It’s been an eventful time for Doctor Who, both on and off screen. Russell T Davies, now an OBE, the man who successfully updated Doctor Who after nearly 20 years off our screens, is stepping down from the series runner position. He will be replaced by Steven Moffat, who has written some of the best episodes of the past four seasons (The Girl In The Fireplace, Blink, Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead), which bodes well. Catherine Tate, more famous for her ‘comedy’ characters, was a surprise choice for the new companion, especially after being seen as a one-off in the Christmas special, and has been battling fan criticism throughout. And Billie Piper was making cameos throughout this series, suggesting something big was being planned.
This pales, however, compared with what happened at the end of The Stolen Earth, the episode shown on Saturday 28 June 2008. Because, at the end of the programme, there was a genuine, out-of-nowhere cliffhanger [SPOILER ALERT] – David Tennant’s Doctor Who was shot by a Dalek and started to regenerate.
This was completely unexpected – not even the smallest hint that this might occur appeared anywhere; not newspapers, not the web, nothing. To keep this level of secret in today’s world of exclusives and gossip and insider info is nothing short of amazing. I haven’t felt this energised about a cliffhanger in years – thank you BBC and Russell T Davies for this wonderful feeling.
What does this mean? Are we getting a new Doctor? Wasn’t the gap of three specials next year supposed to allow Tennant to do Hamlet in the theatre and then come back? Is it all a bait and switch to get us excited? Is it to do with alternate timelines and Donna Noble? Was the shot of the Doctor’s hand from his first appearance a hint? Or will he just regenerate back into himself? All I know is that I’m really looking forward to the season finale and hoping that it lives up to the promise. Well played, Russell, well played …