Few fans of Doctor Who will ever forget Jodie Whittaker’s final moments before she startlingly transformed into David Tennant. However, when The Power of the Doctorscript was added to the BBC Writersroom script library, some viewers were shocked to see that her final words were different from the regeneration scene broadcast.
When Jodie said Right then, Doctor-whoever-I’m-About-To-Be: tag, you’re it! in the episode, we saw her regenerate. However, this sentence appeared in the original script before she said, “Ah, that’s the only sad thing.” What happens after that intrigues me. It will be fantastic, I’m sure of it.
This is a homage to Whittaker’s opening remarks as the Doctor: Oh, brilliant! It was all she said before being violently flung from the TARDIS and falling toward Earth at the conclusion of the 2017 holiday special Twice Upon a Time.
At the press screening in October, when RadioTimes.com Executive Editor Morgan Jeffery questioned the showrunner about penning Jodie’s final lines, showrunner Chris Chibnall discussed the motivations for this adjustment.
According to Chibnall (and the published screenplay), the closing scene was initially going to be I want to know what happens next and I think it’s going to be amazing. I had written that scene before I had written anything else. In the edit, we moved them around.
Seeing the performance and what Jodie had done, Becky Trotman said, “I just want to play you this sequence with the two last words switched,” and I was like, “Oh, that’s loads better!” He awarded credit for the alteration to both Jodie Whittaker and one of the episode editors. 40% writing, 40% performance, and 20% editing were his breakdown of the options.
Jodie Whittaker expressed her admiration for the lines Chris wrote for her regeneration in an interview with Empire magazine before The Power of the Doctor aired, saying: “I love the dialogue Chris wrote for my regeneration.” It perfectly captures my doctor. It’s straightforward, epic, and lovely.
She also affirmed that the sequence had been shot in a single long take in front of approximately 200 studio patrons, as Chibnall had previously stated. That day, instead of having a closed set, everyone came down to worship.
Despite the enormous audience, Whittaker had opened up about how emotional she had been while filming: “My bottom lip started going when I could tell the team was satisfied with that last shot,” she said. Well, they can’t say they need another take now that I’ve f***ing lost it, I thought.
Russell T. Davies has now announced David Tennant will also be the show’s official fourteenth Doctor before Ncuti Gatwa takes over as Doctor number fifteen, so fans will now have to wait a full year to learn why the thirteenth Doctor regenerated into the recognizable face of the tenth Doctor.
That won’t stop us from speculating about the regeneration twist, though, because filming reports have already given us plenty of speculations to keep us occupied until the show’s 60th-anniversary episodes air in November 2023.