David Tennant, who has played the role of the Tenth Doctor in the popular BBC series Doctor Who for the last three years, announced last night that he is leaving the show before the start of the next season.
“When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me,” the Scottish actor declared at the National Television Awards, where he took home the outstanding drama performance prize. “Now don’t make me cry. I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don’t take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you’ll be wheeling me out of the TARDIS in my bath chair.”
Tennant’s departure follows months, if not years, of speculation in the tabloid press, fuelled by Catherine Tate’s comments on Jonathan Ross that he wouldn’t be staying much longer on the show. His eventual resignation, however, appears linked to the fact that Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner are also leaving the franchise, although the actor stresses that he feels Steven Moffat is right for the job of showrunner. “Steven Moffat is the most brilliant and exciting writer, the only possible successor to Russell and it was sorely tempting to be part of his amazing new plans for the show. I will be there, glued to my TV when his stories begin in 2010.”
In an exclusive interview with the BBC following his announcement, Tennant said that he felt “three years was about right” from the very start, but took great pains to emphasise the fact that he is proud of everything that he has done so far in rejuvenating one of the longest-running shows in television history. “I feel very privileged to have been part of this incredible phenomenon, and while I’m looking forward to new challenges, I know I’ll always be very proud to be the Tenth Doctor.”
Fans need not despair, however, as there is still a bit more to come out of the actor before he leaves the TARDIS behind for good. “This show has been so special to me, I don’t want to outstay my welcome. This is all a long way off, of course. I’m not quitting; I’m back in Cardiff in January to film four special episodes, which will take Doctor Who all the way through 2009. I’m still the Doctor all next year but when the time finally comes I’ll be honoured to hand on the best job in the world to the next lucky git – whoever that may be.”