Why Did Donna Noble Lose Her Money on Doctor Who?

Summary

  • When the Doctor last saw Donna Noble, he left her with a very valuable parting gift.
  • Donna is back in the Doctor’s life, but the Doctor is surprised to see she’s not as well off as he’d expected.
  • “The Star Beast” has the perfect explanation for Donna no longer having her money.


The following contains spoilers for Doctor Who, “The Star Beast,” now streaming on Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

Doctor Who is celebrating its 60th anniversary with the return of David Tennant and Catherine Tate as the Doctor and Donna Noble. The duo last led the sci-fi series all the way back in 2008, when Tennant was appearing as the Tenth Doctor during Season 4. After they parted ways at the end of the season, the Doctor was tragically forced to erase Donna’s memories, and was only able to visit his friend just one more time. The Tenth Doctor’s final story, “The End of Time,” saw him watching over Donna from afar on her wedding day, leaving a wedding present with her mother and grandfather.

Now, Tennant is back as the Fourteenth Doctor in his first full-length outing in the TARDIS in “The Star Beast.” As depicted in the 60th Anniversary special, the Fourteenth Doctor finds himself crossing paths with Donna Noble once more. Despite the fact that remembering her time on the TARDIS would endanger Donna’s life, the Doctor still finds himself caught up in an adventure with Donna’s family. He is quickly struck by the fact that his old friend didn’t seem to have benefited from his final gift in quite the way he had hoped. As the special unfolded, it became clear that there was a perfect reason for Donna giving up her wedding present from the Doctor.


What Was the Doctor’s Last Gift to Donna Noble?

Catherine Tate as Donna Noble on her wedding day in The End of Time on Doctor Who.

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Season 4 of Doctor Who ended with Donna saving all reality after absorbing the Doctor’s Time Lord consciousness. However, it was too much for a human to bear, forcing the Doctor to wipe her mind. Despite his warnings that Donna would die if she ever remembered him, her grandfather, Wilf, asked the Doctor to find a way to restore her memories when the two reunited in “The End of Time.” The Doctor asserted that he couldn’t bring back Donna’s memories without killing her. “The End of Time” then saw the Tenth Doctor taking on Wilf as his companion, while he endured a final encounter with the Master and the Time Lords. Ultimately, it was saving Wilf’s life that cost this incarnation of the Doctor his own.

Dying slowly of radiation poisoning, the Tenth Doctor decided to claim a final reward before facing his demise and regenerating. The Doctor spent the final hours of his tenth life revisiting old companions, watching over them in a series of final gestures, without ever stopping to say a word. He saved Martha Jones and Mickey from a Sontaran attack, set up Captain Jack Harkness with Alonso Frame, checked in on Sarah Jane and Luke Smith, and had a final reunion with Rose Tyler before she ever knew him. The Doctor also made sure to see Donna once more, from a safe distance, turning up on her wedding day to share a private word with Wilf and Donna’s mother, Sylvia.

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The Doctor revealed he had traveled back in time to borrow a pound from Sylvia’s late husband, Geoff Noble, with which he had bought Donna a wedding present. When Sylvia and Wilf handed the envelope the Doctor had given them over to Donna, she opened it to reveal a lottery ticket. While Donna seemed less than impressed with the “cheap” present, Wilf and Sylvia realized the significance of receiving a lottery ticket from a time traveler. Though she was underwhelmed by the lottery ticket as a wedding gift, Donna held onto it, noting that she might get lucky on that week’s triple rollover.

“The End of Time” marked the last time Donna was seen on Doctor Who, until her recent return in “The Star Beast.” This meant that fans were left to wonder about what became of Donna after her life with the Doctor and her highly valuable final gift from him. The first of Doctor Who‘s 60th anniversary specials revealed that Donna was not now a multimillionaire. This was, perhaps, unsurprising given how great a change that would have been to the character. The Doctor discovered that Donna had given away almost all of her lottery winnings to charity, though it took him a while to find out why.

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In “The Star Beast,” the Doctor first learned that Donna had given away her lottery winnings when he got in a taxi driven by her husband, Shaun Temple. Posing as a friend of Donna’s friend Nerys, the Doctor probed Shaun about the lottery ticket he had given Donna as a wedding present. Shaun revealed that the ticket was supposed to be a secret, as Donna had chosen to take only enough money from her winnings to buy a new house for the family, before giving away the rest to charity. This had left her and Shaun struggling to afford to run their new home, prompting the Doctor to wonder why his old friend had not accepted his gift.

To Doctor Who fans, the reasoning behind Donna’s decision may have seemed obvious, but it took the Doctor a while longer to get at the truth. Donna refused to offer up the information when the Doctor first asked about it, but later on in the episode, after being captured by the Meep, the Doctor once again asked Donna why she had given away her money. Donna explained that she had felt compelled to do what she could to help those people in the world who were living “in danger and in pain and fear.” Though she could still not remember the Doctor at this point, she then claimed this “felt like the sort of thing he would do.”

Evidently, despite losing her memory, the Doctor’s influence on Donna remained. This ties in to what Wilf told the Doctor in “The End of Time,” when he said that Donna sometimes seemed as though she was “so sad, but she can’t remember why.” This thread continued into “The Star Beast,” which featured a conversation between Donna and Sylvia that saw Donna tell her mother that, despite everything and everyone in her life, she felt as though something was missing. Her memory of the Doctor may have been erased, but it had evidently left an imprint, with some part of Donna never truly forgetting her travels through time and space. As a result, she continued to try to do good, just as the Doctor would.

The Doctor Left Donna With Some Regrets

Catherine Tate as Donna-Noble looks surprised in the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Special

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Towards the end of “The Star Beast,” with the fate of London hanging in the balance, the Doctor is forced to restore Donna’s memory in order to stop the Meep’s ship. Although Donna ultimately survives thanks to the fact that her Time Lord consciousness is now shared between her and her daughter, Rose, the Doctor is unaware of this when he restores her memories. Believing Donna is going to die, the Doctor becomes emotional as he reawakens her dormant memories, leading to a moment of tense anticipation as Donna’s Time Lord nature is reawakened. Once her memories are restored, Donna’s initial reaction is neither an emotional response to remembering the Doctor, nor an acknowledgment of the immediate threat to London. Instead, she has some gripes about her money.

Upon regaining her memories of the Doctor and the Time Lord intelligence that comes with them, Donna immediately makes it clear that she is not happy about the fact she gave her lottery money away. She quickly pins the blame on the Doctor, recognizing his lingering influence on her mind as a “subconscious infracutaneous retrofold memory loop,” causing her to emulate the Doctor — or, as Donna puts it, “making me act as soft as you, and give away £166 million!” Though it soon becomes clear that Donna is truly happy to have regained her memories and to have been reunited with her friend, her realization of the real motive behind giving away her money clearly leaves her regretting this decision.

Donna’s reaction when she realizes why she gave away her money also serves as an effective reminder that she did not just gain the intellect of any Time Lord — she specifically gained the Doctor’s mind, taking on his particular traits, even when she was unaware she was doing so. The fact that she regretted doing what the Doctor’s consciousness had led her to do also implies a division still existed within her mind between the Doctor and Donna. The two were clearly not acting in perfect harmony with one another. Though it has now been landed with the consequences of the Doctor’s influence, leaving her without her lottery winnings, her reconnection with her time-traveling friend may serve as some consolation.

New episodes of Doctor Who debut Saturdays on Disney+ and BBC iPlayer.

Doctor Who 2005 Poster

Doctor Who

The further adventures in time and space of the alien adventurer known as the Doctor and his companions from planet Earth.

Release Date
March 17, 2006

Cast
Jodie Whittaker, Peter Capaldi, pearl mackie, Matt Smith

Main Genre
Sci-Fi

Genres
Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Rating
TV-PG

Seasons
14

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