moffat had this to say:

“I only had the roughest idea. Had David stayed for one final year, it would certainly have been his last, so my pitch was that it would start with the TARDIS crashing in Amelia’s back garden – as now – and a terribly battered and bruised Tenth Doctor staggering out.

Amelia finds him, feeds him fish custard (no that was for Matt, it would have been something more Davidy) and generally helps him. But we, the audience, can see he’s in a truly bad way. Dying maybe. Eventually he heads back to his TARDIS, and flies off.

But when he returns – many years later for Amy – he seems perfectly fine, and indeed doesn’t remember any of those events…And of course over time, we realise what we saw was the Tenth Doctor at the end of his life, about to regenerate. Events that we return to in Episode 13…”

Let that sink in for a second.

I’ve no doubt that there will be sections of the Whovian community who detest that idea, believing that Tennant was right to bow out when he did and allow a new Doctor and production team to effectively rebrand the show. There will be sections who would want to develop time travel technology to make this a reality, willing to give an arm or a leg (or, in true Tenth Doctor style, a hand…) to make it happen. Too obvious a Tenth Doctor pun? I’m sorry, I’m so sorry … (okay I’ll stop now!). I personally believe that Tennant was right to bow out on that fateful day in January 2010, but I’m intrigued as to the alternate history of the show if Moffat had been given creative control of the Tenth Doctor himself.

The Tenth Doctor and the Story Arc

the lodger crackThe first major point to consider would be the “Cracks in Time” story arc of Series 5, a part of the much wider Silence arc that spanned the entirety of the Matt Smith era. Would Moffat have begun such a heavy arc in the knowledge that his lead actor was bowing out at the end of the series, or could he have carried the arc across regenerations to the later Eleventh Doctor? The latter is certainly an interesting consideration.

With Tennant still in the role, I have trouble seeing the Eleventh Hour and Victory of the Daleks ever being produced. Both were crucial to establishing the new Doctor, the former in a very literal sense whilst the latter pitted Matt Smith against the Doctor’s most fearsome foes. So much of Series 5 was devoted to establishing Matt Smith’s Doctor that it is hard to rewrite it for a Doctor that had been in the role since December 2005, but I believe ideas like the Cracks in Time and the Pandorica would have been carried across. The Tenth Doctor being confronted by an alliance of foes his incarnation had actually faced before being imprisoned in the best prison in the universe, the swashbucklingTennant being brought to his knees after four series … you’ll have to leave it up to your imagination to envisage how remarkable that would be.

The Tenth Doctor and Amy Pond

radio-times-cover-party-2011In this alternate Series 5, Amy would first encounter the Doctor at the end of his life before waiting years to see a younger version of the same man. Certainly has all the trappings of a timey wimey Moffat series, especially if Karen Gillan stuck around for Series 6 and witnessed the regeneration of the Tenth Doctor into the Eleventh. Would she tell him, or be forced into Series 6-style secrecy about his inevitable death?

Instead of the childlike and obviously alien Eleventh Doctor, Amy would be travelling alongside the heroic and charismatic Tenth Doctor (not to say 11 wasn’t heroic or charismatic). This sets up a different dynamic between the two; the Doctor wouldn’t be as alien as he was in the real Series 5 (…tasting grass in The Hungry Earth, really?), and the cavalier Tenth Doctor and Amy would traverse the universe for a single series before his regeneration. Just as Clara is going to experience the clear difference between Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors, Amy Pond would bridge the gap between David Tennant and whoever followed him in this alternate reality.

The Tenth Doctor and River Song

river-tennant-silenceA small point that I thought of whilst writing this article, the likelihood is that Steven Moffat would still bring back the mysterious River Song for a Tennant Series 5. Again, the image of River Song and the Tenth Doctor battling the Weeping Angels is one that entertains the imagination, but would their dynamic be different if the Doctor wasn’t Matt Smith? From her comments in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, it is heavily implied that River’s main interactions were with the Doctor’s future incarnation(s), but to my mind at least it would make more sense for the pair to meet again under Tennant for continuity’s sake.

River Song is said to have pictures of every incarnation, and she clearly recognises Ten upon meeting him in the Library. Although Moffat heavily implied that the pair had adventures off-screen between The Waters of Mars and The End of Time, most notably at Asgard, it would arguably be much more satisfying for the audience to witness some of these adventures on the small screen. If her appearances in the series remained the same, we would have seen River Song and the Tenth Doctor interact on three separate occasions with potentially more occurring off-screen (or perhaps not if Ten didn’t embark on his pre-End of Time adventures). Could River’s description of “the future you, the real you” be reinterpreted to mean the older Tenth Doctor?

Conclusion

So, there we have it. There’s no accurate way of knowing how a Tennant/Moffat Series 5 would have unfolded – it could have been Tennant’s finest hour as much as it could have been his downfall as one of the world’s favourite Doctors. What this whole scenario is, however, is incredibly interesting. With David Tennant in the lead role for another series before bowing out, Matt Smith may not even be cast as the Eleventh Doctor. Instead of being afraid to change the show too much initially, Moffat could have cast an older actor and the history books could record Robert Carlyle or *gasp* Peter Capaldi as Doctor No. 11.

Tell me what you think in the comments! Allons-y!

Step back in time...

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104 comments
josephbernados
josephbernados

I really like this idea and it would have made for a very epic and deserved finale for the 10th Doctor, instead of the insipid tripe we got for EOT.  On the other end of the spectrum though, had Matt stayed on for series 8, Moffat would have been able to properly set up and lead to the events of "Time of the Doctor", it probably would've even been a two parter like it really should have been.






TravelinTexan
TravelinTexan

I think the theorizing is kinda fun, but it really was time for Tennant to go.  There's only so much emoting about being the last Time Lord that a person can take before it gets stale. There's also the scenario of the friend coming to your house and staying for too long. Most actors who have played the Doctor have done so for only three years. The obvious exception to this rule was Tom Baker, who stayed for seven years.

Venawesomeo
Venawesomeo

"And of course over time, we realise what we saw was the Tenth Doctor at the end of his life, about to regenerate. Events that we return to in Episode 13..." - well that's genuinely delightfully genius. Loved how it ended up with Matt but this would've been pretty cool too. Only thing that would've been weird is the general feel. Watch the RTD era then watch The Moff's.... episodes Series 5 onwards feel slicker (seriously no disrespect to how it was before... just an observation). Would've felt weird having that shift while the Doctor stayed the same.



RyanNicholls
RyanNicholls

Personally I think it's great the way that everything changed when Matt Smith became the doctor. Anyone who says there's no continuity is wrong. "A new man saunters away". Matt Smith was very much a new man, a different man. The entirety of Matt Smith's era would have been much poorer with any amount of the RTD era's shadow hanging over it. I do think it's a shame that John Barrowman didn't appear in A Good Man Goes to War though (as was planned), perhaps even a few more characters could have popped up. The fact that everything changes is continuity enough. A new doctor, of course he's different. I think it would have been a bigger continuity problem if everything had changed except the lead actor. The easing of the transition between the Ninth and Tenth Doctors worked because the established era was not ready to go. The RTD era was ready to go at the end of the 2009 specials and in the same way so was the Matt Smith era at the end of last year. Drawing either of those out further would probably have ruined it completely

Eradallion
Eradallion

How about we make it even better by having both Matt Smith AND David Tennant in series 5? Seeing as Moffat was talking about the first Tennant we meet is at the end of his life, we could also have Smith

MrsUnderhill
MrsUnderhill

It's for the best that David Tennant went when he went and Matt Smith came when he came. 

Moffat and RTD are two legends, too big to be obscured by each other's shadow. Moffat needed his own toys to play with, so to speak, to establish his own vision and direction.

And it's not true that Moffat era had no continuuity from RTD, that it was no connection. There were two connections: Murray Gold and River Song. Love them both.






kskdjhdje
kskdjhdje

but then they wouldn't be able to fit in the phrase about why the 11th still comes back for the Ponds - 'cause Amy's face was the first face the 11th saw, in "dinosaurs on a spaceship". and all this stuff about Amy's faith in Doctor when she was a child seems much less sense to me. as well as all storylines would've been more complicated to fit all together. but, everything's possible, just more accurate work to do. 





TheOneWhoKnocks
TheOneWhoKnocks

I think David should have stayed for a bit of series 5, maybe until flesh and stone. This would have eased the transition between show runners and still given us Matt. Win win situation, sadly that wasn't to be

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

Series 5 would have been even better with David Tennant as the 10th Doctor. He is and always will be the best Doctor. 

BrettStewart
BrettStewart

David was by far was my favourite Doctor of the new series, it was a pity he did not stay for one more season.  

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

I could imagine Ten's meeting with River in Series 5 to have been very different to when Eleven met her the first time. Eleven was a bit reserved and frosty, compared to when Ten met Jack at the end of the universe. But Ten might have been a bit more somber, either like when he revealed his identity to Sarah Jane or even more likely the way he behaved when he met Verity Newman, when he tried and failed to hide his sadness.

needcomicmoney
needcomicmoney

David and Karen together would have been just too sexy. Televisions around the world would have exploded.

BlueBoxBum
BlueBoxBum

In the end it worked out nicely without Tennant. Though, I have always said that the transition from Tennant to Smith was a little rough. New showrunner, new Doctor, new tardis, new companions. New, new, new. The show was hardly recognizable. Davies did a really great job of expanding the universe and it wasn't even a presence in the new series. It wasn't bad, it was just different.

I remember not liking Tennant at first, but he was easier to adjust to. You had Rose to make that transition. The audience was already comfortable with her, and through her we got to know 10.




AlinaNaomi
AlinaNaomi

I think a S5 with David would've been a more smooth transition between the RTD and Moffat era which was quite abrupt. But then again I really like S5 with Matt.. It's a very tricky question since Moffat's idea with Ten also sounds amazing. But why not both? I want a S5 in a parallel universe with Ten xD

DaftDalek
DaftDalek

Damn, Moffat's description sounds like series 6, but better!

heathb
heathb

Season 5 is my favorite season of the news series by far. It reminds me of season 13- writing, directing and music coming together beautifully. I think it is Matt Smiths best season as well. I am biased towards Matt Smith as I (please don't shoot me down) really disliked 10's persona. I think David Tennant is a good actor but in Doctor Who there was little subtlety to his performance. Way to shouty and OTT. However his performance in Day of the Doctor was actually fantastic. So no, I am gad he left when he did.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

Something else to consider: the Neil Gaiman story "The Doctor's Wife" had been originally intended for series 5. Also, how do people think Ten would have affected the relationship between Amy and Rory?

Lord of Time
Lord of Time

Hmm... Series 5 with Tennant or Smith… Why can't we have both?

Cameron96
Cameron96

Since so much was changed in Series 5 with brand new actors, producers, and production crew, it would've been nice to have one last series with Tennant, because it would help bridge the gap and make the new design of the show more recognisable (the best word to explain something I can't really explain). The alternate version of Series 5's story with the future Doctor landing in Amelia's garden and then Amy growing up and travelling with a younger version of the same Doctor sounds amazing, and I doubt Moffat would've changed the TARDIS interior to what it became in Series 5 because that doesn't find Tennant's Doctor, and the less design change, the more recognisable the series. On the other hand though, I must admit that I was getting tired of all the drama surrounding Tennant's Doctor in Series 4 and the Specials, so I was glad that he went when he did, and Series 5 was refreshing. Perhaps though, the new design of Series 5 would've helped refresh Tennant's Doctor for one last series? So ultimately, I think it might've been better if Tennant had stayed on for just one more year, to help connect all the design differences between the Davies era and the Moffat era.

AndrewMarsden
AndrewMarsden

The idea of Moffatt's first season being Tennant's last is absolutely fascinating. From Moffatt's comments, his regeneration would have been approached in a very interesting way indeed.

Oodkind
Oodkind

It sounds like an amazing run, though I do like the real Series 5. I would have loved for another series in between them, though. If Matt still was cast, and everything just got moved back a year, I would definitely have loved to see this! 

JFrance
JFrance

I would most definitely watch that version of series 5, (even though the series 5 we did get was fantastic) it sounds really interesting. I think David Tennant should of stayed for series 5. I had no problems with the transfer from RTDs era to Steven Moffats era but I know some people found it hard so i think he should of stayed just for one more series.

antimon_bush
antimon_bush

One Moffat-Tennant season would be great to make the transition from RTD era to Moffat era softer and more connected.

Liana21
Liana21

It's hard for me imagine David having the flirting that Matt and Alex had. They have a great chemistry in the Library, but I think that is better with Matt.

And I think that if him would have stayed for Series 5 maybe he would've been on series 6 and 7 because it would have been quite weird have two Doctors in a so tight and messy plot arc.

The_Eternal_Dalek
The_Eternal_Dalek

Wouldn't have been Capaldi as no. 11, Moffat himself has confirmed there is no way he could have followed Tennant.

awkward912
awkward912

Oi, I do the "What if..." articles! I'm joking of course, this is great and I have no time to write for here at the moment anyway. (But if anyone beats me to "What if... Matt Smith had stayed for series 8?" I will end them.)


One thing though: I would say with reasonable levels of confidence that if David had done series 5, Karen would not have been cast as Amy. She was picked for the partnership and chemistry with Matt. So that would have changed a few things...

LucasW
LucasW

I wonder what it would have done to A Christmas Carol? That wouldn't have been a good debut story! And series 6 would have been completely different - you can't kill a Doctor off in his second story.

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

i wonder if Amy might have actually been killed by Rory in TPO

NumberNine
NumberNine

Great article! This is the kind of writing and imagination that I love from DWTV.

Moxx
Moxx

Fantastic feature, Nick! I really love your style. I'm also fangirling over the image of David and Karen together which I had long since forgotten. There's so much potential -- it kills me to make a decision between Tennant Series 5 and Smith Series 5. Gah!

Cor. Imagine the repartee between him and River in Time of Angels, his mind-bending performance in Amy's Choice, or the undisputed Tennant epicness in The Pandorica Opens. Brilliant!

allons_ywibblywobbly
allons_ywibblywobbly

Fascinating concept! Although I think it would have been an amazing series with Tennant and he would have worked well with all the stories and even with Amy as a companion, I adored so much the series 5 with Matt (my favourite series of him) and the wonderful chemistry between Matt, Karen and Arthur, that I am very pleased with what we got.

 Also, I loved the character arc that Ten got from his first to his last episode (The End of Time was perfect in my opinion) so it's very hard to let go of that last episodes and imagine another send off for him.  So as much as it's indeed very interesting and I think it would have been great, but I like the way it was. I feel like Tennant left at the right time (and this is not easy for me to say, because his Doctor is my favourite!) Matt was absolutely brilliant so I'm glad we got to have him!

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

It's weird to think of 10 and Amy (and Rory?)



A lot would have had to change, the RTD Specials for a start, as they would have had to remove all those references to 4 knocks, and the foreseeing of 10's demise. How would TEOT have been rewritten, as you'd have to have 10 surviving but somehow not continuing with Wilf and all the other S1-4 regulars?


11 and Amy grew up together, Matt and Karen grew up together on the show, it would have been strange to see 11 arriving in S6 with an experienced Amy! Assuming that the Companions stayed the same, 11's main Companion would have been Clara rather than Amy, assuming he stayed for S8 his 3rd series. 


S5 turned into a completely fresh start, but then effectively the same happened for Pertwee's first series (apart from the Brig) and that was even more of a radical change, and a great success!

TerryDixon
TerryDixon

I think if Tennant had stayed, Karen Gillan wouldn't have been the actress that played Amy Pond. I believe Gillan was cast after Matt Smith had secured the Doctor role so Moffat could see which actress would play best against him.

LeslieFarrington
LeslieFarrington

can you imagine the chemistry between amy and 10.... mind boggles

Ninjauthor
Ninjauthor

wheres the picture of tennant and gillan from?

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

I'm extremely thankful he didn't stay for series 5 under Moffat and with that story arc.. Just not a big fan and I don't think it fits the 10th Doctor.

 But it would have been very interesting to have seen one whole series of his adventures between The Waters of Mars and The End of Time!  In general, I think his 4 series and his ending were  fantastic all around and his ending in TEoT very powerful and epic, I couldn't be happier.

newhorizons
newhorizons

Could have worked just as well. Would have given him a decent series. 

Meh Meh Meh Meh Meh
Meh Meh Meh Meh Meh

If he had stayed one more season, I never would have started watching Doctor Who. It's the sad truth!

jlocoleman
jlocoleman

@AlinaNaomi  Maybe in Rose Tyler's parallel universe they have Series 5 with a Metacrisis-Human Tenth Doctor xD

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

@VictorWong1 Ten would have appeared as a more conventional rival love interest, because by 2010 Tennant had aged into looking more rugged and manly than he had during his first season. Matt was still very boyish in 2010 and appeared even younger than Karen at the time, which made Amy's brief attempt at seducing the Doctor almost come across as a grown woman proposition a little boy. I actually think that was the intent, because they probably didn't want them to appear like a natural couple. The same scene with Tennant would have come across very different, with most of their interaction possibly being a bit too similar to Ten and Rose. Amy and Rose as characters have many similarities, with different decisions and some changes in the dynamic that makes the two appear more different than they actually are, but I'm certain that Moffat would have wanted to have avoided too close comparisons.

awkward912
awkward912

@Planet of the Deaf  No TEOT, Waters of Mars would have continued in its original plan as "Red Christmas" and "exploded" the Doctor in order for Steven to take over the show and re-build him again before regenerating at the end of s5.

DrunkenDalek
DrunkenDalek

But of that would have happened, then we would be like, imagined if matt had arrived earlier that would be so weird ect

The Watchful Observer
The Watchful Observer

If the specials were transformed into The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead and Red Christmas, that leaves one slot left for a special left by the original Waters of Mars.

I can't find any information on it, can anyone else?

awkward912
awkward912

@The Watchful Observer  I believe there were going to be fewer specials if David didn't leave. Though it was always unclear if The Next Doctor was part of this "count", I'm pretty sure three specials were announced as bridging the gap between series, increasing to at least incorporate the last two-parter when David announced his departure. (This may explain why BBC One found it so inexplicably tricky to schedule Waters of Mars.)