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What if… the Ninth Doctor was the War Doctor?

Guest contributor Will Stanford examines what might have happened with the 2013 specials if Eccleston had returned.

war-doctor-eccleston-regeneration-extended

I’ll happily admit that between May and December of 2013 I went through a period of adamant fan-insistence, telling anyone who’d listen that there was no way John Hurt’s role in The Day of the Doctor was borne purely from Christopher Eccleston declining to appear. “Don’t be so cynical!” I’d say, “This is what Moffat’s been building up to all along – a secret Doctor! How would that possibly work with someone we’d already seen?” Alas, I had to eat my words late last year when the aforementioned Moffat confirmed to Doctor Who Magazine that Eccleston would indeed have taken the War Doctor’s role in the anniversary special had he agreed to appear. But nevertheless, how would that possibly work with someone we’d already seen? Despite only appearing in one-and-a-bit episodes, the War Doctor’s existence hits Doctor Who’s 2013 output like a stone in a pond (a pond without any ducks, of course), sending ripples back through series 7B and forward across the 50th anniversary celebrations and into Matt Smith’s Christmas departure. So what would have happened to the surrounding episodes if Eccleston had shocked everyone and agreed to take part? Cue speculation…

“The Doctor has a secret…”

john-hurt-doctor-who-name-of-the-doctor-backMost of The Name of the Doctor would work just fine without John Hurt turning round in its last moment. The Great Intelligence’s plan may have led to the War Doctor being uncovered, but the latter doesn’t hold any direct connection to the undoing of the Doctor’s victories that ensued in the episode. But putting the episode’s primary plot aside, the key dialogue allusions throughout the episode seem irrevocably tied up with the War Doctor. The entire story is instigated by a single line: “the Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave, and it is discovered”. The very satisfying rug-pull of the discovery being the Doctor’s grave, not his secret, may untie the War Doctor from the Great Intelligence plot, but it also further entrenches him in everything else.

With the Doctor’s secret, and the reasons for his name being hidden, revealed as only incidental to the Great Intelligence’s plan, there had to be a pretty damn good pay-off for what they actually were. Personally, and I’d hope most would agree, I’d say that “Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor” more than fulfilled that criteria; “Re-introducing Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor from a few years back”, however, would not have had anywhere near the same impact. Fair enough, Clara may not have seen the Ninth before, and the initial feeling from the audience would probably be sky-high excitement just the same, but once the euphoria wore of it would have made no sense: how could the Ninth Doctor be a secret Doctor? Rose knew him personally, of course, but he was in no way hidden away even after she left; a certain distinctive Northern face found its way into John Smith’s Journal of Impossible Things, and was happily shown off to Jackson Lake, Rosita, Amy, Rory, the Atraxi and Craig Owens at various points over the years. Hardly hidden away in the sub-subconscious, is it?

So what would the alternative be? The only way I can imagine it working is to remove the notion of a secret altogether. Thus: a different title, no pre-broadcast “they’re going to tell us his name” fun, no “his secret revealed” tag-line, a much less intriguing message from Clarence (“The Doctor’s grave has been discovered on Trenzalore, go there now” perhaps?), and a totally different ending. I’m thinking the Ninth Doctor appearing in the time stream as a direct appeal for help in his darkest Moment-pressing moment, echoing through his history. Despite the losses in The Name of the Doctor itself, this ending could have created a tighter link between Name and Day and, story-wise, a more immediate cliffhanger – and less of a coincidence when the War Doctor crops up again the very next episode. However, I don’t think anyone fan of the show would want it to lose the sheer amount of publicity and interest generated by the mystery of Hurt’s Doctor.

“I don’t suppose there’s any need for a Doctor any more…”

john-hurt-night-of-the-doctorThe Night of the Doctor was fan-pleasing to the extreme, and I don’t think it’s controversial to say that was down to Paul McGann’s appearance more than the revelation of the War Doctor’s origin. On the face of it, therefore, having McGann regenerate into Eccleston here wouldn’t have made much difference (and may have even allowed for a slightly fuller appearance from the new Doctor). But I don’t think The Night of the Doctor could have played out as it did at all if it was to feature the Ninth Doctor. Ask yourself, would you have been happy with the idea of the Doctor in series 1 having been specifically chosen as a warrior, and not as the Doctor? Would it ring true that Rose could fix him to such an extent that he won’t even kill the Daleks in The Parting of the Ways, if this was his genesis? It just wouldn’t have fit. The Ninth Doctor would have had to have a natural beginning within the war as we’d assumed for all those years, and so the Eighth would have been right in the thick of the action. It would still have been wonderful to see Paul in the role again, but The Night of the Doctor would have lost that element of filling in the last piece of the puzzle – it would just have been telling us what we already knew, and would feel far less necessary to the fiftieth narrative as a result.

“Are we forgetting Captain Grumpy?”

time-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(23) smithIn my mind, however, the biggest difference in the parallel universe where Christopher Eccleston agreed to return to Who is in Matt Smith’s exit. Quite simply, the Eleventh Doctor would not have been on his last regeneration had the War Doctor not been introduced. So how on Earth/Trenzalore/Gallifrey would The Time of the Doctor have worked? There’s a couple of possibilities. Perhaps Trenzalore stops being the Doctor’s final resting place, and is just the scene of a climactic battle. But hold on, doesn’t that break the plot of The Name of the Doctor entirely? So maybe Matt would get an alternative swan-song that ties up the crack in time narrative and so-on, with Trenzalore tucked away for Capaldi’s last episode? But that seems equally unlikely, when we were told way back in 2011 that Trenzalore signified “the fall of the Eleventh”.

It’s also pretty unlikely that Moffat can be sure of outlasting Capaldi’s time as the Doctor; if he were to leave the Trenzalore story open when stepping down, it would rather restrict any incoming showrunner’s own ideas. So I have to return to the breaking of The Name of the Doctor point. Not only does the secret have to be removed with the Ninth figuring, so too does the core plot of the Great Intelligence’s plan! Other than the general foreshadowing of the Trenzalore setting, I can’t see anything else that could remain of series 7’s finale without the War Doctor. Unless, that is, the events of The Day of the Doctor encourage the Eleventh to head to Trenzalore before his time, in order to pre-empt and avert his final death down the line – sacrificing his current life in the process (which were my initial thoughts before the Eleventh being his final life was confirmed). That could have worked, but it would have changed the climactic scenes of The Time of the Doctor completely and in all probability left the Twelfth Doctor with the issue of gaining a new regeneration cycle hanging over him.

“I never forget a face”

Before concluding, I should confirm that I am a massive fan of Christopher Eccleston. I started watching Doctor Who in 2005, and before Matt Smith came along I was sure that he’d always be my favourite Doctor. Series 1 is very special, but it’s also complete. I would never complain if Chris came back to Who one day, far from it, but does it need to happen? Is he letting anyone down by declining a reappearance? No. When Chris took the job, he owed us nothing more than the thirteen episodes he signed up for – and he more than delivered with them.

I believe also that, when looking at how different 2013 would have been with Chris on board, that it’s all worked out for the best. Matt Smith’s final three episodes would take on a totally different character had the Ninth returned and, now it’s all happened with John Hurt on board and the Doctor gaining a new set of regenerations, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re not going to see him again, not with that daft old face, but it’s OK, it’s good, as long as we remember all the people that he used to be. We will never forget when he was the Doctor.

Step back in time...

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161 comments
DAVidROS
DAVidROS

Interesting idea of having Christopher Eccleston play the “War Doctor” But, why couldn’t Paul McGann play that part? He’d even have aged appropriately since his single outing as the doctor! In my opinion, the whole concept of an “extra doctor” is just another example of Steven Moffat changing Doctor Who because he can. Please come Back Russell T Davies!

Doctor What and Where
Doctor What and Where

OK, lets talk about an actual alternative that makes sense, instead of wishful apologizing about the fact that Eccleston never came back:


I totally agree that Name of the Doctor would have to handle the Eccleston "surprise" different, but think of it this way: Clara, while in the Doctor's time-stream, looks at a book called Time War. Thus, its safe to assume that she would've seen the destruction of Gallifrey, and the Ninth Doctor revealed as the one who instigated it. Perhaps she can witness that moment with Matt Smith who would regret this. As is, Name of the Doctor, like the otherwise brillaint 50th anniversary trailer, is largely misdirectional - the fact that the War Doctor destroyed Gallifrey and the Daleks is hardly a surprise. But the episode itself treats that as such, because he never reveals WHY he's not the Doctor. For eight years, the audience has known that the Doctor had destroyed the Time Lords and Daleks alike. So if you're gonna have a Secret Doctor, you better have a good reason to have him be a secret, so as to hide something. I loved the early rumors that he was the Valeyard from the future, that the Doctor knew he would BECOME eventually, because he's seen in his own time-stream, something that would happen because of the Trial of a Time Lord story arc.


So after dealing with Name, we have Night of the Doctor.... and I'm not sure why the author of the artcile thinks in an Eccleston-guest-starring episode it would be an unecessary addition. In fact, I'd argue the opposite - I'd say it'd be EVEN MORE ESSENTIAL. Because, as the accepted speculation has been, the Eighth Doctor had been the one who was fighting in the Time War, the minisode's purpose would, of course, be shifted: Instead of a Doctor who would regenerate into a Warrior that would be involved in the War, this time the Eighth Doctor would already BE a Warrior... but one who would still be unable to make the hard decision to end the Time Lords and Daleks alike. Death and Sisterhood of Karn later, the Doctor becomes the Ninth, and the one who will end the War. Leading right into...


... The Day of the Doctor. Where this time, the Ninth Doctor and the Moment's projection of Rose/Bad Wolf would make real sense. If anything is absolute proof that Moffat intended to have the Ninth in War's place, this is it. The sight of having Eccleston and Billie Piper reunited since the reboot. And may I say, what a lovely picture that would've been. Not to mention later on, to have Ninth AND Tenth with Piper in the same scene in the barn. Just brilliant.


Anyway, I imagine it would probably be more-or-less the same, apart from the Doctor being very, very early on - Tenth's "very recent for you" only makes sense in that respect, and as-is constitutes as a flaw in the existing narrative that the Doctors 10 and 11 don't remember that he regenerated after the Time War. And he'd be less grumpy, obviously, but thats obvious. In any case, his coda could possibly involve going back to Earth for the "Rose" events. OR, in a clever twist, the Ninth Doctor could have stolen the Moment AFTER having done "Rose" and even recognizes Bad Wolf as Rose, only to forget because of timey-wimey. But thats just fan-speculation.


And now, Time of the Doctor... this is tricky, because the Eleventh Doctor clearly has to have had all regenerations spent in order for the story to work as it does. HOWEVER... there is the matter of the Valeyard. The fella that came out of the Doctor between the 12th and 13th (and final) incarnation? Clearly, unless you retcon the Meta-Crisis Doctor as him (which presently would be ideal, as it'd even bring Tennant back for an appearence as an evil Doctor, funnily enough), that could be adressed as something that DID happen... but we didn't see. Something that the Eleventh wouldn't remember, but would have to come to accept as fact, as he would grow old in Christmas town. If anything, its a decent hint for a multi-Doctor story to come - one where you could have Capaldi present, as well, and Smith's Doctor "spewing" the Valeyard out of him. But that is all if Moffat chose to do the Christmas special the way he did, or similarly to that at least.


So, there. I hope I presented a somewhat logical progression of events, as well as suggestion, had Eccleston been in the 50th anniversary. Please excuse me while I go to bed. Bye!

The Wizard of Fez
The Wizard of Fez

First episode: 9 looks in the mirror and remarks "Eh, could've been worse" or something like that, while pulling on his ears. So in" Rose",  the regenerated doctor sees himself for the first time. And in the whole time war, I think he would see himself at least once

DavidKlande
DavidKlande

Well McGann as the War Doctor would have worked too and despite needing a lot of changes to what we have now Eccleston would have probably worked as well.


The point is that from the point on that Eccleston declined the story was set up the way it is and would not have worked with McGann or Eccleston anymore in the end, but I am sure we would have also seen a great couple of final Smith-Episodes without John Hurt.


That said I am happy how things turned out for the most part, especially in the Day of the Doctor as the chemistry of 10, 11 and the War Doctor was just really, really great.


One final thing about your arguments: I would rather have had the thread of being the final incarnation loom over the 12th's story as an ongoing theme until his exit than have the whole thing brought in full steam and resolved in just 1 episode, as that would have really raised the stakes for 12. They could have started this in episode 1 of season 8, when Clara and 12 get to know each other, like so: "So, this is your final regeneration, isn't it?" - "Afraid so." - "So what are we gonna do about it?" - "All good things have to end, don't they?"

thenicknielsen
thenicknielsen

Great article... but what about an alternate take: "What if the eighth doctor was the war doctor?"

Surely after seeing "Night of the Doctor", I can't be alone on this one.

BJAMES
BJAMES

I really wanted to see Christopher Eccleston reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor at least once. I was very cross at him when he didn't. But now, I personally can't imagine the Universe of Doctor Who without the "War" or "Other" Doctor, as portrayed by John Hurt. I feel he was brilliant. Who could have foreseen that we would get an entirely other Doctor, 50 years into the show? We have 13 brilliant episodes with Eccleston that will always be with us. And as controversial as this statement might prove to be, I'm glad he declined involvement, and we got the gift of John Hurt.

Djcr
Djcr

It's impossible to predict what Steven Moffat was planning when he had Christopher Eccleston in mind for the 50th anniversary special.


The idea of the War Doctor, a secret incarnation whom the Doctor was terribly ashamed of for his actions during the Time War (not just the final moments) only makes sense with a new actor.


Regardless of whether or not the ninth Doctor had just regenerated in "Rose," he was always going to stay "the Doctor," so really only the eighth Doctor could have potentially lost the title.


Still, the whole idea of a secret behind the Doctor's name is clearly a very fertile idea. The Doctor thought it somehow related to the War Doctor, to the crimes he'd committed during the Time War. We later found out the Silence were trying to prevent something that hadn't happened yet, the potential for his name, spoken by him, to unleash the Time Lords and their war back into the universe.


So there we already have two different secrets related to the Doctor's name and the Time War. Perhaps those general ideas are all that were definitively planned in the earlier stages of Matt Smith's run as the Doctor. Did Moffat know what the deeper meaning of "Silence will fall" would be in "The Big Bang?" Possibly he had an idea. He might even have had a well-developed idea. But these things change so much that it's unlikely the end result was his originally plan.


Each year he probably kept modifying what was a general, vague intention to bring the Time War back into the fold as a threat. Not too dissimilar to Russell T. Davies, when you think about it. Every major plot point in the revived series has had some relation to the Time War. 


At least, the way things ended up, the Silence plot line relates to fear of a future Time War. Indeed, the entire plot line is presented as a "threat from the Doctor's future" in one form or another. We even had River Song's main run, a character strongly representative of the Doctor's future, whether good or bad.


So these basic ideas may have been at play in Moffat's head all along. Surely, however, the details were figured out as time went on. 

Rule27
Rule27

Interesting article.
As a big fan of Chris' Doctor, I would have loved him to come back.  
However I agree with your article in that actually, it probably worked out better this way, having a new (and incredible) Doctor to celebrate this anniversary.  It adds more mystery, and all in all leaves a more rounded story arc in my opinion.  
The only thing I am disappointed with, is that Chris didn't even appear in a small cameo role.  New fresh footage of him piloting his TARDIS, would to me, have been all the more special.  I'm sure that those few seconds, plus a full regeneration from the War Doctor into the 9th Doctor would not have been so demanding on his schedule, and would have made the special perfect.  I do have some small regrets that it didn't happen.  Now I suppose we will never know what the 9th Doctor's first words were.

VictorWong1
VictorWong1

The thing is, if Eccleston had come back the Special would have been criticized for being more a celebration of the Revived Series than the whole run.

And you couldn't really use Eight. The BBC would have needed to screen the 1996 movie beforehand because not that many casual viewers know who Eight is, because they're not the ones who do the tie-in media where Eight thrived. And Moffat is right in saying that the general viewer wouldn't consider Eight as a man hard enough and badass enough to wipe out an entire civilization.

There are two advantages to the War Doctor. One is that, due to his age, he can serve as a surrogate for the Classic Doctors in the story. The other is, the part can attract an A-list guest star - imagine what Patrick Stewart or John Rhys-Davies or Pierce Brosnan could have done with that part.

OnceTheDoctor
OnceTheDoctor

I think I would have died of happiness if Eccleston was the War Doctor so for my safety, no sorry. Hurt did a brilliant job.

EvolutionOfTheDoctor
EvolutionOfTheDoctor

I preferred the idea of the War Doctor in the Day Of The Doctor to Eccleston coming back yet I am kind of peeved that he didn't just show up for an hour or two one day to film the regeneration

JJ2000
JJ2000

I would have preferred John Hurt as the Eighth Doctor. Basically, Sylvester McCoy's seventh Doctor regenerates into Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor and he's all charming and fun, etc. Then he lives and gets less and less fun, because he is filled with disgust and horror and has seen too many dreadful things and he knows that he has to destroy Gallifrey and therefore becomes a different man over the many years as he ages into an old man slowly, which I think a Doctor sort of should, like Matt's did in the end. John Hurt basically plays the same part as he did, but a later version of McGann's Doctors life and the Doctor sort of classes his Eighth life ending whenever he became like the war Doctor, so McGann isn't forgotten, but John Hurt is. I think it would have worked better like that, so Peter Capaldi really is the Twelfth and doesn't effect the line-up and also, they wouldn't have added the stolen earth and journey's end regeneration as a waste or regeneration energy either. Just a thought.

The 4th Doctor
The 4th Doctor

well, even if eccleston agreed to return, i'd stll like to have seen john hurt as the war doctor otherwise it wouldnt work

gunslinger19
gunslinger19

loved his doctor, possibly the best ever, but I do think that Hurt was the best choice for the 50th. weve had a whole eccleston series but Hurt gave us a brand new incarnation for the best character in the history of fiction. and he added to the role as much as any other doctor despite his short screen time imo! I just wish that Eccleston had returned for a 30 second regeneration scene. imagine if the 50th had played out as it had and then after the credits we could have seen the Hurt/Eccleston regeneration in all its entirety, completing 50 years. that would have been epic!!!

Pipnant
Pipnant

This makes me wish it was Eccleston now. It would have really developed Nine's short lived character that is in fact one of my favourites. Unfortunately I think he is one of the only actors who played the Doctor to actually dislike the show so I don't think we'll ever get that chance.

Dalekworld
Dalekworld

I think all of the "of the Doctor" trilogy would of been complete different if Chris came back. Before TDOTD( or NOTD) I thought the eight doctor fought in the time war, but got killed at the end by something and turned into Chris I think Hurt Doctor mange to connect anything we didn't understand meaning the last 50th years now make sense (hopefully).

Long live Capaldi

HisNameIsTheDoctor
HisNameIsTheDoctor

I am very glad that the War Doctor was in the 50th, and not the 9th, because of the plot changes, and because he's great. Eccleston, as The Moff has said, was explicitly just regenerated in "Rose". If Eccleston had stayed, John Hurt might've still been included to make a 4-doctor 50th.

Oliver J. "cool"
Oliver J. "cool"

Hmmm, it makes me feel better about Chris not returning as it would cause all those plot holes. I thought the War Doctor concept was stupid when I first watched TNotD but since TDotD I've learnt to love it.

TheRaggedyDoctor
TheRaggedyDoctor

Everyone I've got a theory on how Mcgann could have been the war doctor and nothing really changed except his appearance and the whole trenzalore thing happened. It's not the best but still makes sense. As seen in journey's end the doctor transferred the regeneration energy into the hand and still kept the same face. So in The night of the doctor in the crash of the ship the doctor could have lost some part of his body e.g. Hand, finger and well something! So when the sisters made him regenerate and blablabla he could have transferred the energy into the body part and the doctor would have stayed in the face of Mcgann!

stangers10
stangers10

It's possible to go a bit awry when trying to work out how something would have fitted in with stories that would probably have been written very differently in the event.  Time of the Doctor, for instance - chances are the idea for it being the Doctor's last incarnation only came about subsequent to the idea for the War Doctor anyway, so if that hadn't happened, he'd most likely have written a different story anyway.













I don't think it necessarily follows that The Name of the Doctor had its final scene built into it form the start.  The story was written partly to fulfil something he came up with for the last episode S6 in 2011 and to resolve the Clara mystery.  There's no reason to assume that introducing a Doctor at the end of the episode - whether an old or new one - was always intended to be part of it, right from the start.  That could very easily have been added at a later stage of writing it.  I suspect that the scene with Hurt was probably recorded several months after the rest of it too - Name was recorded circa Autumn 2012, whereas Hurt probably recorded his appearance in it around the time they were recording Day, April/May 2013.

It's not as if there's any significant revelation in terms of what his character is supposed to have done.  We already knew, from 2005, that the idea was that the Doctor had wiped out his own people to end a war, so there would have been no necessity to treat that as a mystery in itself.  Arguably it was only the casting of a new actor which gave them any reason to attempt that kind of intrigue.                                                                                      As for Night, again, the dialogue would likely not have been the same.  McGann wouldn't have been given lines asking to be turned into a warrior, the emphasis would probably only have been on the Doctor agreeing to to take part in something he would have been avoiding.  The only reason for calling him a warrior, and all the "Doctor no more" stuff in there is so that Hurt's incarnation wouldn't interfere with the order of Doctors, allowing McGann's to be the eighth and Eccleston's to still be the Ninth.  Clearly, if Eccleston had returned, none of that would have been an issue, and therefore it wouldn't have been included.  He would simply have been characterised as what he was, a new Doctor, rather than someone calling himself something else.




There's way too much made of that scene in Rose, where the Doctor comments on his ears in the mirror.  He doesn't claim he's never seen that face before, all he does is comment on its appearance.  People can comment on their appearance all the time in the real world, it doesn't necessarily mean they're looking at themselves for the first time when they do so.  So that in itself is a non-issue really.  In any case, if you're concerned about contradicting dialogue from earlier episodes, it could be pointed out that The Time of the Doctor contradicts The Next Doctor, where Tennant considers that the apparent  David Morrissey incarnation could be his next self, or the next but one, even though, according to what we're told in Time, he only has one regeneration left at this stage.                                                                          I liked Hurt's interpretation of his character, but I don't honestly believe that Eccleston returning and playing a similar role would have caused any serious problems.  Any alleged difficulties probably would never have arisen in the first place, as they would only have come about, or been rewritten appropriately, after his replacement to begin with, most likely.















JessupLax
JessupLax

I like the idea put forth here,  but it seems to me that "what if" speculations shouldn't be based so strictly on the plot points we were actually delivered. In my mind, I think the only elements that would have remained would have been those that are fixed. Namely the Moment (not as Piper), Time Lords,  and the Time War. There wouldn't have been a War Doctor without Hurt. It simply would have been 8 or 9. Likely 8, considering Moff's position on not seeing 8 in that light. It's indicative of his feeling that it couldn't have been 9 in the war. Which means of course the story in Name (and what followed) would have been significantly different. Even so it would probably have been spectacular, in equal to or better than what we had. Agreeably the media hysteria would have been less, but we wouldn't have known any better. With having 9 in we'd likely have been treated to an impromptu, regeneration waste-then-save (or resrted to falling back on River) to account for the new cycle. Seems obvious to me, anyway.











DugRuzz
DugRuzz

Excellent article, Will. I think though that swapping Chris into the role would change things even further back than "Name of the Doctor." Nu-Who loves its season-long arcs, and it wouldn't surprise me if Moffat had an eye on the War Doctor's reveal as far back as Clara's introduction in "The Snowmen," where he introduces the mystery of how Clara exists that pays off in "Name" with her entering the Doc's time stream on Trenzalore. But if there's no War Doctor, they might not have even gone to Trenzalore at all, so Season 7B would involve some kind of build up to Eccleston's return instead. As for your observation: "I don’t think anyone fan of the show would want it to lose the sheer amount of publicity and interest generated by the mystery of Hurt’s Doctor." I'll give you that one, but I would also contend that said mystery would be comparable to the sheer amount of publicity and interest that would be generated by Eccleston's long-awaited return. It all comes down to the fact that Moffat knew, like the rest of us, that Eccleston was going to say no so he would have to find a work-around, and the result turned out extremely good. In my fevered imaginings, if Chris had said yes, then Moffat could have worked his clever, clever mind to tie everything together just fine. And even if that fell short, or if parts of it didn't end up making sense as some have argued, I believe that enough clever fans would figure out ways to justify it so it DID make sense, or even overlook those shortfalls because OMG THE NINTH DOCTOR IS BACK!! And the 50th anniversary, which was already excellent as it was, would have been promoted from the start as a team-up of all the modern Doctors.











Gluben
Gluben

Would someone like to write a similar article entitled "What if...the Eighth Doctor was the War Doctor"? If not, I'd like to!

The way I would've done it would be to have McGann in the War Doctor role, as a heavily-damaged Eighth Doctor. I would then have tied The Night of the Doctor into The Day of the Doctor: he saves Cass by teleporting her off the ship and gets into his TARDIS but can't dematerialise in time and the ship still crashes. He is still alive but is then convinced by the Sisterhood of Karn to find and steal the Moment, rather than regenerate.

Ten and Eleven's plots would've been as normal but I would've also added a new sub-plot featuring Nine. This would be taken from just before Bad Wolf, i.e. he is in Kyoto, 1336 and is creating a distraction away from Rose and Jack by being chased by a group of Japanese warriors...

LordOfTime
LordOfTime

My opinion of the ecclestone episodes:

Rose:okay,apart from the plastic micky and it had not enough doctor

End of the World:nice ,but I didnt like this trampolin

The unquiet dead:very good liked it much more then the other 2 episodes

The aliens of London/Word War 3:also good but the could have done the slithen much better

Dalek:it was a good dalek comeback and liked the idea of an alien museum

The long game:good idea loved the editor !

The empty child / the doctor dances:my favourite series 1 episode it was very scary

also loved the "everybody lives!"scene.

Boom town:wasnt really a good episode but I liked the conversation between doctor and magaret

Bad Wolf/Parting of the ways:both were good Bad Wolf was a nice idea with the game station and also the rose Bad Wolf was an nice idea and very good was the dalek emperor

Creepy_Ghoul
Creepy_Ghoul

I think the storylines of Name, Night, Day and Time would have been entirly different if Eccleston returned, unless of course he would be playing a double role, but I don't see why Moffat should ask him to do so.

The Finn
The Finn

Interesting article. Love a bit of alternate history.

Angie Whodini
Angie Whodini

I agree with this article and I've always been happy with how things turned out. He could have still appeared as the Doctor, though, but well the past is the past..

Doctor What and Where
Doctor What and Where

And to note, I would have settled with Paul McGann appearing in War Doctor's place. It would've been less "trifling", as he could still have been a secret Doctor for NuWho Doctors, as he would've fought in the Time War and ended the Time Lords. In fact, their dissapointment would've made more sense, as the Eighth would've once been the romantic, youthful person that we know from the TV Movie, before his descent into the Warrior.  And it would've been metetextual, for those stubborn fans that still had trouble reconcilling McGann in the Who canon.


Really, another much better alternative than Hurt as the War Doctor.

beskar
beskar

@Rule27  Keep things in perspective. Chris has been very open about having a bad time on Doctor Who, so why would he want to come back and add to it?

BJAMES
BJAMES

@VictorWong1 I honestly believe that TNOTD would not have come into existence, we would never have seen McGann reprise his role on television had Eccleston been involved. Eight had to be seen to regenerate into the War Doctor to validate the War Doctor's very existence. Had Eccleston been involved, we would not have had to have seen that, just a flashback to Nine fighting in the War. I honestly believe that things happen or don't happen for a reason, and Eccleston's declining to be involved became our gain.

beskar
beskar

@VictorWong1  Come on, Victor, that's weak. You think they'd have to air the TVM so audiences would understand? Funny.. they didn't air all the other Doctor's stories so the audience would understand why 12 TARDISes flew in to save Galllifrey, piloted by different guys... or who all those different guys were in the final scene... did they? I think you are treating the casual audience like idiots if you don't think that, after seeing one or two regenerations in the post 2005 episodes, that they don't "get" there are other Doctors!!!

JJ2000
JJ2000

@TakeTheType40  Russell said he's been around for a bit and Steven said he was knew. I like to think he had a few adventures, like the one that Clive shown Rose in Rose. Lol. But he hadn't had that many and he hadn't had that much time to look at his appearance, until then, to properly look. I don't know. Just a thought. I'm glad it's sort of left open, so that you can think what you want. Whether you think he has been around for a while or is a newly-reg (newly-regenerated Doctor). :)


Strontium
Strontium

@TakeTheType40 Ah well we know he has regenerated because of the ears line, but not much else told us that really. A simple solution would have been, instead of sandshoes, chinny, and granddad, it could have been sandshoes, chinny, and ears or something like that, and then he was just checking.

mrpaddy1984
mrpaddy1984

One small point. When Tennant's Doctor made the comment about the David Morrissey Doctor, it was before the meta-crisis regeneration so he still had two regenerations left at that point.

Gluben
Gluben

...He then enters a room to find that he is facing all forms of Cybermen (similar to Asylum of the Daleks, it would feature all versions of them since the show began). He is back on Mondas before its destruction, and the Cybermen have opened portals to millions of points in history to attack and convert. He goes through several of these (entering comical situations and perhaps retconning certain events, e.g. giving the Master the Harold Saxon alias accidentally) before finding an escape portal to England, 1562, where he meets Ten and then Eleven, before Eight jumps in to join them. The Day of the Doctor could then work the Cybermen into it as well alongside the Zygons.


At the very end of the story, Eight goes off in his TARDIS, only to find a damaged Dalek has done an Emergency Temporal Shift into the TARDIS to escape Gallifrey being frozen. The Dalek is about to fire, but Eight uses the soldier's gun from Gallifrey to shoot the TARDIS console to destroy it, firing the Dalek out of the doors and sending it plummeting to Earth in Utah, 2012 to become the one in Dalek. The TARDIS crashes, almost in tatters, into London, 2005, with Eight having fallen out and crashed nearby. Near death, he regenerates into Nine. He then goes to Henrik's and steals the leather jacket etc. and investigates the Autons. This way, all Doctors in The Day of the Doctor are taken out of time just before they regenerate.

stangers10
stangers10

@mrpaddy1984  


The Stolen Earth/Journey's End was in June and July 2008, and The Next Doctor was set later and shown in December 2008, so you're mistaken there.

Gluben
Gluben

I also would've had the Moment turn into several of the Doctor's companions from his past, present and future instead of just Rose.

And the episode would've thus been around 90 minutes instead of 75, and Eight would've had longer on-screen, as would Nine.

Thoughts?

ChristopherValin
ChristopherValin

Good point about nobody knowing Twelve. If Eleven was supposed to be the last regeneration, why weren't they wondering who the hell he was? Either that, or Eleven must have known at the end date of Time of the Doctor that he had another one coming.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

I agree with your second and third points, but the first one seems like a non-issue. Not only did all of the Doctors feature in the episode anyway due to the saving Gallifrey sequence, but Tom Baker (I know, I know; basically the most popular Doctor and the most well-known of the classic lot, but still) showed up in the episode, as did Twelve, who no one knew at the time. Plus, they cycled through all of the Doctor's faces just two episodes prior in "Nightmare in Silver". And it was a 50th anniversary special, so it wouldn't have mattered so much if the new fans didn't get it, because not only was the special not made exclusively for them, but there was a already ton of stuff in the episode that would have flown over their heads anyway. :P

Warpstar
Warpstar

No, I think the minisode was the better way.

1.) Doctor No 8 is still not very good known to all Who-Fans.

2.) How he got to be the War Doctor is not vital to the main episode.

3.) Too Long for a pre title sequence!

Temporal Tomato
Temporal Tomato

@Gluben  I would have been happy if McGann's minisode was the pre-title sequence for Day of the Doctor.