DONNA (distressed) What-- what do we do? There must be some medicine or something!
JACK (throws guns down on seats) Just step back. (commandingly) Rose! Do as I say, and get back!
Rose can't even look away from him, let alone get back.
JACK (gently but firmly) He's dying, and you know what happens next.
DONNA (stands slowly, stares at Jack) What do you mean?
ROSE (whispers through copious tears) But you can't... not now, I came all this way.
DONNA (frantically) What do you mean? What happens next?
The Doctor holds his hand out before him - he and Rose stare at it apprehensively. It glows with an orange light.
THE DOCTOR It's starting.
His whole body starts to glow. He groans. Rose looks on, powerless, shaking.
JACK (prising Rose away from the Doctor and pulling her to a safe distance) Here we go! Good luck, Doctor!
Jack has his arms protectively around Donna and Rose. The Doctor strains to his feet.
DONNA Will someone please tell me what is going on?
ROSE (voice trembling) When he's dying, his-- his body, it-- it repairs itself, it changes. (to the Doctor, her anguish ineffectual) But you can't.
THE DOCTOR (with effort) I'm sorry. It's too late. I'm regenerating!
He throws his head backwards, his arms flung wide - orange energy explodes from his skin, erupting through the neck and sleeves of his suit. Donna, Jack and Rose are forced to avert their eyes at the light intensity. Rose squints through the blaze to watch as he regenerates, desperate to see what comes next.
We pull back to see this is on a projector screen on a stage. Sitting before it on a ridiculously overelaborate throne stolen from a Santa's Grotto at David Jones is Rupert Woosing-Gard (aka Dr. Spoon). Beside him is Chamber holding a little bell and looking bored out of his skull. On either side are gameshow tables stolen from Spicks and Specs and Good News Week respectively. On the left sits Andrew, Katy and Dave. On the right sits Nigel, Eve and a strange figure in a blue zoot suit and a long scarf with an afro stolen from Funky Squad. Dr. Spoon adresses the audience. Should there be one.
DR. SPOON Well, there you have it. David Tennant's era is over. The Tenth Doctor is dead. Long live the Tenth Doctor. What the hell does that expression mean, anyway? Anyway, with approximately, ah (checks egg timer on a pocket chain) 32 hours and fifteen minutes before the truth is revealed, two teams of intellectual wannabes will battle with words and quite possibly mud wrestling to argue that THEY were right before the whole thing was uploaded on youtube and wikipedia redefined the term spoiler. First off, for the "David Tennant is here to stay and anyone else is a lying son of a bitch who should be shot in the street like a dog" defense is Andrew Beeblebabble!
A smatter of applause as Andrew takes the podium. Nigel makes annoyed faces.
ANDREW (shuffles random papers) "So, David... when are you going to leave?" That's the question hurled at this poor guy every time a journalist opens his mouth, followed by demands to know if the Brigadier is coming back and how Sophia Myles was in the sack.
NIGEL The public have the right to know!
DR. SPOON Chamber.
Chamber sighs, dispiritedly, and jangles the bell. Then he crosses to Nigel and whacks him over the head with a cricket bat, and then returns to his place.
DR. SPOON No interruptions, please.
ANDREW Of course, this isn't to say that everyone wants Tennant to leave. Not at all. This question, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing personal. The newspapers have been able to pad out their pages with rainy day articles and dead donkeys for years about guessing who would be the next Doctor. Even at the start of this series they have been saying it'll be James bleeding Nesbitt! Not even The Sun can justify a headline of "Tennant Still Hasn't Quit Shocker!", much to their shame. Therefore, what would be the best way for the Doctor Who production team to get their own back. JNT always promised a woman or the story entitled The Doctor's Wife to fuck with the minds of those tabloid hacks. RTD has to be more imaginative. Imagine it, the journals of Britain left utterly speechless in the week leading up to the finale. No spoilers, not even speculation, just open mouthed incredulity at the cliffhanger. And that's what it is. A cliffhanger. Do you see any hint of Mark fucking Gattiss standing in the console room? No. Just DT gurning through a blaze of CGI.
STRANGE SCARFED FREAK He's right you know.
NIGEL (rubbing sore head) SHUT UP!
Chamber rings the bell and proceeds to beat them both up, while Andrew continues, oblivious.
ANDREW We have seen footage, read reports of the next Christmas Special. David Tennant, Assumpta from Ballykissangel and what's his face from Blackpool fighting Cybermen in Victorian England. With a special review of how the hell those stomping metal bastards can sneak up on people at ALL! Now, are we really supposed to expect that these scenes have been faked? That they have hired out all these actors to run around JUST to make the cliffhanger more surprising? Doctor Who may be the flagship of the BBC, but it does not have money to burn. Check out the 'TARDIS in space' stuff from the last episode. Cheap doesn't do that stuff justice. I've seen screensavers with better 3d definition. I don't pretend to know what will happen in Journey's End, but the final scene will, like the last three, end with David Tennant boggling and an unexpected arrival within the TARDIS to replace the regular what's just departed. Case closed.
Andrew throws all his papers up into the air and stalks off. Much applause.
DR. SPOON And, secondly, from the "Get over yourselves you worthless DT shippers the bastard's d-e-a-d dead and nothing's going to bring him back" corner, Nigella J Verkoff.
A pause as he realizes Nigel is still fighting with Chamber, at one point smashing the cricket bat between their heads in a gag stolen from The Three Stooges. Finally, with a shout, Nigel manages to slam the bat into Chamber's throat and forces him onto the desk panel.
NIGEL Fucking asshole, I can sue you for that! (realizes everyone is looking at him) Ah. Yes. Of course. Gotcha. (laughs nervously as he rushes over to the podium) Well, now you've all been beaten senseless by the illogical denial of the 'negative' team, I shall provide your starving brains with some manna from heaven. And anyone who doesn't get that reference is, in my opinion, intellectually subnormal. Right! (claps hands) Look at that, ladies and germs! (points to screen) Look! You see that? That is the Doctor regenerating! He's in the same pose as he first appeared, doing the same fireworks, too. He actually says "I'm regenerating!" for fuck's sake! What more do you stupid, stupid apes require? Jack says he's regenerating, Rose says he's regenerating and the Doctor says he's regenerating! SUBTEXT RAPIDLY BECOMING TEXT, NUMBNUTS! I hesistate to use the expression 'learned colleague' in relation to Andrew over there, so instead I shall say that my 'retarded grassmuncher' for the defense says that this is a metatextual snub at the journalists. Of course it is! But why in the name of Slitheen buggery does this automatically mean that DT is staying. Billie Piper!
As if possessed, Nigel suddenly closes his eyes, drops to his knees and crosses himself reverently.
NIGEL AH, ROSIE!
Snapping out of it, Nigel gets to his feet.
NIGEL Billie Piper said on international television she has spent the last two years lying through her (and if anyone uses the expression "horse-faced bint" there'll be murder done here) perfectly proportioned teeth about returning to Rose. She didn't adjust the truth. She wasn't evasive. She damned well looked us in the eye and said she was never, ever, ever coming back. God, that kind of deciet turns me on... (snaps out of it) and RTD and the others are just as bad. Is it so hard to believe that DT was lying about staying on for the 2009 specials? That they'd want his departure to be a surprise? Fuck knows it was what they wanted to do with Eccleston! And, OK, Northern Nostrils did leave before his required quota was up, getting a mere ten stories to his polysyllabic moniker before he vanished. But what about DT? He's done 36 stories on TV, not to mention cameos as the Doctor for Comic Relief and Dead fucking Ringers! Look!A graphic appears over the screen.
NIGEL As even the Chancellor of the Exchequer could deduce, David Tennant has appeared in more self contained stories than ANY other Doctor bar his holiness Tom Baker! Frankly, it's about time the bastard got chucked out. Patrick Troughton himself noted that no single actor could play the part for more than three years without being irrideemably typecast. 2006 to 2008, that's three years. Sayona, David McDonald - gurn in peace!
He flings his arms out in a raptuous gesture. Nothing happens. Awkwardly, he fiddles with his iPod and suddenly huge applause is heard and he prances back to the panel, bowing to the false adulation.
DR. SPOON Where was that mathematical genius when we were study partners, you fucker?! (calm) And next, for the 'the opposition are full of shit and DT ain't budging' brigade, Katy January.
Katy heads to the podium. There is much more applause than either Andrew (or Nigel natch) got.
KATY Thanks. Well, if, as Nigella postulates, this is the genuine end of the Tenth Doctor, then we are all to be disappointed. What kind of ending is that? Shot by a passing Dalek? Is that it? Out of the million and one possible times he could have died in this season alone, it's by a trigger happy storm trooper that couldn't decide who to shoot first? Where is the justice, the sacrifice, the passion? If the Doctor had dived in front of Rose, I might buy it. If somehow the Doctor dying devastated the Dalek plan, I might buy it. But does the Doctor die in the street? No. He survives long enough to be dragged back to the TARDIS despite us knowing for a fact that he can change outside his police box. And given one last scene for David Tennant, what does RTD do? Any of the poetic speech he gave Eccleston? Hell, remember, Eccleston's dialogue was unchanged in the scene where he DIDN'T regenerate. As Nigella points out, all they do is scream "Oh my god, he's regenerating, fair dinkum" a lot to the cliffhanger. If it was a genuine change, goodbyes would be said, at least between the Doctor and Donna. And the parting words for the Doctor suck! "Sorry, regenerating kinda?" THIS is from the writer who not only gets an OBE but the Dennis Potter award for all round marvellousness? Eric Saward did a better and more character filled regeneration scene!
Andrew and Dave laugh. Dr. Spoon glares at them. They stop. Dr. Spoon nevertheless snaps his fingers and the exhausted Chamber tries to move over to beat them up but passes out before he can. Katy continues, unaware of Chamber lying unconscious behind her.
KATY The icing on the cake is the change itself. Why the hell does the Doctor get to his feet to change? Because it looks like the last two times we saw anyone regenerate? Bollocks. Utter bollocks. This is a story that expects you to know who the hell Davros is without explanation! There doesn't need to be any visual shorthand! The Ninth Doctor and the Master regenerated upright because they were choosing to regenerate. It was, in RTD's words, 'a moment of triumph'. But does the Tenth Doctor want to regenerate? Is it a moment of triumph? Far from it, boys and girls. In simple story-telling terms, he could have gone nuclear on the floor. There's no reason for him to suddenly regain the use of his body bar one reason. The same reason everyone is running around like headless chickens screaming "ZOMG! Regeneration!" It just adds to the cliffhanger. And regenerations aren't meant to be cliffhangers, they're supposed to be plotpoint. When DT first appeared, he got a full thirty seconds of screen time with dialogue. We didn't get the Eleventh Doctor. We got diddly squat. We didn't see DT change AT ALL! Why? Because whatever the hell happens at the start of episode twelve, it'll still be Mr. Tennant when the energy streams away! Case, as Nigella said, closed.
She heads back to her place to even MORE applause than before. Furious, Nigel jumps to his feet and rushes over to the podium.
NIGEL Oh, don't walk away from me, bitch, not unless you want to walk alone!
EVE Hey, it's my turn!
NIGEL I'm doing the rebuttal!
DR. SPOON Yeah, well screw you, buster, I'M the ajudicator!
NIGEL You're not even dressed like one! You spit on the memory of Roz Forrester!
Nigel picks up Chamber's discarded cricket bat and smashes Dr. Spoon unconscious. He turns address the audience, mean and angry.
NIGEL All right then, you bastards. Let's look at all the wonderful points that slut offered you. 1) It was a weak ending to the Doctor. Well, what a change! Did the First Doctor go out in a blaze of glory? He took turns arguing with a Cyberman and a mad Yank, had a nap, ran into the TARDIS locking his companions out, then fainted! Is that a deeply satisfying end to his era? A clue: no! But it's still what happened. Did the Second Doctor bow out with dignity and fairness? He was coldly executed by his people and had a completely innefectual temper tantrum while he did it - and that's not even TOUCHING the idea he was gang-banged to death by two passing scarecrows! What about the Third? Huh? Oh, he faced his fear, did he? Pity he didn't face his complete stupidity as well, or he could have let Lupton take the goddamned crystal and things would resolve themselves. The Fourth didn't die saving the universe, the Fourth died because he didn't hold on to those goddamned monkey bars the way the teachers always tell you to! The Fifth MAY have saved Peri, but he died by getting bat shit on his hands and stupidly not drinking milk! The Sixth fell off an exercise bike! The Seventh died after those fucking American surgeons decided to IGNORE the patient's desperate pleas they don't operate! And the Ninth Doctor died because he DID inhale. So, being randomly blasted by a passing Dalek is entirely keeping with the completely meaningless and nihilistic manner of his death. Live in the stars, die in the gutter.
Chamber groans and starts to recover. Nigel cracks him unconscious again.
NIGEL What next? Oh yes. 2) His dying words sucked. No shit, sherlock. I can now reveal the dying words of all Doctors suck. The First Doctor's last words were, "Thank you. It's good. Keep warm." The Second Doctor's last words were, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" The Third's was "While there's life there's..." He didn't even finish the bloody sentence! The Fourth Doctor, I grant you, got a decent farewell with "It's the end, but the moment has been prepared for." The Fifth? "Adric," I ask you. The Sixth? "Carrot juice!" three times, for fuck's sake. The Seventh has either "I've gotta stop!" or "ARRGHHHH!" depending on your point of view. The Eighth left us with "Oh no, not again!" Ha fucking ha. And the Ninth, "So was I?" That's arguably two decent sets of final words. The Tenth Doctor saying "I'm sorry," is practically the best thought-out parting shot this show has ever produced! And as for point 3) well, Graeme Harper might just LIKE people regenerating standing up! Ever think of that? Fuck off, the lot of you!
He storms off again. Rather awkwardly, Eve takes his place.
EVE Well... Nigel's pretty much let the cat out of the bag. And set it amongst the pigeons. I'd just like to add that if DT is leaving, he is free to come over to my place and let me be his sugar mummy. (frowns) Oh, don't look at me like that, ALL of you would try it if you had a chance! Stop lying to yourselves.
Hurt, she returns to her seat. Dave gets up and crosses to the podium.
DAVE Um. Guess it's my turn. Right. Well, I don't believe that DT is going. Why? Because it would be a rough deal to whoever takes over. And I'm not doing a Mad Larry "Modern Society Can't Handle My Brilliance" rant that TV can't cope with a radically different Doctor. But the fact is, how is the Eleventh Doctor going to win the hearts and minds of an audience in two minds over whether or not he is truly the Eleventh Doctor? There's been no photocall, no interviews, nothing. Nigel says that RTD and co want the secret regeneration they planned for Season 27. The fact is, if they HAD got away with it, everyone would automatically assume that the Casanova lookalike in the leather jacket was some imposter up to no good and eagerly await the return of Eccleston in the Christmas special. DT would not be able to convince for the simple reason none of the viewers have that DWM issue with his face on it! Every time there's a new Doctor, they're splashed across the papers and magazines and everything. Otherwise we don't buy it. RTD knew that unless they said, "Oh, we were lying, Rose leaves at the end of the 2006 season" no one would believe her being sucked into an alternate universe was anything more than a cliffhanger moment. If this really were the end of DT, his successor would have been named. True, the fact he turns up in episode 13 rather than at the end of the 2009 specials could be a surprise, but it doesn't work otherwise. The audience would instinctively withhold their adrenaline. Maybe DT does change into Tom Baker or something next time. But it won't be for long. Uh uh. Apart from anything else, he hasn't appeared with the Brigadier yet!
Dave turns and leaves. Respectful applause. Nigel and the Strange Scarfed Freak sprint for the podium, have a girly slap fight and then Nigel knees him in the happy sacks. The Freak lets out a surprisingly loud scream of pain that echoes and reechoes like a soul in perpetual torment, falling lifeless atop of Chamber, knocking him out mere seconds after regaining consciousness.
NIGEL Right. Rebuttal. Right. Well. As I seem to point out again and again, the entire end of that scene is making clear the Doctor regenerates. If you understand the cliffhanger, you'll get that the Eleventh Doctor is just that. If you don't understand the cliffhanger, get the New Beginnings Boxset. Patrick Troughton survived as the Doctor with minimal press exposure, since his arrival was completely overshadowed by the return of the Daleks! And this newbie has the edge on Troughton because Troughton was becoming a Doctor when there was absolutely no precedent for the Doctor suddenly changing his face. This new guy has it easy in comparison! Paddy also became the Doctor in the middle of a series right after William Hartnell. Colin Baker becme the Doctor for the last five episodes of Season 21 after wall-to-wall Fifth Doctor action! There's been a precedent for this, and we should stop arguing about this and instead try and determine the identity of the new guy while simultaneously applauding RTD stage managing media misdirection unheard of since fucking D-Day!
He storms off. The Freak nervously takes the stand.
STRANGE SCARFED FREAK Well. Yes. I think Nigel has pretty much summed up the points I was to make. I for one welcome the new talent to the series and offer myself to take over the role full time. A good actor for the BBC series is good for all fandom, and I am the best fucking Doctor ever! You think 43 stories from Tom Baker was impressive? I've done 72! I've been a Doctor longer than anyone else! TEN FUCKING YEARS, THAT'S ME! I AM THE ONE TRUE DOCTOR, LORD OF WHAT IS SEEN AND UNSEEN! (rips off afro) Come on, everybody! DAVID SEGAL! DAVID SEGAL! DAVID SEGAL! DAVID SEGAL! DAVID SEGAL!
He is pelted with rotten tomatoes and finally forced off stage. Nigel takes the podium.
NIGEL I am so terribly sorry about that. I really am. I had no idea it was Dave Segal. I thought it was Matthew Kopelke, honestly, I never would have brought him in if I'd known. Seriously. My bad. Uh, final summing up? Everything has its time and everything dies. Usually in an incredibly disappointing and ridiculous manner. Rather like this debate. I thank you.
He walks away, but slips on one of Andrew's discard notes and falls flat on his arse. Much laughter and applause. Nigel shakes his fist at the audience in fury. Dr. Spoon has finally regained his senses.
DR. SPOON Um. Quite. Well. The final summing up for the pro-Tennant side.
He jumps over to the podium.
ANDREW The thing about debates, of course, is that they can never be about facts. There can be no debate that The Stolen Earth ended with the Tenth Doctor regenerating. Whatever happens in Journey's End cannot be debated. All we are doing is trying to judge on the balance of probabilities WHAT will occur. And my point is not that the Tenth Doctor will miraculously survive, but that David Tennant will continue to play the title role. And when I finish explaining everyone in this room will agree with me.
NIGEL Fat chance!
ANDREW My thinking is that whatever the outcome of the 'regeneration', if DT isn't still standing by the console then bad things will happen. Why is this, you ask? Well, who will be the next Doctor? There've been quite a few glimpses at production, but no possible new Doctors have been spotted. So, whoever is playing this new Doctor has to be someone already well-known by the production team, someone whose presence at filming would not be noticed let alone questioned. Someone with an ambition to play the role of the Doctor. Someone cheap judging by the looks of things. So who do we know that fills those requirements, boys and girls?
Andrew snaps his fingers. Another graphic appears. Suddenly all the lights in the stage start to spark and explode violently. A strange hurricane blast sweeps across the theatre, blowing papers everywhere. The ground starts to shake. Glass shatters and the fire alarms sound. Everyone starts to scramble off stage as fast as they can as an inhuman howling can be heard in the distance. There's a distant explosion as the lights dim to blackness. All that's left is the graphic on the projector screen: