How David Tennant Became My Doctor

A narrative. A very fangirl-esque narrative.

David Tennant as the tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, my favorite companionI came to Doctor Who a few years late. I think the 4th series was airing, and I’d actually seen Torchwood first because I heard James Marsters was in it. I’d never gotten into the idea of “Doctor Who” but after liking Torchwood, I decided to give it a shot.

They say you never forget your first Doctor. And from the moment he showed up in a basement full of living mannequins, Christopher Eccleston was my Doctor. I loved his grin, his charm, and his enthusiasm for things. He was also a dark Doctor, haunted and scarred by his past. I wasn’t keen on Rose, but I loved him so much that I didn’t care. That first series was wonderful — “Father’s Day,” “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, “Bad Wolf”/”The Parting of the Ways.” Genius.

And then it was over. I looked at David Tennant, looked back at Eccleston, and decided that I just didn’t think this was going to work out. I even gave him a shot, watching the first part of “New Earth,” before I shut it off. Pity I didn’t keep going, actually, because that was a pretty good ep.

After a year or so, I was ready to give Tennant another chance. He wasn’t the Doctor any more, things felt more…finite. I also knew he had two non-Rose companions in the 3rd & 4th series. And all his series’ were out on DVD & available at my local library. So with some misgivings, I checked out Series 2.

Series 2

The first three eps were fine, I wasn’t grabbed, but I liked him enough to keep watching. Then came a trifecta, “The Girl in the Fireplace,” which was hauntingly beautiful (I could write another post about the genius of Stephen Moffat compared to RTD) and showcased Tennant’s talents for humor and pathos, followed by “Rise of the Cybermen”/”The Age of Steel.” The Cybermen episodes did something I never expected—they opened a place in my heart for Rose.

Rose was more loveable in that pair of episodes, more relatable, than I’d ever seen her before. And whether the Doctor and Rose had had that connection in previous episodes and it just became apparent here or whether something about this episode really turned that around, this is when I began to feel ok with the idea of their having a deeper connection. And the end of Series 2 actually broke my heart, which I wasn’t expecting. After so many years, I’d been completely spoiled on it.

Series 3

From having seen all of Torchwood, I was on board with Martha-as-companion. And she worked. I wasn’t blown away by the first 7 episodes. They were fun, but not special. At this point, I liked Tennant but he wasn’t yet my Doctor. I could appreciate him, but I still loved Eccleston. He was my first.

I decided to work on cleaning up my crafting supplies while watching the 8th & 9th episodes of Series 3—”Human Nature” and “Family of Blood.” Instead, I spent all my time on the floor gawking at the screen. That’s the afternoon when Tennant began edging out Eccleston in my heart. As a human, he was tragically beautiful. And as the Doctor, he was every bit as dark and tormented as the Doctor I loved. Then came “Blink,” which didn’t have too much Tennant but was thoroughly genius, and then the trio of series-finale episodes. Seeing the Doctor go up against the Master made me care about him in a way I didn’t want to admit.

Series 4

After the third series, I’d probably still have told you that Eccleston was my Doctor. And I was afraid I’d love Tennant less with Donna at his side. We’d seen them together before and I couldn’t imagine liking her. Again, I was wrong. I think the 4th series has more of my favorite 10th Doctor episodes than the other two combined, and Donna became my favorite companion by far (and her granddad made a great co-companion). Perhaps it was because we saw her grow so much, or the changes she made to the Doctor, I’m not sure. I cried at the end of the last episode.

And I cried again, a few nights ago, when we finally got around to watching the specials and said goodbye to Tennant. “The End of Time” was a masterful piece and Wilfred a wonderful substitute-companion. And I cried again. I cried because the Doctor didn’t want to die and because even though I really hope to love Matt Smith soon, I realized how incredibly sad I was that he was going to be gone.

That’s when I knew that Tennant had become my Doctor. I’ll always love Eccleston’s Doctor too, especially in those favorite first-series eps I mentioned. But Tennant is now “The Doctor” to me. It was time for a change for everyone. The change fit well with his losses and his grief. And I hear the new one is quite good. But still…I can’t help feeling like I’ve lost my Doctor.

Who’s your Doctor? Was it your first or your last? And did Tennant grow on you the way he did on me?

So, funny enough, I went back and watched the first season again and the first time Eccleston said “Fantastic” and smiled…I lost my heart to him all over again. I have a lot more appreciation for Tennant than when I began and I really do love him as The Doctor. But I think Eccleston will always be my Doctor, even if I don’t always remember it. Still, I think this post really reflects the progress of my watching the series.


  1. January says:

    I’m glad to see that you came to love Tennant. I’m only just beginning series two, and although I’ve seen and enjoyed a few later Tennant (and Smith) episodes randomly and out of order, now that I’ve gone through series one…well, your post shows that you understand precisely my feelings here. I do love Tennant in general as an actor, so I’m willing to keep an open mind.
    In regard to the other point, I’ve never minded Rose. I can’t see us being best pals or anything, but I like her just fine as the Doctor’s companion.

  2. Daniel says:

    Matt Smith will forever be my Doctor. He’s quirky and charming, and just a hilarious old man. He makes me giggle and choke up.

    That being said, I am completely enamoured of David Tennant. The Tenth Doctor is my second favourite, equally quirky, lovable, eccentric, and just downright fun that you can’t help but love him. Tennant and Smith share all the Doctor Who-related space in my heart equally.

    I’m really excited for Series 6, too. Enjoy Series 5.

  3. Carrie says:

    Eccleston is still my favorite. I’ve just finished Torchwood a couple days ago and am about to watch Season 4 of Doctor Who. I wasn’t a fan of Tennant in Season 2 but by Season 3 he had grown on me.

  4. Ruth says:

    @January If you’d ever like to do some Doctor Who double-dating, we’d probably be up for rewatching any of the eps I mentioned in this post. Others too, but especially these. I like how you described early Tennant on Twitter, as “floppy.” That sounds about right.

    @Daniel I’m really looking forward to Matt Smith. It’s what’s keeping me from taking another brokenhearted “My Doctor is dead” break.

    @Carrie I’d love to hear if Series 4 changes your mind at all. I think it’s good that there’s a Doctor for everyone, but I was also surprised at how much he and Donna grew on me in that last series.

  5. Jarza_Quinntes says:

    Tom Baker I remember sitting up watching episodes of Doctor Who on PBS when I was younger. But David Tennant was the Doctor who got me really interested in the modern series. And I think Matt Smith is doing a really good job of taking Tennant’s place as the Doctor.

  6. Joelle says:

    Tom Baker was my first. He was the Doctor I watched as a child, and he was the one who stuck with me for years. I also sort of had a bit of a crush on him. The way he said “Well…” made me giggle.

    I loved Eccleston as the Doctor the minute I saw him. I loved that first series and was really sad he only got the one. His “Fantastic!” is sorely missed.

    I love David Tennant. But it did take me a while to warm up to him as the Doctor. And he was superb. I’m sad that he got a wonderful farewell episode and Eccleston did not. Ten got to see everyone he cared about one last time, and Nine didn’t. (If only he had had more time to make more friends, I think he would have had plenty of people to miss.)

    Matt Smith is really great, too, but I don’t love him yet. I loved Four, Nine, and Ten. I think I will love Eleven eventually, though.

    Oh, and Donna has been my favorite companion thus far. I loved Martha, too, but only after I was able to forgive the writers for putting in that unbelievable unrequited love story line. Ugh. It just came on too soon and out of nowhere. It’s like they wrote that in for fans who wanted to see everyone fall in love with the Doctor, and it just didn’t fit with their chemistry at all.

  7. Joelle says:

    Oh! I forgot to mention, David Tennant’s “Well…” is veeerrrrry Tom Baker-ish. I think that’s what made me stick with him in the beginning, and then he won me over entirely.

  8. Ruth says:

    @Joelle yeah, I kind of get that the Doctor is very crushable but after Doctor/Rose I wasn’t into Martha’s crush. It wasn’t because I felt what he had with Rose had to be special, it’s just that companions having fun together is so much more fun than angst. 😀 That made Donna perfect, of course. No angst there.

    I haven’t watched any Baker–it’s on my someday list, but I do like the way Tennant says “Well…” :)

  9. Nancy says:

    “I think the 4th series has more of my favorite 10th Doctor episodes than the other two combined, and Donna became my favorite companion by far (and her granddad made a great co-companion).”

    So very much this. I love Series 4, to the point of watching “Partners in Crime,” declaring it my favorite episode, then watching “The Fires of Pompeii” and declaring it my favorite episode, on and on and on, until “Journey’s End.”

    I wasn’t 100% sold on Donna from “The Runaway Bride,” but I think her mimed conversation with the Doctor just… did it for me. If I didn’t adore her before, I was besotted from then on.

    And Wilf! I love Wilf, perhaps a little too much. (I bought a Bernard Cribbins CD, and I may or may not be working on perfecting a pattern for his red hat.) He’s just… such a doll. Oh, I love him.

    As for Rose and Martha, I love them both. I loved Rose for seeming so, well, normal. And the end of Series 2 is incredibly sad. Sometimes I tear up just thinking about it. And Martha… poor Martha. I wrote this kind of in response to a lot of anti-Martha talk from a group of online friends.

    And I also love Amy, from the fifth series. And I love the Eleventh Doctor, too, just as much as Ten. I think I love, well, pretty much everyone in the Whoniverse. Boom de yada, boom de yada. :)

  10. esgaril says:

    I heard that saying too, that you never forget your first Doctor. And I believe it’s true. For me, David was the first in Satan Pit.
    I didn’t know much about the show at the time, cos I live in Hungary and it doesn’t have a great fanbase here. Plus it got a pretty lame title in the translation, something like “Who are you, Doc?” so it didn’t catch my attention before. But I heard from many people that it’s a great show, so I gave it a chance. My best decision ever! :) So I learned about the Doctor, the TARDIS, the Time Lords and all the canon from David, that’s why he is and will be forever My Doctor. His million face/mood/side – childish, ancient, funny, furious, etc – caught me and never let go, I’m also a David Tennant fan since then. :)
    Then they started the new series from the beginning on another channel so I met Chris as the Doctor and I liked him, but after David he seemed a bit off to me. Can’t really explain, he just didn’t felt right somehow, but I do like him and it was great to see how did Rose met the Doctor and how was they relationship started.
    As for Matt: David’s last specials just arrived last Friday from BBC shop and I spent the Saturday watching them and crying. I will miss David terribly, but I found my peace in the fact that he wanted to go. So emotionally I’m not quite ready for Matt yet, but in a few days/weeks I’ll be looking forward to meet the Eleventh Doctor…

  11. Harlan says:

    Tom Baker was my Doctor. I had grown up on his episodes, repeated more than any other Doctor, on PBS in New York and New Jersey. At the time the Peter Davidson episodes were too new and not yet on this side of the Atlantic, and Baker and Pertwee were the only episodes they’d show.

    When the series returned in 2005, I wasn’t all that interested. I still loved the classic series, but after the TV movie, I wasn’t ready for Doctor Who to be brought back to television. I was sure they’d screw it up and it would be a short-lived series. Eccleston was fantastic, though (“fantastic!”)… much better than I expected, but I never liked Rose.

    Tennant is an amazing actor and he brought much more to the role than anyone before him, including Tom Baker, but part of that is also the show’s content changing with the times. It is a modern show with all the pathos you’d expected for a top series in the new millennium (and series one with Eccleston was not quite there yet). The writing now provides an opportunity for the characters to be three-dimensional, and with excellent actors, the characters can become four-dimensional (so to speak).

    Wasn’t happy with the seemingly hours-long ending to the last episode of Tennant’s tenure though. He was great, but I wanted to shout at the TV, “Get on with it!”

  12. jsf26 says:

    Your experience of Doctor Who sounds almost exactly like my own, down to the “My Doctor is dead” break. Once I came back to it, I completely sympathized with Rose in that first episode with Tennant – Her Doctor betrayed her by leaving and she didn’t want to accept the new one. But then Tennant grew on Rose, and he grew on me as well. It was surprising how much I really did love him by the end.

    The only difference between your story and mine seems to be that either I’m a little more stubborn or a little more of an idealist because Eccleston remains My Doctor.

    I loved David Tennant as an actor – the wit and warmth with which (say that ten times fast) he approached the role, but his darkness was a little too much for me. That’s not to say that I didn’t love it, just that in my mind, for whatever reason, The Doctor is someone who has many faults but still remains endlessly compassionate at the end of the day. Eccleston’s Doctor pushed this boundary a couple of times, but he seemed to grow over his season, and I would contribute a chunk of that to Rose (which is why I can support her and the Doctor). The end of “The Family of Blood” kind of cinched my concerns about Tennant’s Doctor: as much as I loved him, maybe even more than Eccleston because I got more time with him (although Eccleston will always be my First), he just could not be My Doctor.

    As for Matt Smith, I’m currently only most of the way through series 5, and although I like him a good bit, his character’s personality seems a bit flat. He’s enjoyable, and loveable in his own way, but he has not yet replaced either other Doctor in my heart.

  13. Ruth says:

    So, funny enough, I went back and watched the first season again and the first time Eccleston said “Fantastic” and smiled…I lost my heart to him all over again. I have a lot more appreciation for Tennant than when I began and I really do love him as The Doctor. But I think Eccleston will always be my Doctor, even if I don’t always remember it.

  14. Nancy says:

    You know, I’m finding that my Doctor is whichever Doctor I’m watching or listening to at the moment. And, while I don’t have too much trouble saying, for instance, I prefer Donna over Rose or Martha, I can’t really say that I prefer any numbered Doctor over another; it feels like I’m somehow betraying the others.

    Does this mean that my Doctor is The Doctor? Is that as much of a cop-out as it feels?

  15. jsf26 says:

    @Ruth, that’s pretty much exactly the way I feel.

    @Nancy, I don’t think it’s a cop-out; I think it’s probably the best way for a Who-lover to be. Loving the Doctor in all of his incarnations just means you love the Doctor, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

  16. […] I claim Captain Jack as my Doctor? How David Tennant Became My Doctor @Being […]

  17. Fjord Prefect says:

    I too was very surprised to find how much I had grown to love Donna as the Doctor’s companion. I loved the fact that they were just friends and nothing more. She has since become my fave of the new series companions and I’ll miss her along with David, who still is, and probably always will be, my favorite Doctor. I enjoyed Eccleston, but Tennant really made that show something special.

  18. Shay Lovely says:

    David was always my first and only DR. I watch Eccleston and I like him but Tennant made the show for me. after he left I can’t bear to watch Smith, so I don’t.

  19. Annelise says:

    I was so mad when Eccleston was replaced by Tennant but by the third episode with David… I was sold. I agree with your assessment of Rose (she actually reminds me of this annoying neighbor girl I grew up with) and I really liked the dynamic with Donna. Anyway… Matt Smith is fun but isn’t as good as David or Christopher… in my opinion.AActually… I really like Rory in the newest ones.

  20. Jenna says:

    Technically Chris was the first Doctor I’ve seen. I was introduced to Doctor Who in the episode Bad Wolf. Which caught my attention immediately because Big Brother and The Weakest Link were on there. I was like wtf am I watching The Weakest Link DOES NOT have a robot zapping people to death. And Jack, Ooooh Captain Jack naked was nice as well, and his infectious smile. The same day I saw Doctor Who was on Scifi and watched an episode (Idiots Lantern)but noticed the Doctor was different but Rose was still there. I was utterly confused but watched anyways because the guy playing the Doctor (David) captivated me and I recognized him from Harry Potter. I bought series 2 after watching Idiot’s Lantern and watched it all in two days. David became my Doctor. So maybe I am biased because I saw all of David’s seasons before I watched Chris’s. But even if I did start with Chris I know David would still be my Doctor. He made me feel alot more than Chris or Matt. I cried,laughed,yelled etc. I felt more passion from the 10th. When I think of the Doctor I will always think of 10. If the TARDIS shows up in my front yard, I expect to see 10 running out grinning like a fool.

    And Donna Noble….oh Donna. Series 4 broke my heart. Everyone will tell you end of series 2 (Doomsday)is the saddest episode. Yes I cried,but honestly Series 4 is sadder. I was a bit hesitant about Donna being the companion after seeing how awful she was in Runaway Bride. The thing that makes Donna so brilliant is how much she grew and changed. The Doctor made her soo much better and she made him so much better. It was refreshing seeing the two of them just being good mates, laughing and poking fun at each other. That’s why it broke my heart when he had to take Donna’s memories away, the memories of all that she saw and became with the Doctor. Rose got to keep her own version of the Doctor, she got her happy ending. Donna didn’t. Donna always gets the short end of the stick. And Wilf …oh Wilf her grandfather also breaks my heart. He loves and believes in Donna so much when noone else would. He also believes and admires the Doctor so much. He saw how much better the Doctor made her.

    As far as Matt 11th goes, I like him alot. He is quirky and fun. A big breath of fresh air from all of the feelings of 10ths seasons. But the warm Doctor Who memories are always going to be associated with 10.

    I read somewhere that 9 introduced you to the Doctor, 10 is the one you fell for, and 11 is your best friend. Which is all true for me :)

  21. ilovedavidtennant says:

    I AM COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH DAVID TENNANT. Eccleston was my first doctor, and i was dissapointed when his season ended. I was unsure about Tennant when i first saw him, but i came to love him very quickly. When Donna came into play, I really realized just how much I loved Ten…..with the Doctor-Donna relationship and all, Donna soon became my favorite companion. I cried so hard when the doctor had to take away her memories…and I saw a side of the doctor that I’ve never really seen before. I had the hardest time getting over -NO I AM NOT OVER the fact that he is no longer the doctor. But actually, that is incorrect, because he is still the doctor to me – my doctor. Although I really love Matt Smith and couldn’t think of a better 11th doctor, David Tennant will always be THE doctor to me.

    I’m so in love with Ten that I’ve also watched him outside of DW….and I have to say that he is magnificent! I’ve seen all of his movies, shows, anything! My lifelong dream is to one day meet him and thank him for making such an impact in my life. Although in my eyes he is my everything, i’m sure i’ll just be another fan to him. But i love him so much that it won’t matter. He has inspired so many, and I know (especially after reading your comments) that i’m not the only person who feels that way. So i wanna say THANK YOU DAVID TENNANT.

  22. Jesse J Sauceda Jr says:

    For myself, I feel that my Doctor is basically a tie between Nine and Ten(nant), though mathematically it may be separated by percentage points. Maybe that’s just the cost of doing business for those who found The Doctor thru New Who… a side effect of Eccleston’s brief tenure. Of course I’m a fan of both wardobes as well (would that I could have both coats in my closet).

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