As I’m sure most fans are aware by now, last week the BBC published an interview confirming that David Tennant will step down as the Doctor after the last few specials planned for the next year and a half.

We have had many interpretations of the Doctor over the last 45 years; the cantankerous grandfather we first saw, the boyish and slightly spacey Peter Davison, the comically exuberant Sylvester McCoy, the roguish and charming Jon Pertwee, and the most famous, Tom Baker’s sometimes goofy, sometimes frightening, always brilliant Fourth Doctor.

When Chris Eccleston took over the role for the revived series, I was incredibly excited. Already an Eccleston fan from his work in films like 28 Days Later, I loved his take; one of the daffiest, yet one of the most angry and violent Doctors the show ever saw. Only survivor of a Time War in which he perpetuated mass genocide against not only his enemies, but against his own people, he was a Doctor with a lot of issues. Maybe the first Doctor who needed a doctor, at least a head-doctor, which he found in the unlikely personage of a 19-year-old Cockney shopgirl.

When it came out that Chris Eccleston was stepping down at the Doctor after only a single season, I was devastated. He had rapidly come to rival any of his 8 predecessors as my favourite. Rose and the Doctor was the greatest companion relationship I’d ever seen; more of a father-daughter kind of relationship, with just a sprinkling of sexual tension from time to time. Rose, while sometimes needing the inevitable rescues, also did her fair share of rescuing. I didn’t think any new Doctor could maintain such an enjoyable balance.

His successor, David Tennant, was someone I’d never heard of before. I mourned Eccleston, and awaited the coming of Tennant with skepticism, sure I’d never enjoy him as much as the 9th Doctor. And how wrong I was. With Rose, the 10th Doctor engaged in the first time we really felt a companion and the Doctor falling in love, and it wasn’t all soapy, or in shocking violation of the rules; it made sense, all the way down. Other companions came and went, but Rose and the 10th Doctor defined the arc of Russell T. Davies’s new series. It also made the show one of the most popular (maybe the most popular) scripted television shows in Britain, and revived the Doctor in the hearts of at least two generations of adults who had lost their interest in the eccentric Time Lord’s adventures as they passed out of childhood.

The 10th Doctor, we came to see, was not only played by a brilliant actor, but the first man who was an unabashed fan of the original series. Tennant, I suspect, began planning how he’d interpret the Doctor from the time he was a child – indeed, he himself has said it was the original series, and especially Peter Davison’s 5th Doctor, who inspired him to become an actor in the first place. He combined most of the best of the previous Doctors. He was the youngest, most roguish and charming Doctor yet; he was also the most frightening, most tragic Doctor ever. His rapid-fire dialogue, his giant shock of untamable hair, his plimsolls… he became my, and many other fans, favourite Doctors of all time, the first Doctor to unseat Tom Baker – whose run ended 25 years ago – as the greatest ever in the Doctor Who Magazine annual poll.

And now he’s going. While he was tempted to stay with Stephen Moffat taking over as head writer – most fans have noted that many of his episodes have been defining points in the series, some of the best episodes the show has seen – he ultimately decided to stick with the 3-4 seasons that most previous actors have stuck with. I was initially very upset by the news, but calmed down quickly. Unlike the one mistake Tom Baker made – staying around until he’d become somewhat old hat – he will exit at the top of his game. I’m sure he much hopes to avoid the problem many previous Doctors have found finding roles after leaving the TARDIS behind them, probably a good career move. But, as any great comedian can tell you, you should leave them always wanting more. He is unquestionably doing that, and I think it will make these last three series all the more precious in my DVD library for many years to come.

So, we will savour these last few episodes all the more, and speculate about how the Tenth Doctor will meet his regeneration, and, more than anything, speculate about whom they might pick to replace him. Several friends of mine have expressed hope it would be Simon Pegg, but while I think he might be good, I think he’s simply to big a star now, especially with his US successes and his upcoming role as Scotty in the new Star Trek film.

My personal choice, rather unsurprisingly, would be John Simm, the man who brought my NAPA namesake to the screen, Harry Saxon. He’s already proven himself a brilliant evil Time Lord; giving him a kick at being everyone’s favourite Time Lord would be a fun twist and a great choice. But, after the terrific choices they made for both the Ninth and Tenth, I’ve decided that I should just put my faith in the creators of the show; I expect that Davies and Moffat will probably decide together, as Davies still isn’t quite done with the show. My only fear; rumblings about a female Time Lord, maybe even Georgina Moffett, the daughter of Peter Davison and seen once as the Doctor’s “daughter” in Series 4. I just am not convinced that a female Time Lord/male Companion dynamic would work as well as the traditional matchup, and fear the show could become a little too Buffy, the Dalek Slayer – though I would welcome Jenny as a companion, the opportunity to see a Time Lord education on screen.

For those of you who still haven’t given the revived series – which stands quite apart from the original series and doesn’t require a familiarity with it – a shot yet, this next year is your time to catch up and say goodbye to the Tenth Doctor when his time comes, and to anticipate – with trepidation and excitement – the coming of the Eleventh.

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