I simply cannot wait to see the new THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES story “The Death of the Doctor.” Not just because it will feature Sarah Jane (Elisabeth Sladen) meeting 11th Doctor Matt Smith and former companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning), but because the story will address the issue of how many regenerations the Doctor is allowed.
First of all, it is important to note that the Doctor does not claim he is immortal. Since I am in the USA, I have not yet seen the episode in question, but according to this report, Clyde asks the Doctor how many times he can regenerate, and the Doctor says there is no limit. That’s it. No limit to regenerations. This official lifting of the 12-regeneration limit does not make him immortal. It merely reverts the series to its original position on regeneration, which is that Time Lords can be effectively immortal – if they are lucky. There is no indication that permanent death has been taken off the table: If both of the Doctor’s hearts are destroyed, he cannot regenerate. If he is drowned, he cannot regenerate (that one comes from “Turn Left,” penned by Russell T Davies, who wrote the new SJA episode in question). So, everyone who thinks it’s important for the Doctor to put his life on the line, relax.
In the words of former story editor Douglas Adams, Don’t panic.