The long-running BBC science fiction show, Doctor Who, has long been a British staple that has spanned generations. Last Sunday’s episode saw Jodie Whittaker’s iteration of the Timelord, the Thirteen Doctor, regenerate into the Fourteenth Doctor—but it’s not who you think is.
Much like James Bond and the Royal Family, Doctor Who is quintessentially British. The sci-fi show has been a mainstay of their programming since 1963, and it gained a global audience after its relaunch back in 2005. One of the show’s trademarks is the recasting of the Doctor, which is explained as a process called regeneration (we won’t get into it or else I’ll go into a full nerd rant). Think of it as James Bond getting recast except the recasting is actually part of the plot and not just a “forget the last guy; it’s this guy now”. In total, there have been thirteen official incarnations of the Doctor as well as additional special “versions” of the character.
Starting in 2018, the Doctor’s thirteenth incarnation aka the Thirteenth Doctor was played by English actress Jodie Whittaker, the first woman to step into the TARDIS (the Doctor’s time machine/ship; again, not explaining due to the danger of devolving into a full nerd rant). She announced last year that she would be stepping down from the role, and in May of this year, it was announced that Sex Education’s Ncuti Gatwa would be taking the mantle.
Whittaker/the Thirteenth Doctor’s last episode, titled The Power of the Doctor, aired this Sunday and saw the character once again regenerate into their fourteenth incarnation.
But it wasn’t Gatwa.
So who is playing the Fourteenth Doctor in the new Doctor Who?
“I know these teeth,” says the Fourteenth Doctor, and Whovians (Doctor Who fans) also know that face, because surprise, the Fourteenth Doctor is none other than David Tennant, who also played the Tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010.
Tennant’s return to the show, along with Catherine Tate who played the Tenth Doctor’s companion, Donna Noble, was already announced for the 60th anniversary special episodes. While some assumed Tennant would be reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor and that Gatwa would be the fourteenth, The Power of the Doctor delivered an unexpected twist, which has been confirmed: Tennant is officially playing the Fourteenth Doctor and Gatwa is playing the Fifteenth.
Confused? So are a lot of Whovians, but that’s usually how Doctor Who goes. The 60th anniversary specials, which consist of three episodes, will air in November of next year, much to the dismay of many fans who are waiting anxiously for answers. It will also see the return of showrunner Russel T. Davies, who was also the showrunner during Tennant’s original tenure.