David Tennant has already filmed his final episodes as the Doctor, the time-traveling champion in Doctor Who, but his past is still our future. He explained to us what happens in those episodes, and why they're the most emotional yet.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Doctor Who star David Tennant, plus executive producer Julie Gardner, (re)creator Russell T. Davies and director Euros Lynn, along with a handful of other reporters. We'll post more of their answers to our searing questions next week, but here's the breaking news. Oh, and there are spoilers below...
First of all, Tennant and Gardner insist that there's no news about a possible Doctor Who movie, and they want to damp down speculation that tomorrow's Who panel will include some kind of announcement. There's no announcement, just them talking up Tennant's last few "special" one-off episodes as the Doctor. On the other hand, Tennant promises that if every single audience member comes to the panel dressed as the Tenth Doctor, Tennant will do the panel in the nude. So there is that.
So after spending so much time crafting our video of every single time Tennant's Doctor says the word "sorry," we had to ask Tennant himself: Why do you think your Doctor is so apologetic? And Tennant had a thoughtful answer:
I think he feels guilty. I think he's in a very difficult position. He has to make the hard choices, and he's riddled with remorse for what happened to his people, and the part he played in that, which we'll learn a little bit more about before I disappear. [Laughs] Not that much, just a little bit. It's not the three-part miniseries staring [former 1990s Doctor] Paul McGann. But I think he's tortured, and he travels time and space trying to make it better... but some of the side effects of that are not as we'd wish them to be.
And Tennant admitted for the first time that season three's villiain, John Simm really is coming back. And Timothy Dalton is also guest-starring, as we already pretty much knew. "Bloody hell, Timothy Dalton," he says. "Such enthusiasm to be there." "What a voice that man has," says Gardner. And Wilf (Bernard Cribbins) plays a "huge and fundamental part" in Tennant's final episodes, and brings "such humanity" to the role, says Tennant.
The fact that the Doctor is "the last of his kind, or nearly the last of his kind," will "come back in a big way in the final stories," Tennant adds.
Not surprisingly, Tennant and the production crew all promise some of the series' strongest moments in the final episodes of 2009, and Euros Lynn said he showed the regeneration scene (where Tennant's Doctor "dies" and turns into Matt Smith) to composer Murray Gold, who bawled like a baby.
During the filming, says Gardner, "Every day there was a new goodbye of some sort to someone."
Tennant also says:
The final stories are very emotional... The story takes you to places that the Doctor can't go on a regular basis. It affords an opportunity to confront this immutable character with new challenges and places you can only take him when that man is going to die, that version of that man is going to die. And that's, for an actor's point of view, hugely challenging and liberating and exciting... It's thrilling that we get to make people cry a bit.
And Davies said that you probably shouldn't expect to see his supporting cast — Martha, Mickey, Wilf, etc. — turn up in the show after writer/producer Steven Moffat takes over. Those characters are available for Moffat to use, and he's certainly written for them before, but "He's going to build his own. It's probably time to say goodbye to those characters. Of course, for all I know, he could phoning them all up in Cardiff right now."