The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode The Day Of The Doctor stands as the best anniversary serial since The Three Doctors in 1973, and a creative tent pole for the Steven Moffat era of the revived TV show. In it, we saw a good many Doctors, both new and old. David Tennant returned to join Matt Smith on an adventure with John Hurt’s War Doctor to clarify much of what occurred in the period between Classic Doctor Who and the birth of the modern series. Along the way, we got some great surprises: Tom Baker returning to the show for the first time since 1981, Paul McGann getting some tantalizingly good official BBC screen time showing the Eight Doctor’s final moments in The Night of the Doctor, and all the Doctors, both Classic and new, appearing at the episode’s climax.
Fans were also left with a question: why was Christopher Eccleston‘s image used along with the other Doctors to save the planet Gallifrey but not used during the War Doctor’s regeneration sequence just a few minutes later? Eccleston’s non-participation in The Day Of The Doctor was long known, and respectfully handled by both Eccleston and show runner Steven Moffat in the press. Yet, the choice to use his face in one place but not the other seemed curious.
Continue reading to see what Moffat had to say about the decision.
Moffat now says it is that respect for Eccleston and his contribution to the show that motivated the choice. Responding to reader questions in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat recently said:
“It was one thing to include [him] among all the other archive Doctors, as they flew in to save the day. In fact, it would have been disgraceful to have left anyone out – but placing him in that scene might have given the impression he’d actually turned up for filming, which would have been crossing the line… not taking part in the 50th was a difficult decision for Chris, taken after a lot of thought and with great courtesy, and not respecting his wishes would have been grossly unprofessional and disrespectful to a good man and a great Doctor.”
Though Eccleston’s association with Doctor Who has been minimal since Series 1 in 2005, his contributions to the revival of Doctor Who were significant and for that all Whovians are in his debt. As Moffat also noted, “Number nine may not have turned up for the celebrations, but there would have been no party without him.”
Though it is a shame that he could not be more present for the 50th Anniversary, it is nice to see him treated with a little class.