Last spring, for our Fiction’s Fearless Females series, I wrote a piece about Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor. In it I said she had officially taken the top place in my heart from David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t adore Ten with all my heart! I just love Thirteen more. So last week, as both Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant joined James Cordon (who was also on Doctor Who with Matt Smith!) on The Late Late Show, I was in heaven. Then I started thinking about how AMAZING it would be if we could see these two together on screen, side by side, both playing their respective Doctor. And, while I trust showrunner Chris Chibnall to pull it off far better than I could, I contemplated how I’d do it. So, as far as I’m concerned, this is how these two Doctors could meet.
But before we go any further we have to watch the clips of Jodie and David on The Late Late Show because they just make my heart so happy. Even if you don’t care to watch them (but how couldn’t you?!?), I at least want to put them here so I always have easy access to these videos without searching YouTube.
So here are Jodie and David judging a Doctor Who cosplay contest:
And here they are in their interview with James Cordon, talkin’ about playing the Doctor and the amazing Doctor Who fans:
Ahhhhhhhh, I just love Jodie Whittaker so much. And I just love David Tennant so much, too. I mean C’MON! My heart :).
Anyway, excited squeeing aside, let’s get back to the matter at hand. For Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” then-showrunner Stephen Moffat brought David Tennant back as the Tenth Doctor to stand alongside Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. The original plan for the episode – which explored the Doctor’s actions at the end of the Last Great Time War – was to also see Christopher Eccleston reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor. The episode examined the Doctor at three points in their life, dealing with their grief and trauma in different ways. However Christopher Eccleston wouldn’t return, having left the show on poor terms. He’s since revealed, “My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered….They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.” With Christopher Eccleston understandably out, Moffat brought in John Hurt to play “the War Doctor,” or the face the Doctor doesn’t acknowledge due to the atrocities he committed.
The Doctor (Matt Smith) would explain it in this way to Clara (Jenna Louise Colman) after she’d travelled through his entire timestream. When she saw the War Doctor and didn’t recognize his face, the Doctor tells her, “Look, my name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise.” So, with this little bit of writing, Moffat did his best to navigate around the potential continuity error of having a heretofore unknown Doctor showing up in the middle of the eleven regenerations viewers know.
So the pieces were in place and David Tennant and Matt Smith were off on an adventure of iconic timey-whimey proportions alongside John Hurt. Three Doctors, three places in the Doctor’s timestream, all on one adventure together. While Moffat is my least favorite of the modern era showrunners (for reasons not worth tangentially addressing here), I can’t not be excited to see David Tennant and Matt Smith together! Who could resist it??
Emily Cook harnessed the excitement of an all Doctors team-up as part of her just gargantuan set of Lockdown Who events. She produced this fifteen minute audio drama, “Doctor Who: LOCKDOWN – Doctors Assemble!” which sees the Doctor, trapped inside their TARDIS, reaching out to all their other incarnations to simultaneously help fix the TARDIS and save the Earth. All the voice actors are brilliant and everyone involved did it for free and it’s just so fun.
Okay, I’ve digressed (but worth it). The point is the Doctor teaming up with the Doctor(s) is fun! And seeing Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant together on The Late Late Show only made me yearn to see them together on screen as the Doctor all the more. I know Jody Houser is currently giving us a team-up between Thirteen and Ten in the pages of the Doctor Who comic (something I’m dying to read but still haven’t gotten to yet) but it’s not quite the same thing as seeing them together on screen.
So let’s address the obvious elephant in the room. David Tennant’s final special of Doctor Who where he played the Doctor aired on 1 January 2010. That’s ten years ago. And while the man still seems to bound about with the same manic, youthful energy he brought to the Doctor, it’s hard to explain how the Doctor would look older at a random point during a past regeneration than they did at the moment they regenerated. So the whole crossing-your-own-timeline thing would be a bit harder (though not impossible! the man is so very youthful) to pull off onscreen now than it is in the comics or an audio drama or even in 2013’s “The Day of the Doctor.”
But, BUT the answer is right there! Russell T. Davies, along with all the other brilliance he gave us during his time at the helm of Doctor Who, left the story right there waiting to be picked up. Part of the sweeping finale Davies delivered in “Journey’s End,” David Tennant’s last regular series finale as the Doctor, sees a half-human, half-Time Lord clone of the Doctor regenerate from the left over severed hand that came in the early hours of the Doctor’s Tenth regeneration. Ultimately, as the Doctor must say goodbye to Rose (Billie Piper) again, he tells her she should take the clone (often referred to as the Meta-Crisis Doctor for clarity’s sake) with her, back to her dimension.
Rose – “No but, I spent all that time tryin’ to find you I’m not goin’ back now.”
The Doctor – “But you’ve got to. ‘Cause we saved the universe but at a cost. And the cost is him. He destroyed the Daleks. He committed genocide. He’s too dangerous to be left on his own.”
Meta-Crisis Doctor – “You made me!”
The Doctor – “Exactly, you were born in battle – full of blood and anger and revenge. [looking at Rose] Remind you of someone? That’s me, when we first met. And you made me better. Now you can do the same for him.”
Rose – “But he’s not you.”
The Doctor – “He needs you. That’s very me.”
Donna – “But it’s better than that, though. Don’t you see what he’s tryin’ to give you? Tell her, go on.”
Meta-Crisis Doctor – “I look like him. I think like him. Same memories, same thoughts, same everything. Except I’ve only got one heart.”
Rose – “Which means?”
Meta-Crisis Doctor – “I’m part human, specifically the aging part. I’ll grow old and never regenerate. I’ve only got one life, Rose Tyler. I can spend it with you. If you want.”
Rose – “You’ll…grow old at the same time as me?”
Meta-Crisis Doctor – “Together.
I’m going to stop recounting this scene here because I can’t see/watch/think about the Doctor and Rose saying goodbye without crying and I don’t want to get my keyboard all wet. But the Meta-Crisis Doctor is the Tenth Doctor, except he ages like a normal human being. Part human, part Time Lord, and the perfect way to skirt any potential issues of having a Tenth Doctor who’s now ten years older than he was when he regenerated show up alongside the Thirteenth Doctor. BOOM.
And yes, sure, as they say goodbye the Doctor tells Rose, “We’ve gotta go. This reality is sealing itself off – forever.” But Rose was gone forever once before. This is a show about time travel and aliens and parallel worlds and all that stuff so, with the right mix of clever and creative writing, it would be easy enough to explain why the walls between their universes were open again. Heck, that could even be part of the problem they had to solve.
Think of the narrative potential! Obviously it would be just the most fun ever to see the Thirteenth and the Tenth (sort of) Doctor running off to save two universes side by side. But think of the emotional potential of the story, too. From the timeline within the narrative, the Doctor hasn’t seen Rose in centuries. Now she sees her again, living her (presumably (hopefully!!!)) happy life alongside her version of the Doctor, the one who can grow old like she does and share his life with her. How would that affect the Doctor? And Rose hasn’t see the Doctor proper in years as well. How would she feel to encounter this person whom she loves, wearing yet another new face? How does her Doctor compare with the real Doctor before her once more? In the right hands, this story could be incredible.
After Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the Doctor, Billie Piper was very clear that Rose’s feelings for the Doctor wouldn’t change and that she’d continue loving the Doctor just as she always had (having loved the Doctor in both their Ninth and Tenth regenerations). So what does that do with their interactions? We could see a Rose who has built a life with her Doctor on her world where they’ve been living and growing together. But then she encounters the Doctor again and all those feelings, all that love, would still be there, too. How would she balance this? What does this do to Rose? To the Doctor?
Billie Piper’s also discussed how she struggled with this part of her character’s finale. She felt Rose was, “left with the ‘Sloppy Seconds’ Doctor, who she thought was a poor replacement for the real thing.” However, that doesn’t mean she believes Rose and her Doctor wouldn’t still be together. Piper’s said, “I would like to see a one-off dark comedy about Rose and the Doctor in the parallel universe. But instead of it being really sci-fi, it can have an element of sci-fi but it’s very much about their romantic relationship and what’s happened to them in the time since we’ve left them. Just them cohabiting; their normal environment.” Um, YES PLEASE. I would love that!
So Billie Piper would like to see what Rose’s life with her Doctor is like now. David Tennant has also said he’d be open to returning as the Doctor alongside Jodie Whittaker as well! When asked last year in a video interview about returning to the show again he said,
Who knows? People ask me this…like it’s my decision when I’ll just stroll back on set on Doctor Who and go, ‘Right! Turn over! Here I am!’ – it doesn’t really work like that. I suppose the opportunity has historically been there for Doctors to return to an extent. There would come a point where I wouldn’t be able to get away with it. I wouldn’t be able to fit in the suit, or get my hair to stand up at the end like I used to. There’s a 60th anniversary in a few years, and the question will inevitably come up. But it won’t be for me to decide. [But] it would be fun to do.
So he’d be up for it! And if they used the Meta-Crisis Doctor he wouldn’t even have to worry about getting his hair to stand up on end like it used to :D.
All the pieces are there, just waiting to be assembled. We can have Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor alongside David Tennant’s Doctor PLUS we’d have Billie Piper’s Rose and whatever companions are riding with Thirteen at the time of this dream crossover. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be up for throwing Matt Smith’s Eleven and Peter Capaldi’s Twelve in the story as well. It’s just that if we’re going that route, I’m not sure how they’d pull it all together. But that’s what Chris Chibnall’s for ;). But I mean, it doesn’t have to be either/or, right? We can see Thirteen and Ten on their own adventure and then a BIG reunion of ALL of them for the 60th anniversary, too. Right? I mean, this is my dream Doctor team-up so why wouldn’t I dream big?
Oh, oh, oh! What if we see Rose and the Meta-Crisis Doctor meet the Doctor, Yaz, Graham, and Ryan in a special of their own and then we see all the modern Doctors (save Christopher Eccleston, of course, we’ll respect his feelings) reunite for the 60th anniversary?? And THAT time David Tennant could be playing the Tenth Doctor just as Matt Smith would be Eleven and Peter Capaldi would be Twelve!
I’ll just end on a very dignified plea for Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant’s Doctors to team-up, okay? So, however we get there, can we please just make this happen? Please? PLEASE?? Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE?!!!?!!? Thank you!
I’d like to ask, if you’ve a dream Doctor team-up, who it’d be. BUT I always feel like I’m being extra needy when I do things like that so I won’t ;D. But feel free to share which incarnations of the Doctor you’d like to see on screen together if you want to.
UPDATE: So, a few days after I posted this piece, to celebrate Doctor Who coming exclusively to HBO Max, Terri Schwartz of IGN interviewed Jodie Whittaker and David Tennant and Matt Smith for the very first time all together!!! It was just so much fun, too, so I figured I’d throw it in as a reward for reading all the to the end of the piece :).
 Patrick Mulkern, “Stephen Moffat finally reveals why John Hurt replaced Christopher Eccleston in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special,” Radio Times, Published November 23, 2015. Accessed June 21, 2020. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-11-23/steven-moffat-finally-reveals-why-john-hurt-replaced-christopher-eccleston-in-the-doctor-who-50th-anniversary-special/
 “Christopher Eccleston says he ‘lost faith and trust and belief’ in Doctor Who bosses while filming,” Radio Times, Published March 19, 2018. Accessed June 21, 2020. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-03-19/doctor-who-christopher-eccleston-russell-t-davies/
 Huw Fullerton, “Doctor Who’s Billie Piper thinks Rose would still be in love with the female Doctor,” Radio Times, Published September 5, 2017. Accessed June 21, 2020. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2017-09-05/doctor-whos-billie-piper-thinks-rose-would-still-be-in-love-with-the-female-doctor/
 Huw Fullerton, “Billie Piper admits she ‘hated’ one part of her Doctor Who exit story,” Radio Times, Published August 26, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2020. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2019-08-26/billie-piper-admits-she-hated-one-part-of-her-doctor-who-exit-story/
 Huw Fullerton, “David Tennant says it would be ‘fun’ to return for Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary,” Radio Times, Published August 8, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2020. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2019-08-08/david-tennant-says-it-would-be-fun-to-return-for-doctor-whos-60th-anniversary/