Change is inevitable when it comes to Doctor Who. Hell, it’s built right into the premise. The regenerating Doctor, the companions who come and go, it’s exciting because you never quite know what the show will serve up next. Sometimes, however, that change can be painful. I know many who fell in love with the show during David Tennant’s tenure are still mourning his departure, but what if there was a way to enter an alternate timeline? To peer into a universe where Tennant didn’t abandon ship so soon, and instead stayed on for another season? If only we had a TARDIS or some other device that would allow us to explore alternate realities, then we could…I’m sorry, what’s that? Steven Moffat just up and told us about it? Okay, well, that works too.
In a recent interview with Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat fielded a reader question about the road not taken: a fifth season starring David Tennant:
I only had the roughest idea. Had David stayed for one final year, it would certainly have been his last, so my pitch was that it would start with the TARDIS crashing in Amelia’s back garden — as now — and a terribly battered and bruised Tenth Doctor staggering out. Amelia finds him, feeds him fish custard (no that was for Matt, it would have been something more Davidy) and generally helps him. But we, the audience, can see he’s in a truly bad way. Dying maybe. Eventually he heads back to his TARDIS, and flies off.
But when he returns — many years later for Amy — he seems perfectly fine, and indeed doesn’t remember any of those events…And of course over time, we realise what we saw was the Tenth Doctor at the end of his life, about to regenerate. Events that we return to in Episode 13…
The idea is a variation on something the show has played with a lot, notably in the whole story of River Song — the Doctor experiencing a relationship in an order completely different from the other half of that friendship. It’s bizarre to try and envision the opening scenes of “The Eleventh Hour” with Tennant and young Amy rather than Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor.
It’s definitely an intriguing bit of alternate history, and that season’s arc with the Pandorica would have meshed quite well with Tennant’s take on the Doctor. On the other hand, we wouldn’t have got to see Matt Smith deliver the monologue below, which was the exact moment in “The Eleventh Hour” when he won me over.