I remember Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special well. Mostly, I remember how many bits with Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Peter Davison, and the rest of the returning Doctor actors just didn’t land for me. I hopped on with Christopher Eccleston! I didn’t know these Doctors! They were just some guys the show expected me to care about!
When Doctor Who’s three 60th anniversary specials air this November (on the BBC and, outside the U.K. and Ireland, on Disney Plus), it will finally be my turn to cry about some actors that young Doctor Who fans have little emotional attachment to, because David Tennant and Catherine Tate will reprising their roles as the Doctor and Donna Noble, respectively. This is brilliant for Tennant-imprinted Whovians like me for multiple reasons, not least the all-timer chemistry that Tate and Tennant possess.
But it’s also about an unanticipated resolution for Donna’s heart-wrenching character arc. She went from a middle-aged temp worker who believed she lacked the capacity to ever amount to anything, to the most important person in the universe by dint of sheer cleverness and gumption, to having her entire journey of the self forcibly erased from her memory so she could be placed back in her go-nowhere old life just because the Doctor was unwilling to watch her die.
And then Doctor Who got a new showrunner, a new Doctor, and a new companion, and nobody really expected the story would return to Donna to free her from her personal hell. Until, that is, this year’s 60th anniversary special.
So, if you’re a Doctor Who fan who came in at a later era, and Donna and the 10th Doctor are just stories to you — relax. All you have to do is wait until the 70th anniversary special in 2033.