While his final series/season has yet to be shown (or even shot), it’s already cemented that Steven Moffat has left an indelible mark on the history of Doctor Who. And though he produced some wonderful stories between his beginnings as showrunner with Matt Smith and his past two years with Peter Capaldi, many (including myself) believe Moffat’s crowning achievement happened on November 23, 2013, when the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” aired. It’s such a glorious celebration of what the series is, was, and ever shall be. And he managed to do it with only two of the three Doctors he expected to have on board. and one he had to fabricate entirely for the special to work.
Moffat did indeed approach Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston to be in the special alongside fellow Doctors Smith and David Tennant. When the deal didn’t take, Moffat had to create the role and backstory of the War Doctor, which was played by the legend that is John Hurt.
What’s maybe more surprising is just how far the plans had gone by time word was given as to Eccleston’s noninvolvement. Comic creator, animator, and storyboard creator Andrew Wildman worked on the show for most of Matt Smith’s final year as the Doctor, and got to do storyboards for “The Day of the Doctor.” Wildman has compiled into a book, which he has sold at ComicCons along with a separate collection of boards about “Nightmare in Silver.” (I know which episode turned out the best.)
According to Wildman’s art, Eccleston’s replacement with the War Doctor resulted in a string of separate changes. First, The Moment was not originally meant to be played by Billie Piper. No, instead she took the form of a young girl, perhaps to signify all the children who’d die because of the Time War ending, which is discussed in the episode. On top of that change, it would appear it was the Ninth Doctor who would have gone back and had the initial interactions with Tenant’s Tenth and his pair of Queen Elizabeths the Firsts, leaving what we can only assume is the Eleventh Doctor to pop in later on. You can check out a small gallery of these storyboards below…
While it might have been nice to have Eccleston involved, allowing the whole history of the Time War to happen much more neatly, I think Moffat and company did a fabulous job in producing “The Day of the Doctor.” And, like, can you imagine the Whoniverse without John Hurt? I can’t!
Let me know your thoughts on the storyboards and on the woulda-been-cool version of the 50th anniversary special below!
HT: Bleeding Cool
Images: BBC/Andrew Wildman
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor, a film and TV critic, and the resident Whovian for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!