Is Enough Being Done for the 50th Special?

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Guest contributor Samuel Brown examines the evidence so far.

On May 1st, Doctor Who Magazine announced that David Tennant would be the only Doctor to return in the 50th anniversary. This of course got fans old and new into a fit: the old fans being disappointed that no classic Doctor was returning, and the new fans being disappointed that Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston would not be making a reappearance (Though this was already confirmed at the time). So, we must ask the question, is enough being done to celebrate this momentous occasion? Well, to work that out we have to work through a number of aspects:

The Doctor

-doctor-who-50th-anniversary-special-tennant-smithYeah, this is obviously rather high up on the list due to the fact that he is the star of the show.

It has already been confirmed by the BBC that David Tennant, who previously played the Tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010, would be returning. So far then, that’s 2/11 Doctors who are reappearing in the special.

Unfortunately, he may be the only Doctor coming back. As previously stated, Doctor Who Magazine has confirmed that no other classic Doctors will be returning for the show. We also knew prior to this news that Christopher Eccleston turned down the chance to come back. These reports could be thought of as just bluffs to get people more interested in the 50th, but right now we must assume these are genuine.

So, we must ask ourselves, is that enough? Are two Doctors making an appearance in the special that big a deal?

… No, not really. I mean, David coming back is a very nice treat, but it’s hardly out of the ordinary. In the classic story “The Two Doctors”, the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, appeared onscreen with then Doctor, Colin Baker. Jamie, the Second Doctor’s companion, also appeared with the Sixth Doctor’s companion Peri. It wasn’t even for a big, anniversary event. It was just a normal story with some returning characters.

five-doctors-collectormania-2012Like I said, having a returning Doctor is a nice treat, but just putting one Doctor in an episode isn’t really enough to make it special. All I will say is, I REALLY hope the reports that none of the previous Doctors will be returning are just bluffs or clever ruses. I know three of the actors to play the Doctor have passed away, but by using digital technology or maybe even replacing the actors, it is theoretically possible to bring them back. And I know the other actors to play the Doctor have aged and don’t look too much like they did when they played the role, but they got over that problem in Time Crash, right? It wasn’t explained very well but I don’t think fans will care about that too much. As long as the Doctors appear, not many people will give a damn.

The Companions

rose-tennant-series-2Now where would our beloved main character be without the companions of the show? Depending on your definition of a companion, there have been approximately 51 companions of The Doctor (counting the one off or short-lived companions).

Now, it has already been confirmed that Billie Piper will be returning as 
Rose Tyler for the special. Like I said for “The Doctor” section, it’s a nice treat, but nothing special.

HOWEVER, I do have much more hope for returning companions than returning Doctors… [Filming spoilers begin…] Pictures of Coal Hill School have been spotted during the 50th anniversary filming, helping the rumours that Ian Chesterton and Susan Foreman will be returning for the 50th, which, if they do, would easily win over the “Companions” section for this article, because those are THE first companions ever. That would be a brilliant call back to the first ever episodes and be a really awesome fan service, even if it were just cameos. Obviously, Barbara won’t be reappearing, or at least the actress Jacqueline Hill won’t be, due to her untimely passing in 1993, but I still have hope for William Russell and Carole Ann Ford coming back. […Filming spoilers end]

To be honest, any companion returning would be great, as long as it’s not just the new-series companions (though fingers crossed for Donna).

The Enemies

zygons-50th-anniversaryYeah, you saw this one coming.

It’s been confirmed that The Zygons are returning, and further rumours suggest that the Daleks, Cybermen, and other aliens are going to come back.

In my personal opinion, this is the only area that actually should follow Moffat’s philosophy of “It’s not about looking back, it’s about looking forward.” Many of the Doctor Who enemies, particularly the Daleks and the Cybermen, have been used so many times now that their appearances have lost any effect. So, for this reason, I actually hope Moffat introduces a new, creative villain for the 50th without relying too heavily on previous enemies. I realise that if he didn’t at least give the Daleks and Cybermen a cameo then the entire fan-base would be up in arms, but please make their involvement as minimal as possible.

Though, I’m actually interested how Steven is going to write the Zygons: My theory is that the Zygon will only appear for a few minutes, if not, seconds, as a way to introduce the Tenth Doctor and Rose (i.e, they fight the Zygon, in the same manner as they fought the Hoix in “Love and Monsters”, leading to The Eleventh Doctor finding them).

Recurring Characters

Doctor Who has made a lot of famous recurring characters in its 50 year run, one of the most popular of which are Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Captain Jack Harkness, and both of which have gotten quite a lot of interesting news regarding the 50th.

Jemma-Redgrave-Kate-Stewart-clara-jenna-50th-filming-day-7Nicholas Courtney, the actor who played the Brig, passed away in 2011, so a reappearance by him can’t be possible; however, the characters daughter, Kate Stewart, has been confirmed to be reappearing in the special. Now, when I first heard this news, I didn’t know how to react, but now I feel like this is fantastic news. How better to honour Courtney than to put a character heavily related to his role?

John Barrowman has now confirmed that he isn’t going to be appearing in the special. Like many fans, I’m devastated by this news as he is an amazing character and I really, really, REALLY want him to have a scene talking with River (imagine the possibilities!). But hey, we can’t have every great recurring character back.

sja-ep5-wedding (3)However, something I want more than anything is for Luke from The Sarah Jane Adventures to appear, for even a short cameo. You’re probably thinking “Wait, Sarah Jane’s adoptive kid? Why? He’s only ever appeared in one Doctor Who story before [“The Stolen Earth/Journeys End”], why would you want HIM in the special?”

Think of it: Nicholas Courtney is getting his part in the 50th with Kate Stewart keeping the memory of his character alive, and with Elisabeth Sladen’s untimely passing two years ago, think of how much that would mean to people who love and miss her even to this day. I know it would mean the world to me, and I’m sure it would to other fans.


In conclusion, it’s hard really to judge a story when you haven’t seen it and know near-to-nothing about the plot, but so far, with what we do know, it doesn’t seem like Steven Moffat is taking all the possibilities into account. I mean, I sympathise with his situation; he has to write a script for Doctor Who, one of the most famous and ground-breaking shows ever made, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and he has to try to please every fan as best he can. But from what we know so far, it appears as though he’s celebrating the new series more than the old.

Is enough being done for the 50th? In my opinion: no. At least that’s what it seems to look like right now.

I can tell a lot of people are going to disagree with what I said, or say that I shouldn’t judge the story before I watch it, but this is just my opinion with what we know so far. Please don’t try to lose your mind over it.

So anyway, you’ve heard me babble on, now it’s time for your guy’s opinion: Out of ten, is this shaping up to be a good anniversary special or not? Ten being “Woo-hoo!”, and one being “AHHHH!”