Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary special, The Day of The Doctor was one of the better TV celebrations in recent memory, but according to showrunner Stephen Moffat, it was nearly one of the biggest TV embarrassments in history.
In an interview with Radio Times, Moffat revealed how bleak the special could have been.
The problem with the special was that actors kept pulling out. Christopher Eccleston officially said he was out after saying no to Moffat’s face, David Tennant was on the fence and Matt Smith was out of his contract and on his way out of the franchise.
At one point it got so bad that Moffat wrote a script that featured the only actor they had under contract at the time: Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. The script featured no Doctors at all, and with weeks before shooting was meant to start, Moffat was sitting in the corner of his office panicking.
The tale of Day of The Doctor was darkest before the dawn, however: actors eventually signed on and a script was rushed through. John Hurt — who signed on to play The War Doctor — said that he got the script on the Friday and was on set by the following Monday. Moffat said that Hurt made a bit of an exaggeration, but it wasn’t far off.
So as you rewatch Day Of The Doctor on the anniversary each year (be honest, you totally do it), think of how bad it could have been with no Doctors in it at all. [io9]
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