Oh, what might have been. Any self-respecting Doctor Who fan will know that show-runner Steven Moffat always wanted the ninth incarnation and first out of the (blue) box of Nu-Who Christopher Eccleston to reprise the role in the 50th anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor. Now it looks like Moffat was more confident than previously thought with storyboards for Eccleston‘s involvement recently surfacing across the interwebs.
When the BBC announced in 2005 that they were bringing back Doctor Who after a sixteen year hiatus, fans rejoiced and critics immediately started sounding it’s death knell. The one fact that everyone was in agreement with however was the casting of Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor. Here was a highly respected, serious thespian with real acting chops; however Nu-Who turned out, at least the Time Lord would be interesting. An immediate hit with the viewers and those critics alike, Eccleston’s interpretation of the mad man in the blue box was lauded by everyone and can be credited with a great deal of the success of a show that was, rightly or wrongly, judged up until it’s reboot on the poor quality and low viewing figures of it’s original dying days in 1989. His swift departure at the end of the first series has always left viewers wishing they’d seen more of his Doctor. Now it seems that hopes of a return in the 50th anniversary were high enough as to have some of his scenes storyboarded.
Andrew Wildman is a sickenly talented artist, producer and animator who had previously worked on ‘Who episodes such as ‘Nightmare in Silver’ and ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’. Brought in at the early planning stages for the 50th anniversary episode by Moffat, he produced a number of sketches from a script that look very familiar indeed, albeit with a different Doctor.
Yep, that’s 9 looking at then jumping through the time vortex, landing in a forest to confront 10 and two Queen Elizabeths. These scenes are fully present and correct in the filmed show, just with Matt Smith‘s Doctor instead. The opening scenes of Clara motorbiking directly into the TARDIS are also here, except Clara pulls a wheelie.
Bleeding Cool had a word with Andrew at Geek Comic Con recently:
“There were going to be three Doctors in this one. The current, 11th Doctor and the previous two. Ok, so it didn’t quite work out that way in the end as we all know. Contracts are an odd thing and in the end show runner and writer supreme, Steven Moffat, had to come up with something… slightly different. At my time of working on the show however it was the three ‘modern age’ Doctors and the current assistant, Clara.”
Ultimately, The Day of the Doctor was re-tooled with the introduction of the ‘secret regeneration’ War Doctor, played by a very good up-and-coming young actor called John Hurt. We predict big things for him. The show was a huge success and satiated the fans need for a multiple Doctor story just fine, especially with Tom Baker showing up as The Curator (Is he? Isn’t he??). But the release of these images will also get a lot of Whovians asking, “What if? WHAT IF????!!!”. Eccleston has always kept pretty quiet about his reasons for leaving; the furthest he’s gone is last year when he commented:
“Myself and three individuals at the very top of the pyramid clashed so off I went. But they’re not here to say their side of it so I’m not going into detail.”
He doesn’t respond well to any Doctor Who related queries in interviews, won’t attend conventions and you’ll never hear him on any Big Finish audio stories either. It’s a shame but also perhaps a wonderful example of the actor’s maxim of always leave them wanting more.
The War Doctor did, of course, start to regenerate into the 2005-era Time Lord at the end of the episode, just stopping short before a full reveal. Moffat has explained that as Eccleston wasn’t there, it wouldn’t have been right to have shown the full regneration.
Luckily there’s a whole internet to sort that out: