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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

David Tennant is leaving ‘Doctor Who’

It’s official. He made the announcement during the National Television Awards in Britain (you can watch the video of that announcement at the BBC), and then he talked about it some more here.

Tennant will appear in the four specials to air in 2009 — plus, of course, the Christmas special only two months away and already shot — but after that, he’s history.
I honestly cannot say I’m surprised. I would have been surprised, actually, to hear that he was going to stay on after 2009. I would be very surprised to hear that he hasn’t been inundated with offers from Hollywood movie studios and from American TV networks after the enormous splash that Doctor Who has made with him as its star… and of course there can be no doubt that he will have his pick of whatever British projects he wants, at least as long as he can demonstrate that it wasn’t just Doctor Who that made us love him.

And that won’t turn out to be case, of course — he may have made Doctor Who as special as it is in a way that few other actors could have done, but he has such a unique talent for capturing an audience’s sympathy that goes way beyond that. Cripes, he’s putting butts in seats for Hamlet, perhaps the most depressing play ever not written by Pinter. I kinda hope he doesn’t go the Hollywood route, or that if he does, he doesn’t let himself be compromised by it. I’m sure that if he does go Hollywood, however, that he will shortly be a household name in the U.S. the way that he already is in the U.K.

I won’t deny that I’m feeling myself go into a little geek-girl depression right now, though. But I went through the same thing after Tom Baker, and Peter Davison, and Christopher Eccleston… I’m sure I’ll survive. I may not want to survive, but I guess I will anyway.

Oh, and this does settle the question about how much my David Tennant-as-the-Doctor Doctor Who book will cover: it’ll be his whole tenure in the role. Maybe I can actually get it mostly written throughout 2009, and just plug in stuff about those fours specials at the last minute…

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  • jakob1978

    For those outside the UK who want to see him announcing this live on TV, it’s here (this is the full clip of him getting the award, plus a bit of banter with Catherine Tate)


    And there’s a 12 minute interview with him on the Doctor Who section of the BBC website, but again for those outside the UK who can’t see it, here it is in 2 parts

    part 1 –

    part 2 –

  • Mim

    Sad to hear, but like you, I wasn’t surprised. Various little comments and omissions lately (especially in Russell T Davies’ book the Writers Tale) made me think this would be the end. And we’ve still got 2009 to go!

    Here’s to whatever David chooses to do next – I just hope he doesn’t retreat to the theatre altogether – flying 20+ hours from Australia to see his work just isn’t really feasible.

    And you’re writing a book about him as the Doctor? Fantastic! I really enjoy your insights, so that’ll be something else to look forward to, thank you!

  • t6

    I love Pinter.

    Did you ever see that TV version of The Room with Annie Lennox and Linda Hunt? Awesome.

  • Christy

    I won’t say I’m not disappointed, because I am, but it makes sense. This is the perfect time for him to leave in terms of his career and the show. This opens the option for Hamlet’s rumored move to Broadway if he decides to go that route.

    For the show, I do kinda like him leaving with Davies. New showrunner Moffatt will get a new Doctor to play with and take in a new direction. In his episodes, it always seemed he wanted to go a different way with 10 than Davies, and now he can do so without treading on oh-so-sensitive fans’ toes. :)

    I can’t wait to hear more about this book! Thorough research is needed. I foresee many, very long interviews with David in your future.

  • Lisa

    I am a bit sad to hear David is leaving in 2010, but mostly that’s because I would’ve dearly loved to have seen what Steven Moffat as head writer would do with Doctor Who in the next full season.

    In my humble opinion, Moffat’s episodes are better than a great many of Russell T. Davies’efforts, and it saddens me to miss seeing what David would make of the new season with Moffat at the helm.

    On the other hand, David is immensely talented, and I smell several movie roles on the horizon for my favorite Scot. I am really excited for him. I think it’s the right decision and the right time, actually, and I applaud him for taking that plunge to move on to other projects.

    Cheers to David, and I look forward to seeing where his creativity takes him in the years to come.

  • Claire Malia (UK)

    The timing just feels right and some how I don’t feel as disappointed as I thought I would have felt. Looking forward to what he will pull out of the bag next I hope it isn’t a move to Hollywood as most of our excellent actors seemed to have gone in that direction. As a fan of his recent turn on stage (going to see him again tomorrow yippee) I hope does a bit more work in the theatre. Looking forward in anticipation.
    PS Found a book today I thoght you might like its called “Shakespeare in a Nutshell” by James Muirden as you are a Hamlet fan I think you would like this particular version, I found it hilarious.
    Thank you.

  • I basically feel like Lisa. I would loved to have him do one more year to see how it was under the Moffat regime.

    But oh well. He’ll be missed.

  • SoniaDee

    So sad. And yet, I totally understand his decision. He’s a unique talent in my eyes. He really did something special with the Doctor, his will be big shoes to fill. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Actually with the specials coming up, I’m quite content with waiting! He’ll always be my Doctor.

  • Speaking of the specials, someone should start over/under betting on how high the ratings for the last one will be….

  • Bummer. Thanks for breaking the news MaryAnn.

  • Ah, well. All good things, you know.

    As I’ve said previously, whoever replaces Tennant is going to have some rather large red Converse sneakers to fill… and it’s entirely possible that we’ve seen the actual best Doctor that we will ever see.

  • Diane McKeown

    I WAS hoping for one more full season with David, but as Clayj said-all good things…

    (Also having a “geek-girl” depression.)

  • I can’t say I’m surprised by David’s decision either. Even though I’d love to see him continue, I agree that this is probably the best time for him to leave.

    Lately, I’ve read so many articles about him being offered loads of money to continue being the Doctor. If that’s true, his decision to leave is proof to me that he cares more about the acting than he does about the money. That makes me feel good even though it’ll be hard to see number Eleven enter the TARDIS.

  • Sammi

    Oh this is sad. though he has given us some great seasons, its going to be hard to see him leave. He played this role wonderfully and i think he’ll always be my favorite Doctor out of them all. And I have to say to miss out on what Moffat would bring to this show and not have Tennant on there to at least start it out is tragic.

    Its going to be difficult to watch 11 come into a role thats going to be hard to fill after all of these great actors have left but I’m sure the next that takes over with do the best he can, hopefully. And he’ll follow in those footsteps so carefully laid out, but I HOPE that he finds his own footing and does stray as well because if you don’t add your own personality to the Doctor there is no way your going to even remotely make it through a single season!

  • Joanne

    Add me to the sad-but-not-surprised gang. I am sad – I think he’s an amazing Doctor and I’m not ready for Eleven, but maybe by the time Eleven comes along I will be. In the meantime, I’ll savour the specials even more.

    That last episode is going to garner massive audiences. I predict 12 million viewers in the UK, minimum.

  • Delphine

    Hi, I’m French
    I used to read this blog but never leave a comment : but now I’m too sad : I don’t have your “Doctor Who culture” : I discover it 2 years ago with C Eccleston but now I’m an addict. Just want to say that David Tennant is forever my Doctor!
    (just excuse me if my english is not very good)

  • NorthernStar

    I’m not surprised by this. But so very, very saddened.

    Thank you, DT, for four wonderful, amazing years.

  • Katie

    I’m gonna go off in a corner and cry for a bit, then forget about it and just revel in the time we have left. Who ever comes next is going to have a lot on their shoulders.

  • Elise

    I just found out about his leaving Doctor Who and I feel at a loss. But that just means there will be, as you so rightly point out, lots of other opportunities for David Tennant to go out and entertain us. I am trying to rationalize this whole situation… :-). That means only 5 more episodes with Ten.

  • Jim Mann

    It actually surprises me a lot. The latest Doctor Who Magazine quotes Tennant as saying he was staying on for an extra season because he wanted to work with Moffat. So I really thought he was going to stay for one more real season (not just the four specials).


  • i don’t think i have another Doctor in me… i don’t know if i can ever love again.

    that’s it… going out to gather myself a bouquet of rue and willow branches and lay down somewhere.

  • i don’t think i have another Doctor in me… i don’t know if i can ever love again.

    that’s it… going out to gather myself a bouquet of rue and willow branches and lay down somewhere.

  • I was sad when Ecclestone left, and much more when Billie Piper left us too.
    NOW I´m really, really sad.
    I think I’ll treasure the remaining episodes of the fourth season and look forward for the five specials, in which I´ve heard Mr Patrick Stewart will be a guest star.

  • blake

    I’m looking forward to see who The Doctor will be.
    I hope Moffat picks someone really cool, could be time for a chick… A uber cool Time Lady, like Joanna Lumley.

  • Poly in London

    MaryAnn wrote: “but he has such a unique talent for capturing an audience’s sympathy that goes way beyond that.”

    Sarah Crompton, art editor for the Telegraph wrote recently at the paper’s website, that David Tennant has a uniquely warm relationship with the audience, rare among stars:

    Which I think is very perceptive and brings stardom back to its essence (away from the notion of celebrity).

    And only a couple of days ago, I saw what I think is DT’s best performance (in the tv film Einstein and Eddington). It was hugely exciting to be surprised like that, to see an actor I love (and know well) taking a completely new approach in his performance. So his future is definitely bright.

    But I will miss the Tenth Doctor. But it hasn’t sunk in yet so I am in denial. Five stories to go, we are not there yet.

  • PaulW

    (tosses Tennant into the grave pit) Alright, that’s done with that. Who’s next? Clive Owen, anyone? Stephen Fry? Natalie Portman and that hideous accent of hers? Hugo Weaving as the Doctor, now THAT would be a mind-blower…

  • Barb

    I’m sorry to see DT leave (would loved to have seen him in Moffet’s first series) but at least this will give him a chance to do more things. With the 9mo shooting schedule, there really wasn’t much he could do.

    As for the next Who, I pity the person following his footsteps because they will be extremely large footsteps to fill. Maybe Richard Coyle?

  • He probably has several offers he couldn’t refuse. I’d love to see him bring Hamlet to Broadway once I’m gainfully employed and could afford to go!

  • the rook

    stop getting all mopey. it’s now time to speculate on who can pick up the mantle of the doctor.

    simon pegg? how about geoffrey rush? i bet he’d make an interesting doctor.

  • shut up, rook — i’m planning on moping for a year. at least.

    no to simon pegg. no to geoffrey rush (though i love both of them). maybe to clive owen… i’m pushing for richard armitage.

    but it doesn’t matter. there’ll never be anther Doctor for me. (i *mean it* this time. not like the time between 4 and 5, or between 7 and 10!).

  • Anne-Kari

    My “First Doctor” – indeed, my daughter’s first – was Eccleston, and I was devastated when I heard he was leaving.

    I was so very wary when they announced Tennant as the replacement — and so very thrillingly pleased and surprised at the result.

    So I wait to see who will be our new Doctor, with a big dose of faith in both the BBC PTB and the allure the series has to the extraordinary pool of potential actors.

  • Magess

    I was really critical when Tennant took over, and am so in geek love that I’m not sure I -want- to see who’ll be next.

    I had been hoping that River Song wasn’t just going to be what I guess she now is, potential unfulfilled.

    Of course I’ll watch. I loved every episode Moffat wrote. This may be the first time I’ll watch a show for the writer rather than for an actor.

  • Gaynell

    This makes me hope even more that the RSC would release the Shakespeare plays on DVD since there will probably be less chances to see him every year.
    I was also hoping to see what he would do in a full season with Moffat in charge.

  • Gee

    I don’t think the RSC will do any DVDs for Hamlet or LLL. I asked a few people there and they didn’t know of any plans. Perhaps if enough people enquire, they’ll re-consider?

    Tennant is going to be filming a Stephen Poliakoff film – “1939” – in between Hamlet/LLL at Stratford and Hamlet in London.


    I’ll miss Tennant as the Doctor but we still have the specials to look forwards to. I’m thankful to get a year to get used to the idea of him leaving!

    I quite like the idea of David Mitchell (‘Peep Show’) for number eleven but he *is* an outsider. I don’t know if he’s got enough dramatic range though.

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