Let's just say I'm glad I had the flat to myself last night. David Tennant's final flourish as the tenth Doctor was always going to be emotional, but I hadn't prepared myself for full-on sobbing.
I have loved Doctor Who since it came back five years ago. I just about remember watching it as a child on and off (the Sylvester McCoy era mainly), and I'm always proud to tell people that the second - and arguably the best - Doctor was my Great Uncle, Patrick Troughton.
I thought Christopher Eccleston did a pretty sterling job during writer Russell T Davies's first series at the helm, but I always thought it was a shame that the BBC failed to keep it a secret that Eccleston was leaving after one series, as the moment when he regenerated into David Tennant would have come as a massive shock, a bit like when The Master regenerated into John Simm (or am I alone in thinking that they managed to keep that gem under their hats?).
Tennant was born to play the Doctor. Unlike Ecclestone, he's a huge Doctor Who fan and he knows the show inside out. It also helps that he's a talented actor (not that Ecclestone isn't). And acting was what it was all about last night. Tennant - and Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred - blew me away in the key 'knock four times' scene; a genuinely spine-tingling moment when the Doctor realised with bitter dread that he hadn't managed to escape his prophesised demise after all. The sobbing began at this moment for me, and continued for the rest of the episode. I've sensed on the web that many people thought that the final 20 minutes was a load of over-indulgent, sentimental crap. But I'm firmly in the 'sod it' (or 'sob' it) camp on this one. Yeah, it was all a bit 'get the violins out' as the Doctor travelled through time to say a few final farewells to those humans he had encountered over the previous few years, but it was good to have absolute closure for once in a television series.
All too often these days (US) TV shows like Lost, Heroes and Flashforward appear to be uber-clever and mysterious at first and suck in their audiences (and advertisers) for countless series, seemingly promising some kind of huge reveal and plot twist, but it quickly becomes apparent that the 'writers' actually have no idea where the story is going. But The End Of Time tied up all the little loose ends very neatly, and you have to applaud Davies for being able to do that so masterfully.
So on to the eleventh Doctor. Young Matt Smith - and I'm permitted to say 'young' as he is nine months my junior - made his first appearance at the end of last night's episode. I've never seen him act before (I have the Sally Lockhart Mysteries on order, in which he plays cheeky cockney lad Jim. If you haven't read the Philip Pullman books on which these TV dramas are based I would thoroughly recommend them) so I have no frame of reference. It's pretty impossible to tell what his characterisation of the Doctor will be like in such a brief appearance, but I hope he doesn't try and copy Tennant too much. I know he's youthful and all, but it would even be nice to see him as a more melancholy character, with less bouncing around. Here's a preview of the next series which hints at what is to come:
I notice that Alex Kingston is in there as the character River Song. My friend Carl, who is a MASSIVE Whovian, detests the River Song episodes (Tennant's Doctor didn't recognise her, but we were led to believe that he meets her at some point in the future and gets very close to her indeed), but I actually quite liked them. Interestingly, these episodes were written by the new main writer / producer of the forthcoming series, Steven Moffat, who also penned my favourite ever episode, Blink (the Blink statue baddies are in the series preview too, woop!), and another brilliant episode, The Girl In The Fireplace, in which he falls for Madame de Pompadour. I think the fate of the next series lies largely with Moffat rather than Smith, so here's hoping for some more top-notch writing.
But, for now, let us as a nation mourn the passing of the tenth Doctor; for he was fun, he was handsome, he had good hair and wore good clothes and - most importantly - he was a proper geek. And we loved him.