There was much speculation in the build up to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, Day Of The Doctor, that Christopher Eccleston would return in a role he’d insisted he’d left behind. As it happened, Steven Moffat wrote the original script with that in mind, with Eccleston ultimately turning the opportunity down, that in turn led to the creation of John Hurt’s The War Doctor.
In a terrific new interview with The Doctor Who Fan Show, Moffat has opened up about that time, and the moment that Eccleston said no.
“Christopher Eccleston said no, and that was awful, that was just awful”, Moffat said. “I was so depressed that day, because I’d written most of the script and he was in it. I didn’t know what to do”.
After considering a few options, he went with the idea of inventing a brand new Doctor. After a wobble – “we can’t change the numbering!” – he pressed ahead, and Hurt landed the role “a really small number of weeks out”. He came in around four weeks beforehand, “and the 50th was saved, thank god”.
The interview can be found here.