Doctor Who: why did David Tennant change his costume during regeneration?
Normally, a regeneration in Doctor Who does not cause a change of dress. But, in the last episode, it was. A screenplay choice? Not really, according to Russel T. Davies.
After 60 years of existence, Doctor Who continues to surprise: the latest episode, broadcast on October 23, 2022, ended in a spectacular way. Whereas Jodie Whittaker’s doctor bid farewell, she regenerated into a previous form : David Tennant. He then officially becomes the 14th doctor.
This is the first time that this phenomenon has taken place in the series, yet already rich in twists and turns since its creation. Tennant’s return will be spread over three episodes in 2023 – which will also be broadcast on Disney+ internationally — also with the return of Catherine Tate (Donna Noble). And Russell T. Davies also returns to showrunning.
It remains to discover the story behind this surprise return of David Tennant. There is no doubt that this is no coincidence: it will be an integral part of the storyline of future episodes. In fact, the theories are rife, based on a few clues scattered between the last episode and the trailer.
“I was sure I didn’t want David to appear in Jodie’s costume”
David Tennant’s suit has fueled fan theories aplenty. When 13th regenerates to 14th, the clothes also change. However, this is the first time that the series has staged such a metamorphosis: usually, the new doctor finds himself dressed like the previous one – which is sometimes quite funny.
That David Tennant ended up with Jodie Whittaker’s clothes therefore suggested a twist: what if, for example, it was a kind of illusion? A form of masquerade organized by the mysterious character of the trailer for the next episodes?
Except that one recent interview by Russel T. Davies theoretically sweeps away this clue. ” I was sure I didn’t want David to appear in Jodie’s costume. I think the notion of men dressing in ‘women’s clothes’, the notion of drag, is always tricky. I am a fan of this culture and its dignity, it is something precious, but it must be done with reflection and respect “says Russel T. Davies. He is also known for his exploration of the queer question in his series Queer as Folk and It’s a sin. He believes that, in this specific case, the situation could therefore have brought its share of mockery.
He was particularly worried about the publications of the largely reactionary British press, but also about the growing openness to other markets—such as the United States. ” And [la presse] can poke fun at gender in a sarcastic or critical way, she will. (…) We could have the Doctor dressed as a knight, or dressed as a God, or dressed as William Hartnell, that the only picture they would print would be of David in what they consider to be women’s clothing. »
Clearly, this choice of staging seems motivated by the concern to preserve the series and the whole team from insulting reactionary criticism. Unless he purposely hides a script element from us, this change of costume is therefore not a particular clue to the plot of the next episodes.