‘Doctor Who’: Essential Donna Noble Watchlist
The Doctor, Donna, and the TARDIS will be together again! We’ve got our Donna Noble watchlist ready to celebrate 60 years of Doctor Who.
Yesterday, the BBC announced that David Tennant & Catherine Tate will return to Doctor Who! The 60th Anniversary Special will featuring the tenth Doctor and the best temp in Ch Donna Noble. Fans are thrilled – this comes right behind the news of Sex Education‘s Ncuti Gatwa taking on the role of the 14th Doctor.
As of now, we don’t have much more information about the anniversary special or the character’s appearances. And Russell T Davies is poking our curiosity with glee.
“Maybe this is a missing story. Or a parallel world. Or a dream, or a trick, or a flashback. The only thing I can confirm is that it’s going to be spectacular, as two of our greatest stars reunite for the battle of a lifetime.”
Before we speculate, some of us might need a little Doctor Donna refresher. After all, this companion’s universal adventures took place over ten years ago. Well, get ready. We’ll guide you through the series’ biggest moments so you can remember exactly how heart-crushing this storyline was.
1. Meet Donna Noble in “The Runaway Bride”
Season 2, Episode 14
Just after the devastating events that left the Doctor and Rose in separate dimensions, a very cranky woman in a bridal gown unexpectedly materializes inside the TARDIS. And that was when we first met Catherine Tate’s character Donna Noble.
“The Runaway Bride” picks up right at that moment, as Donna is angrily insisting that the Doctor has kidnapped her on her wedding day. It actually turned out to be the doing on her husband-to-be, Lance, who had formed an alliance with the Racnoss. You probably remember the giant spider-empress whose spaceship looked like a giant Christmas star?
First we establish that Donna is the sassiest companion to ever board the TARDIS. We also learn that she’s mysteriously absent every time the Doctor has come to Earth to stop some kind of mass invasion. At this point though, it seems like a total coincidence.
2. The Doctor & Donna Reunite in “Partners in Crime”
Season 4, Episode 1
Something about companions makes them unable to resist an adventure in the TARDIS. Even a skeptic like Donna. This is the first official episode of Donna’s full season with the Doctor. If you’re a completionism binger, this is your season.
After their Christmas adventure, Donna finds herself restless. She starts to look for the Doctor where ever there’s strange seemingly alien conspiracies. This brings her to Adipose Industries, the weight-loss company that brought us some of the weirdest, cutest Doctor Who merch of all time. An alien wet-nurse uses Earth as an unsanctioned birth planet for baby aliens made out of people’s fat.
Not only does this episode see Donna willingly hop on board the TARDIS (as opposed to being fetched by huon particles). But it’s also the first time in the season we see Rose Tyler, who has travelled across dimensions under grave circumstances.
3. Rose Helps Donna in a Parallel Universe in “Turn Left”
Season 4, Episode 11
This episode explores the fate of the Earth had Donna not met the Doctor at all. It means he would have died while defeating the Racnoss. So every planned alien invasion in seasons 3 and 4 would have come to fruition, and the Earth is absolute garbage. It’s a bleak storyline thanks to a Time Beetle, beings that feed on the temporal energy of a slightly-altered timeline.
The episode sees lots of Rose Tyler, who’s come back to this dimension but knows that everything is wrong. She helps guide Donna back to the correct timeline and gives her a message for the Doctor.
4. Daleks Take Over in “Stolen Earth”
Season 4, Episode 12
At the mention of “Bad Wolf”, the Doctor announces that the universe needs saving! Just as the pair head back to their present-day Earth, it disappears. So the Doctor seeks out the help of the galactic arbiters of the Shadow Proclaimation, who are absolutely no help at all. But Donna’s obsession with disappearing bees pays off, and she helps the Doctor realize that random planets are disappearing throughout time.
For the first time in the new series, we get a look at Davros, the raisin who created the Daleks. He’s joined by Dalek Caan, who jumped through a temporal rift during the Time War. This gave him the ability to see the future, but it also worked like a whisk for his brain… and his body. Together, these two drum up a massive Dalek invasion and take over the Earth. They’ve stolen Earth and all the other missing planets.
We also see all of the 10th Doctor’s companions teaming up to contact him. Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister, we know who she is, connects them all, and sacrifices her life doing so. Rose and the Doctor are also reunited, but then the Doctor is shot by a Dalek. It’s a real roller-coaster.
5. The Doctor Donna in “Journey’s End”
Season 4, Episode 13
The retreats into the TARDIS, where he pushes the regeneration energy triggered by the Dalek blast into his handy spare hand. You remember, that hand that was removed by a Sycorax shortly after his last regeneration? Before they decide to exit the TARDIS and face the Daleks, Rose reveals that dimensions are crashing in on each other, and each timeline converges on Donna Noble.
So everyone steps out to have a chat with the Daleks but Donna remains behind. Suddenly the doors snap shut, and the TARDIS is thrust into fire without its defenses up. While the TARDIS is burning, Donna puts her hand on the regenerating Doctor spare-hand. Donna and the hand share a biological meta-crisis, and the hand grows a whole new Doctor who’s part human and part Time Lord. The Doctor and Donna devise a weapon to defeat Davros. That doesn’t work, but it was a nice thought.
As Davros does a bad-guy gloat, the Daleks are arranging the planets to transmit a signal that undoes all life, which would only Daleks in the galaxy. Meanwhile, the companions are hovering over a couple of world-ending options so they’re brought onto the Dalek ship. When Donna and the Handy-Doctor burst in, Davros gives them each a good zap. And that extra juice triggers the bio-transfer bit of the Doctor that Donna received. Thanks to wibbly-wobbly Doctor Who science, Donna now has the Doctor’s big ol’ brain.
Turns out Dalek Caan used his premonition powers to look at the future of the Daleks and he did not think destroying all life was a good look after all. He used his powers to get Donna Noble in all the right places so she would meet the Doctor, gain his knowledge, and defeat the Daleks. Which she does. Best temp in Chiswick! 100 words per minute indeed.
The team saves the Earth, flies the TARDIS together, and it’s hugs all around. Here’s where the waterworks turn on. Rose goes back to her universe, but she gets to keep the Handy Doctor. Then our Doctor Donna dreams are dashed as her brain starts to collapse under the weight of all that Time Lord knowledge.
To save her life, the Doctor has to erase all of her memories of their time together. He leaves her with her grandfather Wilfred, who gets his own time to shine in the following 2009 Christmas Special “The End of Time”. We don’t see much of Donna in those specials, but we do see her marry a really swell guy. Just before his regeneration, the Doctor drops off a winning lottery ticket for the bride on her (second) big day.