Season 14 of Doctor Who is set to premiere next week, in honor of the TV show’s 60th anniversary, bringing us a New Doctor, alongside some old and familiar faces — most importantly, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and his companion, Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble.
We’ll mention the coming of the New Doctor and the return of the previous Time Lord later in the article, but for now, let’s focus on Donna Noble. This article will discuss how Donna Noble has evolved in the Doctor Who series and which are some of the most crucial episodes she’s featured in.
We’ll also discuss her return to the series and what exactly we can expect from Donna in Season 14. But for now, let’s get acquainted with the character.
Who is Donna Noble?
Donna Noble, also known as The Bride, is the companion of David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor and, as per her official description, the most important woman in the universe.
She’s portrayed by actress Catherine Tate, and she first appeared in the closing moments of Season 2 and in the 2006 Christmas Special episode. However, Tate didn’t expect to reprise her role as Donna, considering that the Doctor traveled the universe with another companion, Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones, in Season 3.
Catherine Tate later expressed interest in returning to the show, and she returned as Donna for the duration of Season 4 and several subsequent specials. As a character, Donna met the Tenth Doctor after the Huon particles teleported her from her walk down the aisle into the Doctor’s TARDIS.
After showing her the universe and inviting her to travel with him, Donna turned down his offer to become part of Team TARDIS. She eventually found the Doctor again, but this time she eagerly accepted his offer to become his companion aboard the TARDIS.
Together they’ve traveled the universe, battled numerous enemies, like Vashta Nerada, and she even absorbed some Time Lord knowledge, turning her into a Doctor Donna. Unfortunately, her narrative arch coincided with the conclusion of Season 4, but she’s scheduled to return to the series in the upcoming season.
The Powers and Abilities of Donna Noble
Donna Noble is a regular human, which means she lacks any form of superhuman or alien powers. However, she has a very sharp tongue and a hair-trigger temper, despite initially appearing unintelligent — referring to herself as “only a temp” struggling to keep a job.
With that said, she’s actually very smart, level-headed, and incredibly perceptive, and the 10th Doctor even called her “brilliant” on one occasion. For example, she mastered the Dewey Decimal System — a structured classification of the entire world knowledge — in just two days.
On top of that, her fiery temper, sharp wit, and sarcastic remarks actually hide a deep well of compassion — she helped free the Ood from mass enslavement and even helped the Doctor make some terrible, albeit necessary decisions, like causing Mount Vesuvius to erupt.
Key Appearances of Donna Noble in Doctor Who
Donna Noble made a total of 16 appearances in the Doctor Who television series. Her first appearance was in the closing scene of the final episode of Season 2, titled Doomsday, in which her character is only identified as “The Bride.” Here are eight other key appearances of Donna Noble:
The Runaway Bride — 2006 Christmas Special, New Who
In the closing moments of Doomsday, following the events that had resulted in Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler being stuck in a separate dimension, a temperamental woman in a wedding dress unexpectedly appears inside the TARDIS.
The Runaway Bride picks up right at that moment, as the bride angrily blames the Doctor for kidnapping her on her wedding day. However, later it turned out that her husband-to-be was to blame since he allied with Racnoss, the giant spider-empress.
Partners in Crime — Season 4, New Who
Fast forward an entire season, and Donna Noble appears once again in the Season 4 premiere episode, Partners in Crime. The episode follows the Doctor and Donna, who are unknowingly investigating a suspicious company claiming it has a miracle weight loss pill.
The two are reunited once again when they discover that the company in question is actually turning people into sentient beings made of pure fat. Partners in Crime is one of the show’s more memorable episodes, especially as it’s filled with Donna’s one-liners.
The Fires of Pompeii — Season 4, New Who
Fires of Pompeii is actually one of the most important episodes in the entire reboot of Doctor Who. It featured some of Donna’s most important character moments, and it also introduced Peter Capaldi in his first appearance before he became the Doctor himself.
The episode is also noteworthy as it contains one of the early but elementary clashes between the Doctor and Donna due to the Doctor’s cold detachment from meddling with history. However, it’s one of the episodes that laid the groundwork for how Donna helps the Doctor be a better man.
Midnight — Season 4, New Who
In all honesty, Donna barely appears in this episode since she’s left sunbathing on planet Midnight while the Doctor’s on and about the usual adventuring.
In fact, Midnight is one of those episodes in Doctor Who in which the Doctor is completely vulnerable. But what makes this episode so memorable is Donna’s strength and protectiveness over the Doctor, despite her very short appearance.
Turn Left — Season 4, New Who
Upon making a wrong left, Donna creates a parallel universe in which the Doctor drowns, and Sarah Jane Smith and Martha Jones have passed away. The Titanic spaceliner disaster killed millions and placed the UK under martial law, and Rose saves Donna and her family from the wreckage of London.
She also advises Donna to turn left and return when Donna gets transported back in time and collides with a truck which causes the traffic jam that forces her past self to turn left. As Donna is dying, Rose whispers something into her ear. Donna wakes up later and recalls Rose’s admonition, “Bad Wolf.”
The Stolen Earth — Season 4, New Who
After the “Bad Wolf” admonition, Donna helps the Doctor locate 27 planets that have disappeared through time, including Earth. As it turns out, it was all orchestrated by Davros and Daleks, who are currently invading Earth.
The episode saw the return of Captain Jack Harkness, Martha Jones, Sarah Jane Smith, and Rose Tyler. It also features a scene in which the Doctor is shot by the Dalek, which has triggered a regeneration.
Journey’s End — Season 4, New Who
Journey’s End is the continuation of The Stolen Earth and the final episode of Season 4. The stolen planets, according to Davros, form a Reality Bomb, which has the capacity to destroy all physical matter across all universes.
After they’ve failed to defuse the bomb, the Doctor imbues Donna with Time Lord intellect, and they eventually manage to diffuse the bomb and destroy the Daleks. However, Donna’s mind is overwhelmed by the Time Lord’s knowledge, and the Doctor is compelled to wipe her mind against her will and return her to her home.
The End of Time — Season 4, New Who
Donna appeared briefly in this episode and has utterly no idea who the Doctor is. Fans anticipating Donna’s return in the centenary special or the upcoming season should re-watch this episode as a reminder of where the TV show left Donna and what things we might expect from the upcoming season.
The Doctor and Donna Noble Connection
Donna Noble was the Tenth Doctor’s companion. Despite her humble beginnings, she was considered the most significant woman in all of creation by both Rose Tyler and the Tenth Doctor due to her role in saving reality from the Daleks and Davros.
The showrunner Russell T Davies described Donna as the Doctor’s equal, his friend, mate, and a challenge, in his book The Writer’s Tale — a collection of emails between Davies and Benjamin Cook. She was the Doctor’s best friend, as she helped him rediscover himself.
How Has Donna Noble Changed Over Time?
Donna first appeared as a temperamental and perhaps a bit selfish woman who’s needlessly demanding and always puts herself first. However, it would seem that traveling with the Doctor changed Donna and made her a better person.
He brought out a more clever and compassionate aspect of Donna’s personality, and she started looking out for others, offering to help and automatically helping where she wouldn’t have before. She even began acting protectively and motherly towards the Doctor, reminding him to take care and reprimanding him when necessary.
In fact, most companions were the Doctor’s conscience, at least to a degree. But Donna adopted that role more openly and forcefully than any other companion ever, and her character growth and interaction with the Doctor are truly interesting to watch.
What More Can We Speculate about Donna Noble in the Future
Doctor Who is turning 60 next year and the series’ 60th anniversary is marked by an upcoming season and an entirely new Doctor. The Thirteenth Doctor actress Jodie Whittaker and showrunner Chris Chibnall are both leaving the Doctor Who television show.
Following the news of Russell T Davies’ return to the show, and Steven Moffat’s refusal to do the same, BBC officially disclosed that Ncuti Gatwa would assume the title of Time Lord as the 14th Doctor. Immediately afterward, rumors started spreading about the possible appearance of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor for the upcoming season.
The BBC followed up by revealing that both David Tennant and Catherine Tate are set to reprise their respective roles in the upcoming season as the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, respectively.
Unfortunately, Donna’s role in the upcoming season isn’t known, considering just how tightly wrapped everything Doctor Who-related is at BBC, so the fandom is left with nothing else but speculation. One of the main fan theories states that the upcoming regeneration goes wrong, and the Doctor ends up regenerating into an old body.
Following the season premiere, the Doctor could seek out Donna Noble, who doesn’t remember him, and perhaps ask her for help, considering that she might still have some Time Lord powers left in her — this was previously considered by the showrunners when they were discussing the character’s departure from the show.
Donna Noble – Doctor Who Quiz
What Was Donna Wearing When She First Met the Doctor?
What is Attached to Donna's Back in Turn Left Episode?
Who Did Donna Meet in The Unicorn and the Wasp episode?
What did Donna Say After Hitting the Sontaran on the Back of His Neck?
In Planet of the Ood Episode, What Talent Did Donna Show to the Doctor?