Moffat reveals his plans (and fears) if Eccleston had returned for Who's 50th

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Dec 16, 2013, 4:16 PM EST

Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston was in talks to be in the 50th-anniversary episode of Doctor Who. It never happened, but here's what was talked about.

When you're a dedicated follower of fashion Doctor Who (or any long-lived science fiction series, for that matter), there's always the desire to fill in all the gaps, leaving no stone left unturned nor any story left untold. The 50th anniversary felt like a perfect opportunity to fill one very important blank -- the Time War and the Doctor's place in it.

At the time, many of us had hoped this would also act as a good excuse to bring back single-series Doctor Christopher Eccleston. Not only would we get to see all modern actors sharing the screen, but we might see how the Doctor became his ninth incarnation.

Sadly, it wasn't to be. And as we'd all assumed, the consideration was that Eccleston's Doctor would have been the War Doctor, rather than John Hurt. Moffat confirmed this while still conceding how unlikely the option was by saying, "Yes, but I was pretty certain Chris wouldn’t do it, although he did agree to a couple of meetings."

So, yes. It was exactly what we thought, but what's more interesting is why Moffat wasn't terribly bothered by the missed opportunity. In fact, it seems he was never truly sold on the idea that Eccleston ending the Time War even made sense. you know, I was always nervous of that one, because it doesn’t fit with [1st episode of 2005's] Rose at all. Eccleston is a brand new Doctor in Rose, he’s absolutely, definitely new. It couldn’t have been is who pushed the button in the Time War, cos that’s a new man, very explicitly, in that episode. 

Moffat also confessed he had a hard time "imagining it being Paul McGann’s Doctor."

In the end there was, to Moffat's mind, one best answer.

So all of this led me to the idea that if you’re going to sell to the Not-We audience a Doctor who essentially they haven’t seen before, then you have a freer hand than saying it has to be one of the ones you’ve already had. And it was predicated in getting an enormous star to be able to do it. We got John Hurt, so that was cool! Think of the fuss it’s created for us!

And while a full regeneration scene would have been nice, we confess that John Hurt was, in many ways, the best thing about that 50th special.

But never mind us -- what do you think? All's well that end's well? Or do you still think Eccleston should have said yes?

(via Doctor Who Hub)