Tenth Doctor

The Doctor
The Tenth Doctor
Doctor Who character
First appearance "The Parting of the Ways"
Last appearance The End of Time (regular)
"The Day of the Doctor" (guest)
Portrayed by David Tennant
Tenure 18 June 20051 January 2010[1][2]
No. of series 3 + Specials (2008–2010)
Appearances 36 stories (47 episodes)
Companions Rose Tyler
Mickey Smith
Donna Noble
Martha Jones
Jack Harkness
Astrid Peth[3][4][5]
Sarah Jane Smith[6]
Jackson Lake[7]
Rosita Farisi[8][9]
Christina de Souza[10]
Adelaide Brooke[11][12]
Wilfred Mott[13]
Preceded by Christopher Eccleston (Ninth Doctor)
Succeeded by Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor)
Series Series 2 (2006)
Series 3 (2007)
Series 4 (2008)
Specials (2008–2010)[14]

The Tenth Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor, the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television programme Doctor Who, who is played by David Tennant in three series as well as nine specials. As with previous incarnations of the Doctor, the character has also appeared in other Doctor Who spin-offs. In the programme's narrative, the Doctor is a centuries-old Time Lord alien from the planet Gallifrey who travels in time in his TARDIS, frequently with companions. When the Doctor is critically injured beyond medical repair, he can regenerate his body; in doing so, his physical appearance and personality change, and a new actor assumes the role. Tennant's portrayal of the Doctor is of an outwardly charismatic and charming adventurer whose likable and easygoing attitude can quickly turn to righteous fury when provoked.

This incarnation's companions include working class shop assistant Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), medical student Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), and fiery temp worker Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). He eventually parts ways with them all by the end of the 2008 series finale, "Journey's End", after which he attempts to travel alone for the duration of the 2008–2010 specials before being accompanied by Donna Noble's grandfather Wilfred Mott on his final adventure in The End of Time.

In November 2013, Tennant's Doctor was voted "The UK's favourite Doctor" in a survey held by the Radio Times magazine.


Executive producer Russell T Davies revived Doctor Who after a 16-year absence with the premiere of "Rose" in 2005. Following the BBC's announcement of a second series being commissioned, the story broke that Christopher Eccleston, who played the titular Ninth Doctor, would not be returning for the second series. On 16 April 2005, the BBC announced that David Tennant had been selected for the role of the Tenth Doctor.[15] His first appearance in the series was for 20 seconds following the Ninth Doctor's regeneration at the end of "The Parting of the Ways". His first full episode as the Doctor, barring an appearance in a "mini-episode" during the 2005 Children in Need show, was the 2005 Christmas Special, "The Christmas Invasion". He then appeared in the 2006 series, the second Christmas Special, "The Runaway Bride", the 2007 series, the third Christmas Special, "Voyage of the Damned", and the 2008 series. Rather than a traditional series run, 2009 features a series of five specials and a series of animated shorts, all starring Tennant as the Tenth Doctor; he also guest-starred in the two-part The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith of The Sarah Jane Adventures in that year. Tennant also appears in two animated serials; The Infinite Quest is counted with the third series, and Dreamland is counted amongst the 2008–2010 specials. In 2013, Tennant reprised his role as the Doctor for the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", where it is revealed that due to an uncounted past incarnation, War Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is in fact the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor. The next episode, "The Time of the Doctor," further explains that because the Tenth Doctor underwent an aborted regeneration in "Journey's End," the Eleventh Doctor (his twelfth incarnation) was in fact on his thirteenth and final life.


The Tenth Doctor speaks with an Estuary English accent, rather than the Greater Manchester accent (Christopher Eccleston's own accent) that the Ninth Doctor used, the Received Pronunciation of most earlier Doctors, or Tennant's natural Scottish English. David Tennant told SFX magazine in 2006 that Russell T Davies had asked him to drop his natural Scottish accent, because he felt "we'd like to not go for another obvious regional accent, because I suppose they'd done that".[16] In a 23 December interview on BBC Radio 1, Tennant explained that a line had been scripted for the Christmas special explaining that the newly regenerated Doctor had imprinted on Rose Tyler's accent, "like a chick hatching from an egg", but the line was cut from the final episode.

The depictions of the personalities of the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors shared certain similarities[17][18] e.g. both being youthful, energetic, friendly, childlike, "good boyfriend Doctors", as Steven Moffat described them[19] and, according to Mark Gatiss "very human Doctors" when compared to other incarnations.[20][21]


The Doctor complains that his tenth incarnation is not "ginger". However, this incarnation was happy to have sideburns and to have more hair than his previous incarnation. He wears his own brown hair in various ways throughout the series: unstyled in "The Christmas Invasion", a 1950s-style quiff in "The Idiot's Lantern", and flattened forwards in "The Runaway Bride" and "The Day of the Doctor", but mainly styled it in a spiked up fashion throughout most of the series, with this style being described by friend and later one-time companion Wilfred Mott as being a, "Modern style sort of hair. All sticky-uppy". He has dark brown eyes and is perceived by most, including companions and other characters such as his future incarnation as "slim and a little bit foxy".[22]

His costume was unveiled on July 27, 2005.[23] He generally wears either a dark brown (with blue pinstripes) or a blue (with rust red pinstripes) four-buttoned suit, a shirt and a tie, a light brown faux-suede overcoat (which he claims was given to him by Janis Joplin), and different coloured pairs of Converse All-Star sneakers, depending on his suit. According to an interview on Parkinson, David Tennant and Russell T Davies got the idea for the Tenth Doctor's costume from an outfit Jamie Oliver had worn on Parkinson just after Tennant had taken the role.[24] David Tennant has commented that he would vary the combination of the buttons he fastened on his jacket in different episodes. Tennant thought the look was very geek chic.[23][25]

The Doctor dons a pair of dark tortoise-shell rectangular frame glasses, an affectation (along with his signature footwear) borrowed from the Fifth Doctor. He also occasionally sports a pair of Red-Cyan 3D glasses, both as a joke and for practical reasons. The Tenth Doctor's costume became so popular that it has spawned numerous recreations (including a BBC-licensed replica of the Tenth Doctor's overcoat by AbbyShot Clothiers[26] and a white/red version worn by Tennant when he co-hosted Comic Relief), and has been cited by costume designer Louise Page as the costume she is most proud of from her time on Doctor Who.[27]



The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) regenerates into the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) at the climax of the 2005 series finale, "The Parting of the Ways"; he re-introduces himself to his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) in an untitled Children in Need mini-episode. In the Christmas special, he is in a comatose state for most of the episode, following his regeneration. After eventually waking up, he defeats the alien Sycorax and saves Earth; in the process, he loses a hand, which regrows owing to his recent regeneration. Amongst other 2006 series adventures, the Doctor and Rose save Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins) from a werewolf, resulting in the creation of the anti-alien Torchwood Institute. The Doctor shares an adventure with two former companions, journalist Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and robot dog K-9 (John Leeson), before taking on Rose's boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) as a second companion. The TARDIS slips through a crack in the Time Vortex causing them to be stranded on a parallel Earth, where they encounter the Cybermen. After saving parallel Earth, Mickey decides to stay and help stop the Cybermen around the world despite the Doctor telling him he can never return. He and Rose become stranded on a planet orbiting around a black hole where The Beast is waiting, with a Torchwood team. While there The Beast taunts the Doctor and Rose about Rose's death. During the 2012 Olympic Games, the Doctor picks up the Olympic flame and carries it to the end, starting the Games. The series finale takes place in contemporary London, where modern-day Torchwood is the scene for war between the evil alien Daleks and parallel-universe cyborgs the Cybermen; saving the Earth costs the Doctor Rose, who is stranded in a parallel universe, along with Mickey and her mother, in "Doomsday".

In the closing scene of "Doomsday", a mysterious bride (Catherine Tate) inexplicably appears in his TARDIS. The 2006 Christmas special sees the Doctor and bride-to-be Donna Noble save the Earth; Donna saves the Doctor from going too far in his revenge against the alien Racnoss and declines his offer of companionship. In the 2007 series, the Doctor takes on Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) as his new companion. Together, they witness the mysterious Face of Boe (Struan Rodger) prophesy to the Doctor that "you are not alone." They are rejoined by former companion Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) in a three-episode adventure where presumed-deceased archenemy and fellow Time Lord the Master (John Simm) becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and enslaves the Doctor for one year. Martha's plan sees the Doctor infused with the world's psychic energies, and he easily defeats the Master, who seemingly refuses to regenerate and dies in the Doctor's arms. Following this adventure, in the dénouement of series finale "Last of the Time Lords", Jack and Martha both depart the TARDIS, and the Doctor is shocked to see what appears to be the RMS Titanic crash into it. Set moments prior, another Children in Need mini-episode, "Time Crash", features a brief encounter between Tennant's Tenth Doctor and the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), containing meta-humour surrounding the fact David Tennant had watched and loved Davison's doctor as a child. In parallel with the third series, Tennant lends his voice to the animated serial The Infinite Quest.

The 2007 Christmas special sees the Doctor and a waitress, Astrid (Kylie Minogue), save the Earth from the impending crash of the starship Titanic; Astrid dies heroically, and the Doctor encounters Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) for the first time. In the 2008 series première episode, the Doctor is reunited with Donna Noble, Mott's granddaughter, who becomes his regular companion. In "Planet of the Ood", the alien Ood prophesy the Tenth Doctor's demise. Martha accompanies them for three episodes; in two, the Doctor battles the alien Sontarans, and last of which sees him become a father of sorts to Jenny (Georgia Moffett), in "The Doctor's Daughter". He meets archaeologist and future companion River Song (Alex Kingston) for the first time from his perspective in the two-parter "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead"; she dies, but he stores her consciousness to a hard drive to live on forever, after accepting that one day she will come to mean a lot to him. After Donna encounters Rose in a parallel world in "Turn Left", the Doctor realises that Rose's words to Donna — "Bad Wolf" — must herald the end of the world. In finale episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" (which cross over with spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures), the Doctor and Donna reunite with former companions Rose, Sarah Jane, Martha, Jack, and Mickey to save the universe from Davros (Julian Bleach), the creator of the Daleks. A half-human Doctor is created from the Doctor's previously severed hand, and Donna is given the mind of a Time Lord; the Human Doctor enjoys a happy ending with Rose in the parallel universe, though the Doctor is forced to erase Donna's memories to save her life, leaving him alone. A Doctor Who Prom mini-episode, "Music of the Spheres", features a lone Doctor composing his musical Ode to the Universe before being interrupted by the small alien Graske (Jimmy Vee).

In lieu of a 2009 series, Tennant appears as the Tenth Doctor, without a regular companion, in several special episodes over the course of 2008 and 2009, the last of which aired on New Year's Day, 2010. In the Christmas special "The Next Doctor", the Doctor mistakenly believes he has met a later incarnation of himself in an amnesiac Londoner (David Morrissey), with whom he saves Victorian-era London. "Planet of the Dead" (Easter 2009) features jewel thief Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) as the Doctor's one-off companion, and the Doctor is presented with a prophecy of his imminent death. Tennant makes a crossover appearance in a The Sarah Jane Adventures two-parter, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, in which a powerful being known as the Trickster (Paul Marc Davis) also alludes to the Tenth Doctor's impending demise. In "The Waters of Mars", the Doctor tries to alter history and avert the death of one-off companion Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan); when she commits suicide, he begins to feel his mortality weigh down upon him. In the animated serial Dreamland, the Doctor is joined by two one-off companions in 1950s Roswell, New Mexico. In the two-part send-off The End of Time, the Doctor confronts the Ood about their original prophecy and is led to contemporary Earth where, in the second part, the again-resurrected Master (Simm) restores Gallifrey and the Time Lords to existence, although he redeems himself by assisting the Doctor to defeat Time Lord President Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) before disappearing alongside the other Time Lords. The Doctor sacrifices his life to save Mott, exposing himself to 500,000 rads of deadly radiation and triggering his regeneration. He holds it back and is shown visiting several companions.[a] He gives Donna a winning lottery ticket on her wedding day, buying it with money he borrowed from her late father in the past, saves Martha and Mickey from a Sontaran sniper, saves Sarah Jane's son Luke (Tommy Knight) from a car, introduces Jack to a romantic interest (Russell Tovey), and finally, just before regenerating into the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), he informs Rose in 2005 that she is about to have a "great year". As he begins regenerating once in the TARDIS, his last words are "I don't want to go".

Tennant reprised the role for the show's 50th anniversary in "The Day of the Doctor" (2013), appearing alongside the Eleventh Doctor (Smith) and a forgotten past incarnation, the War Doctor, played by John Hurt. In the special, in which we view scenes from the Tenth Doctor's time taking place between "The Waters of Mars" and The End of Time, the Doctor unintentionally marries Queen Elizabeth I (Joanna Page) while luring out a Zygon. He helps the other Doctors in saving Gallifrey at the Time War's conclusion, but will not retain memories of the event. His final words are, once again "I don't want to go" after being told that he will die on Trenzalore.


David Tennant has also made numerous cameo appearances as the Doctor outside of Doctor Who, frequently in spoof appearances. Singer and actress Charlotte Church spoofs Doctor Who alongside an actor playing the Tenth Doctor in her own The Charlotte Church Show (2006). In an appearance on The Friday Night Project in 2007, Tennant plays a female companion to the Tenth Doctor (Justin Lee Collins) on the Pink Planet, where they are confronted by the alien Gay Lord (Alan Carr). When the show became The Sunday Night Project, Catherine Tate appeared in a skit playing the Tenth Doctor. Tennant starred opposite Catherine Tate in her own The Catherine Tate Show special (2007) as Lauren Cooper's (Tate) teacher Mr. Logan, who Cooper teases for his resemblance to the Doctor; eventually, he reveals himself to be the Tenth Doctor and shrinks Cooper into a 5" Rose Tyler action figure. In the final episode of Extras (December 2007), a brief scene shows the Doctor and an unidentified Wren companion attacked by Schlong, a slug-like alien played by Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais). The Tenth Doctor is also featured in political satire; in a 2007 episode of Dead Ringers, when faced by the question of Gordon Brown's succession, Tony Blair (impressionist Jon Culshaw) regenerates into David Tennant after promising "New Labour is all about renewal", later vowing 100 more years of power. Tennant modifies his first line in "The Parting of the Ways" ("New teeth, that's weird"), to "New Labour, that's weird" and proceeds to address the public in a Tony Blair impression resembling Culshaw's. Tennant also guest voiced his incarnation of the Doctor in an episode of Family Guy.


As the face of the Doctor Who franchise for 2005–10, the Tenth Doctor appears extensively in Doctor Who spin-off media; in the majority of these series, the character simply takes after the place of the Ninth Doctor, and in turn is replaced by the Eleventh following the debut of the 2010 series. Novels featuring the Tenth Doctor are all published by BBC Books. The character appears in New Series Adventures novels spanning from The Stone Rose (April 2006) to The Krillitane Storm (September 2009). A number Decide Your Destiny novels were published between July 2007 and March 2008, as well as five books published as a part of Quick Reads Initiative, a government-sponsored adult literacy project. BBC Children's Books released their own 10-part series, The Darksmith Legacy, supported by an interactive tie-in website. Additionally, short stories are frequently published in Doctor Who Magazine, The Doctor Who Storybook series (2007–10 editions), the BBC website, and annuals and suchlike; one example being the story "The Lodger" by Gareth Roberts, later adapted into an Eleventh Doctor television episode of the same name. National newspapers The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Times have each published one Christmas-themed Tenth Doctor short story. Additionally, the Tenth Doctor appears in a novelisation of his The Sarah Jane Adventures crossover appearance. The Tenth Doctor also appears extensively in comic books, replacing the Ninth Doctor in those published in Doctor Who Magazine, and the younger-audience Doctor Who Adventures and Doctor Who: Battles in Time. American comic book publisher initially published a 2008 Tenth Doctor and Martha Jones miniseries between January and June 2006. This was later followed by a truly ongoing Tenth Doctor series in July 2009, set during the 2008–2010 specials and lasting sixteen issues before relaunching with the Eleventh Doctor. In stories set after "Journey's End", the Doctor is accompanied by numerous one-off and recurring companions who do not feature in the television series.

Outside of Doctor Who literature, penciller Georges Jeanty includes a cameo of the Tenth Doctor and Rose in a panel of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight story arc "No Future for You". The Tenth Doctor was utilised in the American satirical political cartoon strip, This Modern World. Arriving in 2003, the Doctor hints to Sparky the Wonder Penguin (the strip's main character) that in five years' time, the next President could be a black man, with the middle name Hussein, whose father was a Muslim, referring to the popularity of Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential election.[28] The character also appeared in a story arc of the webcomic PvP, in which character Brent Sienna hallucinates materialising in the TARDIS.[29]

Audio drama

As is the case with the BBC Books novels, the Tenth Doctor replaced the Ninth as the face of the Doctor Who audiobook series, beginning with Pest Control in May 2008 and ending with Dead Air in March 2010. The majority are read by David Tennant, save one read by Michelle Ryan and two by Catherine Tate. A number of Tenth Doctor novels were also abridged to become audiobooks, again featuring David Tennant's voice alongside other cast members such as Freema Agyeman and television series guest stars such as Georgia Moffett, Reggie Yates and Anthony Head; the last of these scheduled is Judgement of the Judoon, for December 2010.

On 26 October 2015, it was announced Tennant would reprise his role for full-cast audio stories produced by Big Finish Productions, alongside Tate as Donna Noble. The first volume of stories, consisting of Technophobia, Time Reaver, and Death and the Queen, were released in May 2016.[30]


The Tenth Doctor has been extremely popular amongst the Doctor Who fandom, has received critical acclaim for his complexity and humanity, and is considered one of the greatest incarnations of the character, if not the best by many,[31][32][33] so much so, that the BBC considered ending the show in 2010 as they thought the show would fail without Tennant.[34] In 2006, readers of Doctor Who Magazine voted Tennant's Doctor "Best Doctor" over perennial favourite Tom Baker.[35] He also won the National Television Awards award for Most Popular Actor in 2006 and 2007, and the award for Outstanding Drama Performance in 2008 and 2010. In a poll conducted by Radio Times in March 2007, Tennant's Doctor was named the "coolest character on television".[36][37] IGN ranked the Tenth Doctor the best Doctor in 2011.[38] In 2013, IGN again ranked Tennant as the best Doctor,[39] along with the Daily Mail[40] and Radio Times, with Billie Piper also being voted as best companion.[41] Users of Plusnet also voted David Tennant as the best Doctor in 2013.[42] Users of DoctorWhoTV also voted Tennant as 'Ultimate Doctor' in 2013.[43] Voters on Digital Spy also rated Tennant as the greatest Doctor in 2013 with 50.05% of the votes,[32] and again in 2015.[44] A poll in November 2013 revealed that Tennant was considered the greatest Doctor with 33% of the vote, a clear 10% lead over 2nd place, Tom Baker.[45] Readers of The Telegraph voted Tennant as the greatest actor to play the Doctor in 2014.[46]

Jenna Coleman, who played Clara Oswald and appeared with Tennant in "The Day of the Doctor", said that he was her favourite Doctor, along with Tom Baker.[47] Writer Terry Pratchett considered Tennant's portrayal to be the greatest Doctor.[48]

In 2016, Digital Spy readers voted the Tenth Doctor the best TV character of the 21st century.[49]


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  1. ^ A serial of The Sarah Jane Adventures starring the Eleventh Doctor called Death of the Doctor clarifies that the Doctor, in fact, made visits to every former companion.

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