Is Tennant's Doctor Who Return Just a Cheap Trick to Get Fans Excited?

Is Tennant's Doctor Who Return Just a Cheap Trick to Get Fans Excited?
Image credit: Legion-Media

A trailer for the 2023 Doctor Who specials suggests that David Tennant has returned as the same Doctor he played before.

In October last year, Doctor Who fans were pleasantly surprised by the return of David Tennant as the new Doctor's incarnation.

Many fans knew that Tennant would be returning for the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who – how could he not!? – but the majority thought that the beloved Tenth Doctor would come back for a brief cameo just like he did in the 50th anniversary special. That's why Jodie Whittaker regenerating into Tennant has become a shocking and exciting development for many fans.

More than that, Tennant was officially announced to be the Fourteenth Doctor making Ncuti Gatwa the fifteenth incarnation. But is Tennant's Doctor really a new regeneration?

One actor playing two incarnations is the first for Doctor Who. So the rules of such a move are unclear. It has been established though that each new regeneration brings a new personality.

Given that fact and the totally new outfit of the Fourteenth Doctor, fans wondered if Tennant will portray a character not seen before and different from his earlier version. However, a recently-released trailer for the specials suggests Tennant will play exactly the same Doctor he portrayed before.

The trailer shows the 60th anniversary special will bring back fan-favorite companion Donna Noble and feature her reunion with Tennant's Doctor. Besides, Ncuti Gatwa's Doctor briefly appears in the trailer suggesting that Tennant's version is not only short-lived but might be an illusion of sorts. In any case, the trailer contains proof that the Fourteenth Doctor is in fact the same person as the Tenth Doctor.

In one scene, Tennant is exclaiming "Allons-y!" as he jumps into a taxi. This French phrase meaning "Let's go!" was a famous Tenth Doctor's catchphrase, his unique saying not used by any other Doctor. It was a phrase Tennant's Doctor used while hiding Gallifrey in a pocket universe along with twelve other Doctors in the 50th-anniversary special.

Russell T Davies is clearly determined to include the phrase in every anniversary special he is going to write (hopefully, as many as possible). But in this particular case, one short phrase raises many long questions. Who is this Doctor? Is he really the Fourteenth? If so, why does he behave and speak exactly as the tenth incarnation?

So far, it looks like for the Doctor, a face and a personality come as a package deal.