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Moffat Had a Place For Eccleston in ‘Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor’


Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor not only celebrated the BBC franchise’s 50th anniversary, but also brought past Doctor actors together in a way that hadn’t been done in years, with David Tennant and Matt Smith showing up alongside a new character referred to as War Doctor, played by John Hurt.

But, according to Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat, there was space for Christopher Eccleston, who helped resurrect the show in 2005. According to Doctor Who TV, Moffat says in Doctor Who Magazine #468 that the War Doctor role would have gone to Eccleston if he’d been interested.

“But I was pretty certain Chris wouldn’t do it, although he did agree to a couple of meetings,” he says. “So instead we had the challenge and excitement of introducing a BBC audience to a brand new Doctor.” He adds that the Ninth Doctor would have hit the button, but he had concerns. “I was always nervous of that one, because it doesn’t fit with [2005’s debut episode] ‘Rose’ at all.”

“[Eccleston] is a brand-new Doctor in ‘Rose,’ he’s absolutely, definitely new,” he continues. “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. I also had trouble, I have to be honest, imagining it being Paul McGann’s Doctor.

“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!”

If you missed Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor when it aired, you can check it out on DVD and Blu-ray now.


  • nailsin

    It should’ve been McGann.

  • Statham

    Eccleston’s half of the story is that he basically called BS on Moffatt basically wanting to remove the thing that had defined the Doctor since the 2005 revival. That was the core of Eccleston’s performance as the character. THAT was why he didn’t want to take part. Moffatt can dress it up any way he likes, but his time on this show as a showrunner has been terrible.

  • AirDave

    I’m new to Doctor Who. I started with Eccleston. I enjoyed that first season. I’ve enjoyed it since. I understand him not coming back, but still, it would have been cool if he could.

  • Jonathan Alan

    The War Doctor could have been Mcgann, but not Eccleston. Like he points out about the episode “Rose,” Eccleston’s freshly regenerated per the ear commentary in Rose’s apartment. So really, it could only be Mcgann or someone new. John Hurt was perfect. ;)

  • Nicolas Mailloux

    eccleston was not newly regenerated in Rose because when Rose went to the conspiracy theorists basement he had pictures of eccleston’s doctor in unfilmed adventures including the titanic and the jfk assasination and evidence of the doctor in the past does not appear until the doctor has experienced it in his own present.

  • Lyle

    Yes, but you forget the timey whimey effect. She could have been looking at pictures of things he chronologically did years after meeting Rose. I also took it as that, when the Doctor regenerates, the universe throughout all of time recognizes the present Doctor as the only one that existed for us.

  • Brian

    I’ve always assumed that those images “happened” in those few seconds (Rose’s relative time) that the TARDIS vanished) at the end of the episode before returning for her. Who’s to say (no pun intended) that Nine didn’t pop around a few other spots before coming back — checking out the old girl after the chaos of the Time War — before coming back to right after he left to pick her up?

  • Statham

    But Rose was pretty much always with him from his first episode right up until he regenerated. If he’d done those things with her, why isn’t she in those pictures? He went off, did those things beforehand, presumably because he needed to try and deal with what he’d done before taking on a new companion.

  • Woohooboy

    Eccleston really needs to build a bridge and get over it. He was asked back, he declined and as such has distanced himself from anything DW related. He could have been the better/bigger man, accepted the offer and join in on the festivities and had fun but no.

    Every other actor that has played the role has had a hand in the 50th anniversary celebrations except Eccleston. Disappointed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about him. Annoyed and irritated by his “diva” like attitude would be a far more accurate description. In the end, it really was his lost as the special was an absolutely huge success for the show and everyone who participated.