Catherine, Were you surprised to be asked to rejoin the doctor for a full season as Donna Noble?
CT: I couldn’t have been more surprised. I went to lunch with [executive producer] Julie Gardener and I thought we were just there to chat. When people say, “My jaw hit the floor,” I know what they mean! I made my decision as soon as they suggested it – it just took a while to work out the logistics.
How are Donna and the Doctor reunited?
DT: That’s part of the joy of the first episode, seeing how they meet again. It’s as much about that as it’s about the alien goings on. If you were looking for the doctor, where would you go? What sort of thing would you look for?
What Changed her Mind?
DT: Ooh, her boyfriend being eaten by a giant spider. That king of thing.
CT: She thought she’d try something new.
How does he take to seeing her again? Donna was a bit of a handful last time around
DT: He’s pretty gobsmacked. But I think he feels that he didn’t treat Martha as fairly as he might have done, so at first he’s slightly reluctant to involve anyone else in his life. But Donna’s quite a force of nature, so she doesn’t take no for an answer.
How do they get on together?
CT: Its different from the previous companions, because she doesn’t have the romantic attachment [as Rose or Martha] to the doctor
DT: You’ll recognise the relationship from The Runaway Bride, but it’s less abrasive, because now Donna wants to be a part of the TARDIS’s life.
CT: In fact, during The Runaway Bride all she wanted was to do was get away from him; as it turns out, all she wants to do is be with him
Is Donna as mouthy as before?
CT: Everyone assumed she was a one off – myself included – but now she has a whole season to have a story arc. So none of the feistiness has been lost, but you also tap into a different side of her – a much more vulnerable side. She experiences all the things she sees in a very human way. So there are episodes where she lands on an alien planet, sees and alien and says “Oh My God!”
DT: She kept her feet on the ground a bit. She probably challenges him a bit more. The Doctor had a slight tendency to be a little……
DT: Pompous! [Laughs] But she cuts through all of that.
Does Donna bring out a different side in The Doctor?
DT: I think they’re good for each other. They’re good at limiting each other’s less appealing excesses. There is an equality. It’s now quite teacher and pupil, which in a sense The Doctor and Martha and The Doctor and Rose were. There’s and ease with each other
Does Donna change though out the series
CT: She has a fantastic story arc. Donna feels that he hasn’t done anything with her life and suddenly she’s having incredible adventures – and she’s not unmoved by them. She was at the beginning, but you couldn’t have had a series of someone going “Get away from me! Shut Up”
DT: You see a huge range. There’s a funny, quite banter-y stuff and a lot of surprisingly emotional stuff.
CT: They really rounded Donna out from being a shouting fishwife to some one who’s quite vulnerable and emotional.
Does she provide a greater potential for comedy?
CT: Since they’re more like equals, the one-liners are more shared out. I used to get all the best lines! I think Russell’s really enjoyed righting that dynamic, and its certainly great fun to play.
There’s more from Tennant and Tate on Doctor Who Confidential (Sat BBC3 )