DOCTOR WHO - An appreciation of DAVID TENNANT - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO - An appreciation of DAVID TENNANT

Christopher Morley looks at the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, and his time as key-holder of the Type 40. Allons-y!

As Doctor Who began a difficult shift following the departure of the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), the search was on for the Tenth. What most viewers probably didn't recognise was that one of their own would be the next man to take command of the TARDIS - David Tennant having done his time as a lifelong fan & now getting the chance to take on the mantle all of geek-kind would gladly sell their granny to get within touching distance of.

It was Davey-boy who seized it, though. First appearing in the dying moments of The Parting Of The Ways (in retrospect, the jacket he wears post-change, while indeed part of his former self's clothing actually makes him resemble a Gallifreyan equivalent to Barty Crouch Junior, the Death Eater Tennant had played in the film adaptation of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire), his first full outing as the Doctor came in the 2005 festive special The Christmas Invasion - saving Earth from the Sycorax in his jim-jams.

And that combination - the friendly/outwardly funny battling for position alongside a fiercely protective streak - is probably what defines Ten. It's there consistently throughout everything from the aforementioned Christmastime adventure to The End Of Time, and probably what most will remember of his tenure in years to come.

Classic Who fans may be tempted to use the man the Tenth was five incarnations ago as a handy point of comparison. The man in the cricketing outfit balanced compassion with a willingness to use force where necessary - remember him pointing a gun at Davros's head in Resurrection Of The Daleks?

Coincidentally they'd later meet in Time Crash before the younger self became father in law to his senior (see The Doctor's Daughter for the first glimpse of a spot of wibbly-wobbly romancey-wancey - the Doctor, or at least the man playing him, going on to wed the woman in the role of his daughter, whose father also happens to have played the Doctor!). 

Perhaps the ultimate brainteaser from a series with 50 years & counting's worth of the bleeders! In a unique case of art imitating life, we were also of course introduced to Professor River Song in the later double-header of Forest Of The Dead/Silence In The Library.

She's a lady who'll be important enough to him in the future that he'll reveal his true name to her - & true enough, as if to emphasise the often non-linear nature of time travel we'll later see the true beginnings of their relationship in an arc which begins chronologically with the Eleventh Doctor in Let's Kill Hitler & ends with her death in the Library - a life lived in reverse from the Doctor's perspective.

But there was a lot to be done before regenerating & having the Fuhrer of the Third Reich stuffed in a cupboard in Berlin. New foes abounded - the Ood perhaps the best recurring example, with the Beast easily winning any 'most terrifying' contest (handily you can see both in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit). Any similarity to the Sensorites is purely cosmetic of course! And there's also the small matter of a maiden outing for the Weeping Angels (Blink).

Just to even the score there were a few returns from 'oldies but goodies' too - the Master (Utopia/The Sound Of Drums/Last Of The Time Lords/The End Of Time) & the heavily devolved Macra, the specimens hiding under the motorways of New New York (Gridlock) no match for their considerably more intelligent forefathers from The Macra Terror.

He might've grown too old for the odd tootle on a recorder, but he could have been forgiven for a shiver of recognition upon getting reacquainted with the Daleks in, well, Manhattan (Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution Of The Daleks). They're planning something rather big during the construction phase of the totemic Empire State Building, but there's a certain sense of deja vu - especially for those lucky enough to have witnessed The Evil Of The Daleks.

Old Tenny also managed to win perhaps his greatest victory yet in the process...knocking his Fourth incarnation off the top of 'favourite Doctor' fan polls (heresy). Of course he'd depart before having the chance to meet him or at least a chap who looked rather like him after freezing their home planet - that honour going to the man who emerged following an explosive delayed regenerative process.

The Pink Paper loved him too! By 2006 he'd been voted their 'Sexiest Man In The Universe'. But while fangirls worldwide were quick to gush about how cute & stuff he was, he was more interested in the altogether more important business of saving everybody.

Well, not quite everybody on the evidence of The Fires Of Pompeii, though he did manage to save at least four people from flaming death at the hands of Mount Vesuvius. One of them would later come to look strangely familiar, but he had no time to ponder that as he defeated the Pyrovile race with a water pistol.

Rumour has it that we will, though, get some kind of explanation as to why the Twelfth Doctor appears to be the spitting image of Caecilius - the man who would come to take Ten on as a sort of household god. A big step on the road towards that came in The End Of Time, a titanic battle between the suited & booted Jamie Oliver lookalike (all intentional, Russell T Davies probably a fan of cookery shows on the sly) & the massed ranks of the rejuvenated Time Lords, including the Master, who finally gets to the bottom of that drumming noise that's been driving him a little crazy.

And there's Rassilon & his Gauntlet (or is it merely a giant metal glove?) too. It could be said that here began the quest to locate Gallifrey once more - sending his own people back into the hell of the Time War, including the apparently willingly sacrificed Master.

If you believe the gossips, upon his return he'll in fact be Lord President if/once Twelve encounters him again so maybe there was a sort of method to his madness. Throw in the fact that Ten himself is thrust back into the War alongside his future self & the past one who'd seen active service in the conflict he'd forgotten up to that point (The Day Of The Doctor) and some big threads start to tie themselves nicely.

Oh, how could we forget his marriage to Queen Elizabeth I? First alluded to in The Shakespeare Code, when she's not too happy to see him turn up at the Globe Theatre - well, he did kind of run off after the wedding, which we see in Day after a spot of confusion with a Zygon- it's promptly used as a verbal stick to beat him with by a future Queen, Liz Ten, in The Beast Below & then again by the Dream Lord (Amy's Choice) following his regeneration.

Speaking of which, Ten was also rather guilty of using up one of these precious changes of appearance for reasons of pure vanity, diverting the energy from the process into his own severed hand. Which led to the birth of the Meta-Crisis Doctor, the result of biological interaction between a human & a Time Lord. All very complicated. But presumably somewhere in the universe he could still be out there, having the romance with Rose Tyler the 'true' Doctor just couldn't allow himself.

Just reward for seemingly causing the 'final end' of the Daleks & indeed Davros (The Stolen Earth/ Journey's End) as prophesied by Caan, the giggliest of all the sons of Skaro born from their creator's own cells - the purest of the pure, you might say. Why did he have so many such laughing fits? Travelling back into the Time War to save the renegade Kaled who'd started his journey to planned mass conquest in Genesis Of The Daleks sent him a bit loopy.

But in the process he'd seen the true evil of his own species & led them a merry dance, the Doctor & Donna Noble arriving bang on time to ensure destruction came as he'd already envisioned. Lovely stuff. Of course we now know that at least one ship, carrying a Progenitor device, survived...

But to many, the Tenth was 'their Doctor', the man who helped lay the foundations for what Doctor Who is - a worldwide phenomenon, Ten leading the march from cult concern to 'in' crowd favourite. Would he be pleased? Oh yes.

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