Oi, watch it spaceman! There’s a birthday girl on the scene – Donna Noble herself, Catherine Tate, turns 48 today!
Before joining the world of Doctor Who, Catherine Tate had already been a household name thanks to her success as a comedienne. Most notably her BBC comedy sketch show, The Catherine Tate Show, ran for three series between 2004 and 2006 – featuring a variety of iconic characters like schoolgirl Lauren and the foul-mouthed Nan, Tate was nominated for and won numerous comedy and TV awards for her performances.
Coinciding with the end of her sketch show, Tate made her first Doctor Who appearance as Donna Noble in 2006’s Series 2 finale Doomsday, materialising in the TARDIS at the very end of the episode wearing a wedding dress and leaving David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor no time to recover from Rose’s tearful departure. The story continued in the 2006 Christmas Special, The Runaway Bride, which saw Donna teaming up with The Doctor to unravel a sinister plot by the spider-like Racnoss and find out the unfortunate truth about her husband-to-be. Before parting ways, The Doctor offered Donna the chance to travel with her, but she declined – a decision she would come to regret by the start of Series 4, in which against all of the odds she reunited with The Doctor to solve the mystery of the Adipose.
The pair would then travel together through time and space sharing all manner of fun times and friendly banter, although their adventures were not always without consequence – their visit to Pompeii would lead to some history-altering events (especially for The Doctor’s future incarnations) and Donna’s parallel world perils in Turn Left would turn out to be one of the most grim and emotional stories of them all. Ultimately, Donna helped to save the universe from Davros and the Daleks in 2008’s finale Journey’s End by absorbing some of The Doctor’s meta-crisis regeneration energy, becoming herself part human, part Time Lord – a combination that would prove impossibly deadly, forcing The Doctor to wipe her memories of him to keep her alive. This would not be the last time we saw Donna however, as she – and especially her grandfather Wilf – would also play a vital role in David Tennant’s 2010 swansong, The End of Time.
Since leaving Doctor Who, Tate has continued to impress as both a comedienne and an actor – she has appeared in the BBC sitcom Big School, the stage production of Much Ado About Nothing and the very recent Shakespeare Live alongside David Tennant, and some of her best-loved characters have been making a welcome comeback too, with Nan getting her very own series and Tate set to go on a comedy sketch tour later this year. Tate has also just returned to Doctor Who as part of the new Tenth Doctor adventures on Big Finish audio and the new Tenth Doctor novels, including Jenny T. Colgan’s In The Blood. As a fan favourite companion, we’re sure this will only be the start of her triumphant return in the extended media.
Please join us in wishing Catherine a very Happy Birthday – we hope it’s so fantastic that neither she or Donna will ever be able to forget it! (Well, wouldn’t that be wizard?)