‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary: David Tennant & Billie Piper to Return

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David Tennant and Billie Piper Returning for Doctor Who 50th Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: David Tennant & Billie Piper to Return

As if Whovians weren’t already about to explode with anticipation in advance of tonight’s Doctor Who mid-season premiere: BBC America has officially announced the return of two fan favorites and the addition of a legend for the 50th Anniversary Special, which is expected to air on November 23rd.

That’s right, David Tennant and Billie Piper - the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler, respectively – are coming back to Doctor Who to join the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and his new companion Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman) – and they’re bringing legendary thespian John Hurt (Harry Potter) along for the ride.

Besides the fact that the special will be shot in 3D with present showrunner Steven Moffat and frequent Who director Nick Hurran writing and directing, this news marks the first major announcement from the BBC with regard to the onscreen spectacle that we can expect to see for the 50th following months of speculation as to which past cast members – if any – would reprise their roles.

Tennant in particular has been politely hounded by the press for months with questions about a possible return. In January, he told Jonathan Ross in January that a woman from the BBC had approached him while in makeup for his appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show, telling him: “I’ve been sent to say, that anything about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary must not be mentioned on television,” which prompted Tennant to tell Ross, “That’s how scared they are – I don’t know anything!”

Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler on Doctor Who 50th Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: David Tennant & Billie Piper to Return

Tennant also told Time Out London that he was “beginning to give up hope that anything’s going to happen” back in February.

So, was Tennant just being cagey or did this whole thing come together rather recently? We’ll likely never know, but with the special set to go before cameras next week, it’s unlikely that the BBC could have kept this a secret much longer.

With that said, the wording of their press release does make one wonder if other fan-favorites from the Russell T. Davies era (and/or classic series) could make a return. According to the press release:

“The BBC has today revealed some of the all-star cast that will mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.”

Sadly, former companions Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) and John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) won’t likely be included, with Agyeman having told Crave:

“I’m doing two things for the 50th but nothing to do with being in the drama.

While Barrowman tweeted:

“I will not be involved in the 50th Anniversary Episode of ‘Dr WHO.’ “

How Tennant and Piper fit into Matt Smith and Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who is another question. Granted, Doctor reunions are a part of a lapsed anniversary tradition, occurring during the 10th anniversary with “The Three Doctors” and for the 20th anniversary with “The Five Doctors,” but in the regenerated series, only the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) has returned, and ever so briefly in the Steven Moffat penned “Time Crash” mini-episode back in 2007.

However, despite that trip down memory lane Moffat did have this to say recently with regard to the 50th Anniversary and nostalgia:

“The show must be seen to be going forward. It’s all about the next 50 years, not about the last 50 years. If you start thinking it’s all about nostalgia, then you’re finished. It’s about moving forward. The Doctor is moving forward, as he always does. He wants to solve the mystery of Clara. He’s not thinking about all his previous incarnations and all his previous adventures.”

So, how does Moffat go forward while going back? Well, surely the pairing of Piper and Tennant could mean a return to Pete’s World and Bad Wolf Bay, with the Meta-Crisis Doctor serving as a clean jumping back point for Moffat, but that is merely speculation and part of the fun that every fan of the show gets to put themselves through until Moffat’s master plan is revealed in November.

John Hurt on Doctor Who 50th Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: David Tennant & Billie Piper to Return

John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander in ‘Harry Potter’

And that’s another thing: Will those rumors about the return of The Master in the 50th Anniversary special come true as well? Could John Hurt be taking on the iconic role of the Doctor’s version of Moriarty? See, endless speculative fun.

Doctor Who returns tonight @8PM on BBC America. The 50th Anniversary is expected to air November 23rd, 2013. In the meantime, check out our Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List.


Sources: BBC America, io9CraveTime Out London, & The Mary Sue

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. This is awesome. I’m still holding out hope that Catherine Tate will return in some way.

  2. If they bring back The Master, I hope John Simm returns to the role. He was amazing.

    • I agree!

  3. Great news! i just wish that jack and martha would make an appearance. and i never thought that tennant could return as human doctor in petes world. i thought that universe was cut off for good. but it is doctor who and anything is possible.

  4. Anyone currently watching the show. I just wanna point out that the novel Clara holds is written by Amy Williams. As in Amy Pond Williams

  5. Finger cross that John Hurt’ll play The Master. If they’re bringing The Master back they should make him the old calculating adversary instead of the loud sociopath Master we get in season 3/4′s special.

  6. Great news! But I do hope Billie Piper remembers how to be Rose Tyler though, apparently she had forgotten how to play the character by the last time she appeared and to be honest, it came of pretty weird for the most part. Tennant is of course welcome.

    But I really wish Christopher Ecclestone and John Barrowman were involved too. I know the Ninth Doctor was short-lived, but without him there’d be no revived series. And Jack was probably one of the most all-around popular recurring companions, and I certainly liked him more than Martha or Donna. Would be great if they worked to bring these two back as well.

  7. I want the proper Tenth Doctor back not the half human one the proper 2 heart one

  8. This is good news, and I cant wait for it. Always liked the 10th doctor best out of the new three doctors. I like the stories of the 11th, but I still can’t get used to him and into him at all. Wished Tennant would’ve stayed a bit longer, his doctor was pretty awesome. oh well… cant wait anyways.. allons-y!!!! :D

  9. Best Doctor and Best companion for 1 final time. Almost certainly headed to Pete’s World.

  10. Best Doctor returning? Cool, I always liked Chri….oh, you mean Tennant. I liked him too but he was no Eccleston, that’s for sure. Smith is still the worst one though.

    I’d be tempted to watch it and see what’s gonna happen if I wasn’t so put off by Smith’s acting and Moffat’s writing.

  11. I’ll be more excited if they announce the return of Paul Mcgann. The 11th and 8th would be so much fun to watch and Paul Mcgann really deserve a return, heck an entire season.

  12. I had kind of hoped that we might have had a 10/Rose cameo in the opening episode last night, which might have justified the BBC announcing it…oh well. I sincerely hope that it is not the meta-crisis Doctor either. It could easily by the 10th and Rose taken from a point in time between episodes in series 2.

    I am also hoping that by saying “Some of the all star cast” they mean Ecclestone and Mgcann. I think they might struggle to get Ecclestone back though as he has always been very determined not to go back to the TARDIS.

    I wonder if (personal theory) Hurt may be playing the toymaster. Could Moffat possibly borrow from the Five Doctors storyline and have the toymaster pit various incarnations of the Doctor against one another?

    • I have a feeling there is a bit more to John Hurt than simply a past or future doctor. I think you are on the right track.

  13. now bring back christopher eccleston and get benedict cumberbatch to play the master also they should bring back omega

    • …Now, that’s an idea…

  14. If the Christmas Special is to be Matt Smith last adventure we may get to meet the New Doctor in the Anniversary Special, Joanna Page is in the episode and at one point was rumored to be in the running to be the Dr’s companion last year. The Doctor meeting his Future and past selfs??????

  15. …I don’t know about Billie Piper. I did like both the Doctor’s, David Tennant and the one before him. Rose’s effect saving her father, when he was suppose the die in the auto crash was affective. That’s how I’d like Rose to come back as…

  16. …Even though her role was small, Martha Jones in “Blink” seemed right. And Tennant and Agyeman, in the series of pre-world one, (WW1) was right up there. He was a teacher and she was a maid servant. (Sorry, I can remember the name)…

  17. …Thanks for all you Who’s! I past 60. Got to was, on UHV in the late 60′s. A move with my parents caused a clear picture on the ‘old 12 inch” TV set. Tom Baker, saying in the respond: “Who are you? I’m the Doctor. Doctor? Doctor ‘who’? That’s right”! Tom never said Doctor Who. He left them puzzled at what HE responsive too, “That’s Right” I loved it, and still do to this day…

  18. I’d rather it be the 10.5 from pete’s world, since that allows Tennant to come back without The Moff having to explain away any universe shredding paradoxes. I know he did it (and did it very well) with Time Crash but that was a 5/6 minute encounter, with enough time having passed between them for it to not cause any headaches.

    For any lengthy encounters between 10 & 11, you start streching credibility as to how 10 in The End of Time (who as we remember, doesn’t want to regenerate) at no point seems phased that he’s just met his next incarnation.

  19. Well the news is now that Moffat isnt going to celebrate 50 years of the series just the last seven years and its a celebration HIS way or NO way from what I can gather. He has totally dismissed a true celebration and the stars that made it big. He thinks he can impress by bringing back one solitary Zygon in a crappy hour long story???How is that celebrating half a century in a big way of the longest running sci fi legend ever??? He is a moron and to be fair I wish that R T Davies had come back to pen the story as then we might have seen a true 50th anniversary spectacular…Moffat youre dead wrong, it’s not just about looking forward, it’s just you cant be arsed with the hassle of trying to bring together a true big birthday special mixing some old with new, that’s how anniversaries are marked….You have just said to hell with that an sod the fans I’m doing what I want to do like or lump it. I’m not arsed if i see your crummy story in November now or not….you have shamed the memories of everyone that made the legend of WHO what it is today and you have no right to dismiss that past out of hand.

  20. I like having a young doctor. I love my Doctor saying, “RUN!” and getting angry and happy. I think if they cast an older actor they could loose some of there audience. Personally i will still watch because i love the Doctor. This is a long shot (probably will never happen but how cool would it be if Billie Piper was the next doctor. I would LOVE to have her back)

  21. I think I prefer having the future Tenth Doctor/Meta crisis Doctor/Tentoo in the episode over having the past Tenth Doctor. It would keep the story moving forward and wouldn’t mess up any timelines. I’m still hoping that maybe they’ll squeeze in an ex companion or two (Donna or Jack, even though John denied being in the episode). So yeah, I’d rather having the Doctor and Clara have a run in with Pete’s parallel world than another paradox (which wouldn’t work in the TARDIS anyways).

    • Totally agree with you. No past tenth!

  22. I really really hope that this will be the metacrisis doctor that was left with Rose in Pete’s World. I don’t see how it could be any other way – but then again, its Moffat. He can dream up anything. I really wish Donna was in it :( They did good not having Martha though. They already wrapped her up and I think it would just make things too complicated with her. Cheers for metacrisis tenth! <3 Tennant <3