Is Donna Noble going to die in the 60th anniversary specials? That’s a question that fans have been pondering since the news broke that both David Tennant and Catherine Tate were announced as returning, respectively playing the Fourteenth Doctor and Donna. After all, the Doctor has told us that, after wiping her memories of her time with him to save her life, if she ever remembers him or their time together, her brain will burn up.
But as we creep closer to the first episode set to air on 25th November 2023, we’re getting more clues as to what is going to happen to everyone’s favourite temp from Chiswick. It’s revealed during Journey’s End that it was Dalek Caan manipulating the timelines to make sure that Donna met the Doctor again in Partners in Crime and from the trailer for the 60th, it seems that those timelines are swirling around her again, this time likely thanks to the manipulations of the Toymaker.
We see Beep the Meep clinging to her leg in bits taken from The Star Beast, as well as a spaceship crashing in front of her, so those things don’t seem to be doing her any trouble, even though when the Master took over everyone during The End of Time, her mind began to overload and she passed out, taking out some of the Master’s duplicates with her. Will that happen again? Well, I’ve got a theory on that…
Given how Donna’s daughter, played by the fantastic Yasmin Finney, is called Rose, that name can’t just be a coincidence. Rose Tyler had a lot to do with Donna during Series 4 so maybe Donna has pulled that name from her memories which have been buried deep inside her head from her encounters with Billie Piper’s character, not just something plucked out of thin air.
In the recently released Tales of the TARDIS, Jamie and Zoe reunited and had their memories given back thanks to the memory TARDIS they found themselves in. In their small segments around The Mind Robber, Zoe reveals she has a son called James, who she named after our favourite Highlander, though she had no real idea where that name came from, until it became clear that those memories the Time Lords wiped from her mind were only blocked, not wiped completely. Small things could creep through from time to time. Perhaps this will also explain where Donna found the name Rose?
As to whether or not Donna will die, we don’t know a lot about the second of the specials, Wild Blue Yonder and given how that story was filmed entirely in the studio, maybe there is something big being kept from us. Could it be the inclusion of another Doctor and that is why the TARDIS leaves them behind? It doesn’t like the temporal anomalies? I think it’s more likely that Donna remembers all her adventures and her mind does begin to burn up. But what she doesn’t know is that her daughter has inherited some of the DoctorDonna, and when the Doctor brings the dying or dead Donna back to her family, Rose is able to bring her back to life, using her portion of the DoctorDonna energy.
(If this actually happens, remember you read it here first!)
Some people have also been saying that maybe she gives her life to save the Doctor at the end of The Giggle, and this is why Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor looks as upset as he does in some of the promotional material and set photos we’ve had for him so far.
I would love to say that Russell T Davies wouldn’t kill off one of the most popular companions in the show’s history and certainly not during the 60th anniversary celebrations. But with him coming back, he’s clearly got a plan and direction he wants to take the show in; with all the Marvelication that the show is currently going through, maybe we’re going to have some Avengers Endgame levels of emotion at the end? I’ll give the BBC/Bad Wolf and Disney some credit in that we really don’t know what is going to happen: the trailers don’t give much away but my inclination is to say that no, Donna won’t die. That doesn’t mean that things are going to be easy for her. Davies posted on his Instagram when they first announced the pair coming back “Doctor, Danger, dancing, Donna’. Its interesting that the only word that isn’t a name here with a capital letter is ‘Danger’. Could this mean more than just the Toymaker coming back? Could Donna be in danger? The Doctor does tell her in the trailer:
“I don’t know, if I can save your life this time.”
But maybe the Doctor has underestimated Donna, and the DoctorDonna aspect of her that he thought he’d wiped from her mind at the end of Journey’s End is really going to save her and not kill her like he first thought. We’ve only got a few more weeks before we find out!