David Tennant hands over to Ncuti Gatwa in unprecedented regeneration

Warning: this review contains spoilers

It was never going to be a straightforward regeneration. Last year, as Jodie Whittaker drew to the end of her time in the Tardis, we sat and watched as she regenerated into Ncuti Gatwa. Except she didn’t. To the astonishment of even the TV critics, who had not been given prior warning, she regenerated into David Tennant, ushering in the most exciting new Doctor Who era for some time. 

This time, the third and final episode of this micro-series, the regeneration wasn’t just complicated, it was unprecedented. In a clever bit of Whovian trickery, Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor was yanked in from the future (clearly unexpectedly; he was only wearing a shirt and underpants) – and bizarrely ended up briefly spliced with Tennant’s Fourteenth. 

This “bi-generation” means we’re in multi-Doctor territory, which has certainly happened before but is normally only temporary. For now, Tennant’s Doctor remains, taking a well-earned break with Donna and her family (it turns out 900-year-old aliens need to look after their mental health too), meaning he could be open to on and off-screen adventures. And Disney will certainly be looking to expand the Whoniverse, Marvel-style. What’s unclear is how much of a shadow he will cast over Gatwa’s new, cheeky and confident Doctor. It would be very unfair if Gatwa weren’t given the chance to fully take centre stage.  

Doctor Who showrunners do love to keep their fans on their toes – as much as they like to draw heavily on current trends and repackage them for a sci-fi story. Here, Russell T Davies took a modern thing – the interminable squabbles on social media – and presented it to us in real-world form. The sudden chaos that greeted the Doctor and Donna (Catherine Tate) when they stepped out of the Tardis in Camden at the end of last week’s episode was caused by almost everyone on Earth now thinking they were always right about everything. Yes, this was Twitter – sorry, X – brought to life.  


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