The Tenth Doctor claiming his “reward” is one of the most moving and emotional sequences in Doctor Who. After sacrificing himself to protect Wilfred Mott in “The End of Time Part II”, the regeneration process begins, but just before he’s forced to go, the Doctor grants himself a rare gift. He uses the TARDIS not to save worlds, but to intervene in the lives of people he loves and indulges in a run of rare personal victories.
Ten saves Martha from a sniper, pushes Sarah-Jane Smith’s son out of the path of an oncoming car, hooks Captain Jack up with hot space-Titanic midshipman Frame, checks in on Joan Redfern (the school nurse with whom his human self “John Smith” fell in love in “Human Nature/The Family of Blood”) and tells Rose Tyler on January 1 2005 that he bets she’s about to have a really great year.
Fittingly, seeing as the Doctor and Donna first met on another of her wedding days, Ten’s longest ‘good fairy’ scene plays out on the day of Donna’s wedding to Shaun Temple – the fiancé that wasn’t secretly planning to feed her to a massive space spider.
By the time of the 60th anniversary specials, Shaun is still around and he and Donna have a 15-year-old daughter named Rose. (On that: either the anniversary episodes are set in 2025 or some of that DoctorDonna regeneration energy stuck around in Donna’s system, because her wedding to Shaun is supposed to have taken place in spring 2010 when there was no sign of a baby Rose. Perhaps she was adopted? A Dawn-from-Buffy deal? Then again, maybe it’s nothing – try to follow a consistent timeline for Doctor Who and you may as well book your spot at a special sanatorium now.)
Back to The End of Time Part II. The Doctor flies the TARDIS to just after Donna and Shaun’s wedding and parks outside the church. Donna’s mum Sylvia and granddad Wilf spot him.
“I just wanted to give you this,” says the Tenth Doctor, handing them a small envelope. “Wedding present. Thing is I never carry money so I just popped back in time, borrowed a quid off a really lovely man, Geoffrey Noble his name was. Have it, he said. Have that on me.”
Geoffrey Noble was, of course, Sylvia’s husband and Donna’s father, the character played by Howard Attfield in 2006 episode “The Runaway Bride”. Attfield sadly passed away in October 2007 before he could film his part in series four. The Doctor’s words are a tribute to a well-loved actor, and his gift a way to show that Donna’s father was still looking after and providing for her, because inside the envelope: a lottery ticket.
Not much of a wedding present from anybody else perhaps – an oblivious Donna’s not impressed, anyway – but from a Time Lord with a TARDIS? That’s a sure win, and in a triple rollover week, it’s set to be the magic wand set that’ll make Donna’s financial troubles disappear. (When the Doctor reunited with her in “Partners in Crime”, she was unemployed, living with her mother and sharing her car.)
So, how much did Donna win on the lottery, and what did she do with it? Is the Donna who reunites with the Doctor in the anniversary specials a multi-millionaire? There’s nothing yet to suggest it in the trailers, though they did largely involve her screaming and running.
Perhaps the Doctor was wise enough just to give Donna a simple five-numbers plus the bonus ball million pound win, ensuring that she was debt-free and able to purchase a nice family home in Hounslow ready for her new life without the grievous burden of obscene wealth?
Or maybe Donna will turn out to have been briefly obscenely wealthy, but blew the lot following a passion project (developing an exciting new flavour of Pringle? Hiring a team of professionals to royally wind up frenemy Nerys?), or making a dodgy investment (extending the Leisure Palace franchise to Chiswick High Road?), or she spent the lot on some seriously fancy headgear on the off-chance that she ever makes it to Planet of the Hats.
OR, she’s still obscenely wealthy and the chief investor in that fancy new UNIT headquarters. The anniversary specials will tell. Whatever that lottery ticket brought Donna, at least it will have made up for not getting half of the copyright proceeds for Murder on the Orient Express. Girl was robbed.
Doctor Who returns on November 25 to BBC One, iPlayer and Disney+