The Power of the Doctor was not just a big deal because it was the final episode of the Jodie Whittaker era in Doctor Who, but it was to be a true spectacle that featured returning Doctors from the classic era as well as many of their companions from along the way.
But as exciting as all this was, there was to be an even bigger surprise at the end of the episode when the regeneration took place as instead of regenerating in Ncuti Gatwa’s incarnation of the Doctor as we expected, Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor became David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor instead.
As we now know, Fourteen will be the star of the three 60th anniversary specials in November 2023 ahead of Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson, who will play his companion Ruby Sunday, kicking off their adventures full-time in Doctor Who season 14 at the end of the year.
But it wasn’t just keeping this surprise regeneration secret that incoming showrunner Russell T Davies and the production had to deal with, they were also having to battle against the turbulent political landscape in the UK at the time, and some big news about Boris Johnson that was about to drop.
Russell T Davies explains that there had been three Prime Ministers in the UK in three months and “on the night of The Power of the Doctor, we were hoping that politics would be quiet, because we’d recorded an interview with David Tennant and our ever-faithful correspondent Lizo Mzimba, hoping to make the BBC One news.
“David secretly recorded the segment in a London hotel on Saturday 22 October, in between performances of his West End play, Good. All set for transmission, ‘unless something happens,'” he wrote in his Letter from the Showrunner column in Doctor Who Magazine (issue 585 is available now).
But, best laid plans all that… something happened and at 9pm just as The Power of the Doctor reached its final moments and Jodie Whittaker turned into the Fourteenth Doctor, Boris Johnson announced that he was not going to stand to replace Liz Truss as the next Conservative leader and the Prime Minister of the UK.
Added Davies: “I mean, please! All right, this is history, but won’t someone think of Doctor Who?! “
He then explains the “ping ping ping” of emails as the Tennant interview got pulled from the news and shifted to breakfast TV the next day.
However, that wasn’t the end of the story, because “an early Christmas miracle” happened and the news was extended.
Davies explains: “Next thing you know, Reeta Chakrabarti is standing next to a huge image of Jodie’s face, and yes, Doctor Who is on the news! Just as it should be. Good save!”
I’d say that’s Boris 1, Doctor Who 1. I wonder when they’ll next battle for airtime to decide the contest?!
Doctor Who will return to the BBC in November 2023 and will be available on Disney+ to international viewers