Could The Eleven Doctors Have Been Achieved Without Overcrowding?
Guest contributor Liam Sewell investigates.
Before beginning, let’s look at what we’re out to achieve in this article. I shall investigate whether or not the production team could have included all the surviving previous Doctor actors for the fiftieth anniversary special without overcrowding the TARDIS. To do this fairly we shall limit the number of Doctors we have to three, to match the actual fiftieth. Unfortunately we must discount Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee from the list for obvious reasons, but we can come back to that later.
First, let’s look at Tom Baker. Now obviously Tom did appear in the fiftieth and his portrayal of the mysterious ‘Curator’ was an intriguing highlight to many fans. However there are alternative ways we could have incorporated Tom Baker. The first was as Xerophyte Meglos, last survivor of the Zolfa-Thurans. Let’s say Meglos somehow survived the destruction of his planet and found a way to take the form of the Doctor once more… Stranger things have happened in space. Alternatively what if the crazed computer Xoanan made a return baring the face of the Doctor? The machine was left on, who’s to say there’s no chance of a return to the planet of invisible monsters?
How about Peter Davison? Some would argue the most eager to make a return, or at least the most eager to appear in the fiftieth. For Peter, the call could be to portray the main villain of the feature and mark the long awaited return of Omega. When we last saw Omega he wore the Doctor’s face, although unstable and deteriorating. If he could have some way survived then Omega could have rectified the flaws and controlled fully the Doctor’s body.
For Colin Baker the answer is obvious, a return from Omega could always have been followed by a return from Gallifrey and who would be best suited as president during the war to end all wars? Rassilon apparently, but after his demise is it not possible that the post could be taken up by the mighty warrior and ruthless soldier Commander Maxil? When tweeted by a fan asking whether not he’d like to take up the role of Maxil once more, Colin responded with “try and stop me!” Proving he’s very eager to return, even if not as the Doctor.
Unfortunately when it comes to Sylvester, aside from inventing a new character or developing some complex plot revolving around his mysterious revelations that never came into fruition, there isn’t anything other than bringing him in as the Doctor that we can do. So there’s strike one on the list, our first actor actually playing the Doctor.
Next we have Paul McGann, and yet again we hit a brick wall. I’m sure there’s something amongst the audio adventures we could use to resurrect McGann, but for the meantime- and I think what we’d all prefer to see- McGann can be playing the Doctor for the duration of the special.
With Eccleston, there’s a requirement of imagination, as much as we’d like to have Eccleston play the Doctor after such a short time in the role, we don’t want to break our limit too soon. For now let’s say there is an Auton doppelgänger running around pretending to be the Doctor. We all know Eccleston would have likely turned down a return (well, he did) but we can still dream.
In a deleted scene from Journey’s End, the ‘Metacrisis’ Doctor was given a piece of the TARDIS which was to grow and become a fully functioning one. In a moment i’ll theorise a possible plot for this adventure and explain why he would get into this dimension. Some might say this is a cheat, as he is in essence the Doctor, but we shall not regard him as such on the basis he never served a term.
Finally we reach Matt Smith, and we have a single strike left. The logical thing to do would be to let the current Doctor at the time play the main Doctor, and so we shall. Unfortunately this means we wouldn’t get the fantastic John Hurt ‘War’ Doctor, which would be a shame as I felt that was a brilliant game changer from Moffat but in these circumstances the call for him just isn’t there.
Before I theorise a synopsis for this special let’s take a look at what could have done with Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee. The obvious choices would be to cast David Bradley, David Troughon and Sean Pertwee, but who would they play? Further Auton duplicates perhaps? Especially in the case of Pertwee. For Troughton the obvious choice would be Salamander, we know very little about what happened to him after he flew out the bottom of the TARDIS. Hartnell supposedly had countless adventures we don’t know about so it’s difficult; all I seem to recall is his robot double in The Chase, but it’s really quite open ended with him.
So there we have it, all of the Doctors back in the show using only three actual Doctors. How would this work out? Let’s suppose Gallifrey, led by Commander Maxil, somehow breaks free of its bonds and starts to return. Omega, floating around the antimatter universe, rides off the back of it and makes it into our world teaming up with the Nestene’s and for some reason Meglos (and possibly Salamander) coming after the Doctor for good old fashioned revenge. With the boundaries between dimensions weakened, the ‘Metacrisis’ Doctor would be able to fly into our dimension to lend a hand. Why 3 Doctors? 3 villains to split up and chase them, inadvertently leading them to each other.
To end the special, what could make things worse for the Eleventh Doctor than being struck down and regenerating into Michael Jayston (or John Hurt if we really wanted to include him) at the climax of the piece fulfilling the Master’s prophecy of the Valeyard being ‘Somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation.’ Maybe there was a mystical Time Lord thing and the Doctor would split into two, the Valeyard and Capaldi. Perhaps the Valeyard could have arisen from the fallen eleventh and Matt Smith could have still waited until the 50th to regenerate? Who knows, perhaps the Valeyard can wait as between twelfth and the final doesn’t necessarily mean the thirteenth.
All that remains now is to discuss whether or not this would have worked? For classic fans, so many throwbacks would have been a dream come true, but to the contemporary target market all these references could be nothing more than an inside joke that they simply don’t get. Aside from that, there’s still a lot going on, far too much for an hour and a half and it would either have come out rushed or just plain poor. I personally feel the fiftieth celebration we received was perfect. However I do feel the lack of appearance from the past Doctors let it down, especially considering most were on set at one point leading up to the special. Would it have been too hard to film a few seconds of switch flicking for the saving of Gallifrey scene?
In conclusion, what we’ve discovered here is not what could have been done with the fiftieth, but what they could do in future with the Doctor actors of old. The doors are still open, all we need now is the right writer to let them step through…