Donna Noble is a controversial companion of the Tenth Doctor in the long-running British sci-fi TV series Doctor Who. While many viewers enjoyed Donna’s loud, brash personality, others found her character grating and annoying. In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the reasons why Donna provokes such strong reactions from fans, both positive and negative.
Donna’s Personality and Character Arc
Donna’s Loud and Opinionated Personality
One of the main reasons why some Doctor Who fans dislike Donna is her forceful, opinionated personality. When Donna first appears in the 2006 Christmas special “The Runaway Bride”, she is portrayed as a loud, obnoxious bride who won’t stop talking and bossing the Doctor around. This dynamic continues when Donna officially becomes the Doctor’s companion in season 4.
Donna speaks her mind without filter, often yelling at the Doctor and being dismissive towards him. While some viewers found her sassy attitude refreshing, others simply found her rude, annoying and hard to watch. Her volume andintensity rubbed many viewers the wrong way.
Donna’s Character Growth and Sensitivity
However, as Donna’s time on the TARDIS went on, she underwent significant growth as a character. Although she maintained her strong personality, she became kinder, more empathetic and more sensitive.
Donna showed her capacity for deep friendship and compassion on several occasions. For example, she formed a close maternal bond with Jenny in “The Doctor’s Daughter” and was deeply empathetic to the Ood’s plight in “Planet of the Ood”.
So while Donna was loud and opinionated on the surface, she revealed hidden depths, vulnerability and sensitivity as her character developed. Many fans who initially disliked her grew to appreciate these more nuanced aspects of her personality.
One of the most controversial aspects of Donna’s story is her tragic fate. After absorbing the Doctor’s mind and becoming the “Doctor-Donna” in “Journey’s End”, she has her memories wiped and returns to her old life, essentially undoing all of her character growth throughout season 4.
Many viewers felt this fate was excessively cruel, especially since Donna herself pleaded against having her memories wiped, wanting to remain the person she had become. The melancholy ending tainted Donna’s arc in retrospect for some fans.
Donna’s Relationships with Other Companions
Contrast with Rose Tyler
Donna’s tenure directly followed the hugely popular Rose Tyler, who was beloved for her warmer, more romantic relationship with the Tenth Doctor. Donna had big shoes to fill, and her loud, abrasive manner was a stark contrast to Rose’s gentle compassion.
Some viewers who were still attached to Rose resented what they felt was an inferior replacement in Donna. The shift from romantic tension to platonic friendship was disappointing for fans who enjoyed the Doctor/Rose dynamic.
Interactions with Martha Jones
Donna also had complex relationships with other companions. Her tension with Martha Jones reflected some fans’ perceptions of Martha being unfairly overshadowed by Rose.
When Donna first meets Martha in “The Sontaran Stratagem”, she immediately starts criticizing Martha for “taking Rose’s job” for which Martha calls her out. Some fans felt Donna was rude and dismissive towards Martha. However, they eventually bonded over both pining after seemingly unobtainable men.
Friendship with Wilfred Mott
On the other hand, Donna had an incredibly endearing friendship with her grandfather Wilfred Mott, played by acclaimed actor Bernard Cribbins. Wilf’s gentle humor and guidance humanized Donna and showed her capacity for love.
Many fans who weren’t keen on Donna enjoyed her scenes with Wilf, which highlighted her warmth and vulnerability. Her goodbye to Wilf as her memories were wiped was considered one of the most tragic, emotional moments of new Who.
Perceptions of Sexism Towards Donna
Some viewers believe that the intense dislike towards Donna contains elements of sexism. These fans argue that while the Doctor regularly yells at his companions, aggressive male behavior is more accepted in men. Donna’s abrasiveness crosses societal expectations of how women “should” act.
However, accusations of sexism have been rejected by other fans who simply found Donna genuinely unpleasant to watch regardless of her gender. The debate continues around whether Donna is judged more harshly due to ingrained societal misogyny or whether her personality is legitimately polarizing.
Donna’s Humor and Catchphrases
“Oi!” and Other Repetitive Phrases
Donna had several catchphrases that some viewers considered hilarious while others found massively irritating. Her loud exclamations of “Oi!” and calling the Doctor a “prawn” or “skinny boy” became associated with her character.
However, the constant repetition of these phrases throughout season 4 caused annoyance for some fans. The humor value wore off quickly, making Donna seem one-note and obnoxious rather than funny.
Great Comedic Timing
That being said, Donna was also praised for having fantastic comedic timing in her banter with the Doctor. Fans who liked Donna found her sense of humor hilarious and Catherine Tate’s performance excellent.
Even critics conceded that Tate had impeccable delivery that maximized the laughs in Donna’s scenes. When provided good writing, Donna’s loud personality shone in humorous exchanges rather than seeming overbearing.
Donna’s Impact on the Tenth Doctor
Humanizing the Doctor
An important aspect of Donna’s role was humanizing the increasingly lonely and morally ambiguous Tenth Doctor. After losing Rose, the Doctor was growing ever more arrogant, erratic and extreme.
Donna’s no-nonsense attitude and refusal to treat the Doctor as unquestionable kept him grounded. She challenged him to be his best self, acting as his conscience when he went too far. Their platonic friendship was caring but not worshipful like many relationships were towards the Tenth Doctor.
When Donna became the Doctor-Donna due to a Time Lord biological metacrisis, she proved vital in stopping the Daleks’ reality bomb. The hybrid being exemplified the best attributes of the Doctor and Donna, with the Doctor’s vast knowledge tempered by Donna’s empathy and conscience.
This demonstrated that some viewers’ perceptions of Donna as an “inferior” companion were misguided. She proved just as essential to saving the universe as any other companion.
Despite their tight friendship, some viewers were frustrated that Donna never fell in love with the Doctor, even calling her “the one woman in all of time and space who didn’t fancy him.” This fuelled criticism that she lacked the romantic dimension that made Ten and Rose so compelling.
However, others found the twist refreshing and praised the show for demonstrating that men and women could have purely platonic relationships built on trust and respect.
In conclusion, Donna Noble divides Doctor Who fans due to her brash, loud personality which some find hilarious and others simply unpleasant to watch. She underwent great character growth over her tenure, which was sadly undone by her tragic mind wipe.
Debate continues around whether disliking Donna stems primarily from legitimate writing and acting issues, or whether ingrained societal misogyny unfairly punishes assertive female behavior. But whatever your view, there’s no denying Donna left a huge impression on Doctor Who history.
FAQs about Why People Hate Donna Noble
What are the main reasons viewers dislike Donna Noble?
The main reasons are her loud, obnoxious personality especially early on; her contrast to the beloved Rose Tyler; repetition of catchphrases like “Oi!”; her tragic fate undoing her character growth; and lack of romantic chemistry with the Doctor.
Did fans warm up to Donna over time?
Many fans who initially disliked Donna grew to appreciate her more as she developed, showing vulnerability and compassion. Her relationship with Wilf also made her more endearing. But some viewers maintained a dislike of her throughout.
Is there a sexist element to the Donna hatred?
Potentially yes – some believe she is judged more harshly than male characters for the same behaviors, reflecting societal double standards. But others simply found her personality genuinely grating regardless of gender.
What were Donna’s positive contributions as a companion?
She humanized the increasingly arrogant Doctor, acting as his conscience. Her comedic timing was excellent when given good writing. The DoctorDonna hybrid exemplified the best of both of them.
Do people hate Catherine Tate’s acting or just Donna as a character?
Most criticism is directed at Donna’s personality rather than Catherine Tate’s acting ability. Many praise Tate for perfectly embodying the character as written and maximize the comedy of her scenes.