Now that I’ve finished the David Tennant years of Doctor Who, I think I can finally say with certainty that Donna Noble is my favourite companion, which is why she’s my WCW this month.
(There are spoilers ahead, FYI).
Donna’s first appearance in Doomsday/The Runaway Bride shows us a temperamental redhead who spends most of her time shrilly shouting at the Doctor. But by the time they’re reunited in Partners in Crime, we can start to see how meeting the Doctor changed her. She’s still feisty and has a sharp tongue, but she’s a little more level-headed, not as superficial as she had been before she was accidentally beamed into the TARDIS. And, of course, like most of us would be, she’s ridiculously thrilled to find the Doctor again, after a year of looking for him.
I know a lot of people love Ten/Rose’s relationship (my sister doesn’t, and I’m on the fence mostly because I like their tragic storyline but I - unpopular opinion alert - don’t really like Rose herself), and Martha is pretty much universally disliked (she had such potential to be awesome but ruined it by being bitter all the time), but Donna...well, as the Doctor himself said, Donna is brilliant...if a little sassy.
Donna isn’t afraid to call the Doctor out when he says something disparaging about humanity or shows his insensitive side. And even if that throws him off a little, it grounds him, showing him that a lot of his actions have consequences that, despite his genius, he can’t always see because he lacks that human connection. And her compassion changes him in little ways too, like when she persuades him to save Twelve, I mean, Caecilius, and his family from Pompeii. She also insists on being treated as his equal, even though she’s “just” a human.
And because she’s not romantically interested in him (she may be blind because HELLO DAVID TENNANT *swoons*), she’s not held back by her emotions, unlike his previous companions. Yes, she does kiss him at one point in an absolutely hilarious scene (I need someone to start a game of charades so I can guess “Harvey Wallbanger”), but she was only doing it to give him a shock and then they never spoke of it again. Instead, they have more of a brother-sister relationship: they take care of each other, and she (literally) saves him from himself on more than one occasion.
Donna is also the most “real” of the companions thus far. She starts off as nobody special, a fast-talking, fast-typing temp in Chiswick, but once she and the Doctor start travelling together, she becomes very Important - if the Doctor hadn’t met Donna at such a crucial moment, the world would have ended a lot sooner. And sure, Rose looked into the TARDIS (and the TARDIS looked into her), but did she regenerate a whole new Doctor out of a severed hand? And then absorb some of his energy and become a half-Time Lord, half-human hybrid due to an instantaneous biological metacrisis? NO, I DON’T THINK SHE DID. Even after Rose and the Doctor were separated, she still had her memories of their time together (don’t even get me started on the clone). But Donna? Poor Donna ended up with her memory wiped, and regressed back into her former superficial self in a truly devastating scene that makes me sad every time I think about it.
I would also like to say that I enjoy how Catherine Tate is a busty redhead whereas the Doctor’s previous two companions were tres petite. Thanks for giving us pear-shaped girls hope that we too can travel with the Doctor.
In the end, Donna Noble was a truly well-rounded character who deserved every magical adventure she had with the Doctor. If only she could remember them.