David Tennant has surprised Doctor Who fans by reprising his role as the Time Lord – with the actor due to appear in three special episodes before handing over control of the Tardis next Christmas.

Jodie Whittaker 13th Lord of time reincarnated as Tennant in the dramatic finale to the BBC’s centenary special of the show.

It was previously announced that the Scottish actor, who first stepped into the Tardis in 2005 to play the 10th Doctor, will return to the sci-fi series in celebration of the series’ 60th anniversary.

Following Sunday’s 90-minute special, the BBC confirmed that Tennant will become the 14th incarnation with Catherine Tate reprising her role as his former companion Donna Noble in three special series, which will air in November 2023.

Nkuti Gatwa will then take control of the Tardis as the 15th Doctor, and his first episode is due to air during the 2023 holiday season.

Returning showrunner Russell T Davies said: “If you thought David Tennant’s appearance was a shocker, we have a lot more surprises to come.

“The path to the 15th Doctor Nkuti is full of mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun.

“And how does this relate to the return of the lovely Donna Noble? How, what, why? We give you a year to think, and then everything is free.”

Whittaker’s latest venture how the Doctor was filled with drama as he saw her fight for her existence against some of her mortal enemies: the Master, the Daleks and the Cybermen.

This also led to her ending up in a suspended world where she encountered former incarnations of the Doctor who give her advice.

Nkuti Gatwa will be the 15th Doctor

They include Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Paul McGann and actor David Bradley, who played the first doctor William Hartnell, as well as Sylvester McCoy.

Following the episode, a teaser trailer aired for the 60th anniversary special, featuring Tennant and Tate facing off against a deadly nemesis played by Neil Patrick Harris, and a sneak peek at Gatva’s 15th Doctor.

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Whitaker, 40, became the first woman to play the Doctor when she took on Peter Capaldi’s role in 2017.

Showrunner Chris Chibnall is also set to leave the programme, to be replaced by Davies, who was behind the show’s 2005 revival.