Donna Noble

Donna Noble
Doctor Who character
Donna Noble.jpg
Donna Noble
Affiliated Tenth Doctor
Home planet Earth
Home era Early 21st century
First appearance "Doomsday"
Last appearance The End of Time
Portrayed by Catherine Tate

Donna Noble is a fictional character played by Catherine Tate in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. A secretary from Chiswick, London, she is a companion of the Tenth Doctor, appearing in one scene at the end of the final episode of the 2006 series, "Doomsday", leading into the programme's second Christmas special, "The Runaway Bride". When the character refused the Doctor's invitation to become a permanent travelling companion, for the programme's third series (2007), the Doctor travelled alongside medical student Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). However, Donna returned as The Doctor's sole full-time companion for the whole of the fourth series in 2008,[1] and reprised the role once more in the 2009-10 special The End of Time.[2][3]

Within the series' narrative, Donna begins as an outspoken middle aged Londoner, whose view of the universe is small in scope. Although she at first finds alien time traveller the Doctor terrifying, their initial encounter leaves her unsatisfied with her small little world, and she jumps at the chance to travel alongside him when the next opportunity arises. Her very human perspective saves the Doctor's life when they first meet, and persuades him to act more compassionately and make exceptions to the rules in order to save individual lives; in return, Donna becomes a more worldly and heroic individual. From humble beginnings, it is Donna who saves the universe in the fourth series' conclusion, although tragically at the cost of the memories of her travels with the Doctor, leaving her, once again, largely the woman she was before she met him. In a contrast to the Tenth Doctor's prior female companions, who both harboured romantic feelings for him, Donna and the Doctor shared a strictly platonic relationship; the Doctor refers to her as his "best mate".




Donna Noble makes her first appearance, credited as "The Bride", in the closing scenes of 2006 series finale "Doomsday"; she appears in a wedding dress, outraged to be inexplicably aboard the Doctor's TARDIS. The scene was kept a secret until broadcast, filmed with minimal crew, and was a humorous juxtaposition to the sad farewell the Doctor shared with companion Rose (Billie Piper) moments prior. Donna's story is picked up in 2006 Christmas special "The Runaway Bride". Donna is a temporary secretary at H.C. Clements in London, a security firm which, unknown to her, is a front organization for the alien-investigating Torchwood Institute. Her parents are Geoff (Howard Attfield) and Sylvia Noble (Jacqueline King). Donna discovers that she is a pawn in a scheme of the Empress (Sarah Parish) of the alien Racnoss, having been manipulated by her fiancé, Lance (Don Gilet). When the Doctor unleashes his fury upon the Racnoss, Donna snaps him out of it and together, they escape before the Torchwood facility floods. Donna is upset, having lost her job and her fiancé, and declines the Doctor's offer to become his companion, though she advises he find one.[4] Donna does not appear in the 2007 series, but the character Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins) appears in 2007 Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned"; in the 2008 series, he is introduced properly as Donna's grandfather, following the death of actor Howard Attfield.[5]

In series four premiere "Partners in Crime" (2008), Donna has become dissatisfied with regular life and more interested in the bigger picture. When both are investigating the alien connection to Adipose Industries' Miss Foster (Sarah Lancashire), she and the Doctor are re-united, and she joins him in the TARDIS as a regular companion.[1][6][7] In "The Fires of Pompeii", Donna shows her compassion when she argues and convinces the Doctor to save a family from the Pompeii eruption of Mount Vesuvius.[8] In "The Doctor's Daughter", it is Donna who names the eponymous character "Jenny" (Georgia Moffett).[9] The episode "Turn Left" features a parallel universe wherein Donna never met the Doctor; consequently, the Doctor died and the world comes to an end much sooner.[10] In finale episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", Donna touches the Doctor's energised severed hand and is imbued with the totality of his knowledge, using which, she is able to stop Davros (Julian Bleach) and his plan to destroy reality. However, because her mind cannot handle the knowledge, the Doctor is forced to wipe her memory of him and hope that they never meet again, lest she remember and her mind "burn up".[11][12] Donna reappears in the two-part The End of Time (2009–10). When every member of the human race becomes a clone of the Doctor's archnemesis the Master (John Simm), Donna's memories are nearly restored; however, a fail-safe installed by the Doctor protects her. In the story's concluding moments, Donna marries new fiancé Shaun Temple (Karl Collins), becoming Donna Temple-Noble; the Doctor delivers her a winning lottery ticket to ensure her financial future.[13]


Outside of the television series, Donna appears in some of the BBC Books New Series Adventures novels, alongside the Tenth Doctor, in stories set in-between episodes of series four. Donna first appears in Ghosts of India by Mark Morris, The Doctor Trap by Simon Messingham and Shining Darkness by Mark Michalowski in September 2008. She makes a fourth and final appearance in the novels in Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell in December 2008; subsequent Tenth Doctor novels in the New Series Adventures range feature the Doctor travelling alone. Despite the few novel appearance, Donna does feature in a number of Doctor Who short stories, in Doctor Who Annual 2009, and The Doctor Who Storybook in 2007 and 2009, as well as one online short story appearance "The Lonely Computer" (the events of which are briefly alluded to in the episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp"). The character also features prominently in comic books and comic strips featured in Doctor Who Magazine, the younger-audience Doctor Who Adventures and Doctor Who: Battles in Time, online comic book features, comics featured in the Annual and Storybook, as well as two arcs of American comic book company IDW Publishing's Doctor Who ongoing series.

Audio drama

Donna also appears in three original audiobooks published by BBC Books: Pest Control (May 2008), The Forever Trap (October 2008) and The Nemonite Invasion (February 2009).[14]

Introduction and character development

As indicated by David Tennant in his series two video diary (included in the DVD box set), the casting of Catherine Tate was kept secret; her scene in "Doomsday" was filmed with minimal crew. His series 3 video diary mentions that this instance was one of the few occasions where the element of surprise was successfully maintained without it being revealed in advance by the media. Tate became the first guest star to be named in the show's opening credits; John Barrowman, Kylie Minogue, Peter Davison, Elisabeth Sladen and John Simm have since been credited in this manner. Her character was considered by the production team to have companion status long before the announcement of the character's return.[15] Executive producer Russell T Davies at one time dismissed Donna's potential as an ongoing companion due to her abrasive personality, saying that "she'd get on your nerves".[15] In fact, the character was not originally scheduled to return at all. In Davies' original conception of the fourth season, it was one-off character Elton Pope (Marc Warren) from 2006's "Love & Monsters" who was to become the Tenth Doctor's last ongoing companion. Donna did not even appear in his original conception of reunion episode "The Stolen Earth", despite planned reappearances from Martha, Captain Jack (Barrowman), Sarah Jane (Sladen), Rose (Piper) and Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri), as well as Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and the cast of spin-off series Torchwood.[16] Later still, Davies had intended the series four companion to be "Penny", a Northern woman with whom the Doctor would share a romantic attraction; actor David Jason might have played the character's father. After a conversation between Catherine Tate and the BBC's Jane Tranter, in which Tate expressed an interest in returning, Davies rewrote season four to feature Donna instead.[17][18]

Tate looked to her own full-time casting as a "gamble" on the part of executive producer Russell T Davies; Tate attributes this to being "known, by the vast majority of people, for wearing wigs and comedy teeth" (in her sketch comedy The Catherine Tate Show). The actress was grateful to Davies for casting her, and joked about the prominence eventually afforded her character: " "For one brief moment I was the most important woman in the whole of the universe."[19] Digital Spy also comments on the riskiness of Tate's full-time casting, and the worries of the show's fans when it was first announced. Ben Rawson-Jones attributes the character's success to her boisterous personality being toned down for her first 2008 appearance, "Partners in Crime."[20]


Who can ever forget the sheer visual hilarity of her silent first encounter with The Doctor in 'Partners In Crime', or her attempts to blend in to the deliciously Cluedo-esque world in 'The Unicorn And The Wasp'? Then there was her paraphrased Alan Partridge homage in 'The Poison Sky', quipping "back of the neck!" after offing a Sontaran via its probic vent. Pure "wizard", as Donna would put it.

Ben Rawson-Jones, praising the character's comedic scenes in Digital Spy.

In their review of the fourth series, Digital Spy opined "At the core was Catherine Tate's excellent performance as Donna Noble, epitomising the intricate fusion of fun, adventure, sadness and a desire to belong." Digital Spy noted that fans initially worried about Tate's full-time casting, as she is known for her role as a comedian and comic actor. They attributed the character's success to the modification of the much more brash and boisterous character she appeared to be in "The Runaway Bride". The character's comedic elements continued ("the occasional... misfire") in the form of her tendency to shout, but Digital Spy was praising of many of the character's comedic moments. They praised, moreso, Tate's crying scenes "The Fires of Pompeii", which "gave the visually impressive episode much-needed depth", as well as her sensitivity and emotionality at the mistreatment of the alien Ood" in "Planet of the Ood". Cult Editor Ben Rawson-Jones also praised the character's "tragic" scenes, such as losing her fake children and ideal man in "Forest of the Dead", and the "emotional wringer" of Donna-centric episode "Turn Left".[20]


  1. ^ a b "Donna says "I do!"". British Broadcasting Corporation. 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-03. 
  2. ^ Jonathan Ross. David Tennant, Catherine Tate (guest hosts). BBC Radio 2, London. 11 April 2009.
  3. ^ Miloudi, Sarah (14 April 2009). "Catherine Tate spotted filming Doctor Who in Swansea sun". Western Mail. Retrieved 16 April 2009. 
  4. ^ Cook, Benjamin; Davies, Russell T (#386, September 2007). "Leader of the Gang". Doctor Who Magazine: pp. 17 
  5. ^ "SFX Exclusive! Phil Collinson on Doctor Who (SPOILER ALERT!)". SFX. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 
  6. ^ "Tate to be Doctor's new companion". 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  7. ^ "Partners in Crime". Writer Russell T Davies, Director James Strong, Producer Phil Collinson. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One, Cardiff. 2008-04-05.
  8. ^ "The Poison Sky". Writer Helen Raynor, Director Douglas Mackinnon, Producer Susie Liggat. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One, Cardiff. 2008-05-03.
  9. ^ "The Doctor's Daughter". Writer Stephen Greenhorn, Director Alice Troughton, Producer Phil Collinson. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One. 2008-05-10.
  10. ^ "Turn Left". Writer Russell T Davies, Director Graeme Harper, Producer Susie Liggat. Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One. 2008-06-21.
  11. ^ "The Stolen Earth". Russell T Davies, Graeme Harper. Doctor Who. BBC. 2008-06-28.
  12. ^ "Journey's End". Russell T Davies, Graeme Harper. Doctor Who. BBC. 2008-07-06.
  13. ^ The End of Time. Russell T Davies, Euros Lyn. Doctor Who. BBC One. 25 December 2009–1 January 2010.
  14. ^ BBC Worldwide Press Releases (2008-02-25). "David Tennant to read Doctor Who: Pest Control". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  15. ^ a b Cook, Benjamin (January 31, 2007 (Cover Date)). "The Runaway Bride — Along Came A Spider". Doctor Who Magazine (Panini Magazines) (378): 25–26. 
  16. ^ Davies, Russell T; Cook, Benjamin (25 September 2008). "1". The Writer’s Tale (1st ed.). BBC Books. p. 20. ISBN 1846075718. 
  17. ^ Pixley, Andrew (2008-08-14). "Voyage of the Damned". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) The Doctor Who Companion: Series Four (Special Edition 20). 
  18. ^ "Competition and Review: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter". The Medium is Not Enough. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  19. ^ Rawson-Jones, Ben (2008-07-14). "Tate thanks 'Doctor Who' boss for gamble". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  20. ^ a b Rawson-Jones, Ben (2008-07-13). "'Doctor Who' - Season Four Review". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 

External links

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