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SYFY WIRE Doctor Who

‘Doctor Who’: Russell T. Davies changed The Doctor’s clothes so they couldn’t be ‘weaponized’

"With respect to Jodie and her Doctor, I think it can look like mockery when a straight man wears her clothes."

By Vanessa Armstrong
David Tennant in Doctor Who

**SPOILER WARNING! This article contains spoilers for the Doctor Who special, The Power of the Doctor!**

The finale special for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor aired just a couple of weeks ago and ended with a surprising regeneration into an actor we’ve seen in the role before — a previous Doctor, David Tennant.

While we knew that Tennant was coming back to the series, his regeneration was nevertheless surprising for many fans, and not just because he showed up as the 14th Doctor. For most of Doctor Who, when the Time Lord regenerated, their clothes stayed the same. In Power of the Doctor, however, Whittaker’s ensemble morphed into a new outfit for Tennant, the first time that’s happened since the first Doctor (William Hartnell) regenerated into the second (Patrick Troughton). 

In an interview in Doctor Who Magazine (via RadioTimes), showrunner Russell T. Davies shared that it was always his plan that The Doctor got new clothes during the regeneration process.

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“I was very certain that I didn’t want David to appear in Jodie’s costume,” he said. “I think the notion of men dressing in ‘women’s clothes,’ the notion of drag, is very delicate. I’m a huge fan of that culture and the dignity of that, it’s truly a valuable thing. But it has to be done with immense thought and respect. With respect to Jodie and her Doctor, I think it can look like mockery when a straight man wears her clothes. To put a great big six-foot Scotsman into them looks like we’re taking the mickey."

Davies, it seems, didn’t want anything from Doctor Who taken out of context and used by those who want to “weaponize” the moment to mock queer culture. “If they can play with gender in a sarcastic or critical way, they will," he said. "We could have the Doctor dressed as a knight, or dressed as God, or dressed as William Hartnell, and the only photo they’d print would be of David in what they considered to be women’s clothes."

Davies real-life consideration for having the clothes change during the regeneration could also potentially have an impact on the story — it’s clear that something went wrong when Whittaker’s 13th Doctor transformed into Tennant. Could the clothes changing into an outfit being different from what Tennant wore as the 10th Doctor, no less, be a hint of what’s in store when Tennant and the already-announced next Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, return?  We’ll have to wait until next year to find out, when Doctor Who drops three new specials on Disney+.

Looking for more sci-fi fun and adventure? Check out SYFY's Resident Alien, streaming now on Peacock.