‘Doctor Who’ exec Moffat explains Eccleston regeneration cut in 50th ep

Doctor Who John Hurt regeneration

Steven Moffat has discussed why the regeneration of John Hurt’s Doctor into Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor in Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary special was cut short.

The scene in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ ended before viewers could fully see the Ninth Doctor’s face.

Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine in the latest issue, Moffat revealed: “It was one thing to include [Eccleston] among all the other archive Doctors, as they flew in to save the day — in fact, it would have been disgraceful to have left anyone out — but placing him in that scene might have given the impression he’d actually turned up for filming, which would have been crossing the line.”

Doctor Who Series 1 Rose

He added: “Not taking part in the 50th was a difficult decision for Chris, taken after a lot of thought and with great courtesy, and not respecting his wishes would have been grossly unprofessional and disrespectful to a good man and a great Doctor. Number 9 may not have turned up for the celebrations, but there would have been no party without him.”

Did you want to see more of the regeneration scene? Let us know below…

  • Daedrin

    He may not have returned for an important day, but he was there for all of the other important days. Time is something you waste when you have so little of it, right?
    Without him, none of our modern appreciation of the doctor would exist. The pregenitor.

    • Matt ‘Moriarty’ Carey

      “You should always waste time when you don’t have any. Time is not the boss of you. Rule 408.”


  • A Touch of Insanity

    I would have loved to have seen the full regeneration, but I can understand honoring his wishes. Just the small touch with Chris’ brilliant blue eyes coming through was good for me.

  • Fortytwo Mice

    Uummm WTF? Christppher Eccleston DOES appear in the 50th Anniversary episode with the line “..for my next trick.” and is shown flicking a lever on the console so WTF are you all & the above article on about beyond the fact the full regeneration wsn’t shown & for me that is a great way of leaving it open for Chris to come back at some point & fill in the gap between the 50th regen & Rose.

    • Doctorwhy

      The line “for my next trick” is archive footage from the first season with chris.

    • ElizabethIsATimeLady

      Which is exactly what Moffat said. Christopher appeared “among all the other archive Doctors, as they flew in to save the day” with a clip clearly from the archive footage, just like all the other clips of the previous Doctors. Showing him during the regeneration scene would have looked like he had actually shoot the scene *for* the 50th anniversary, and Eccleston clearly didn’t want that. His choice not to appear in the special is probably linked with his wanting to detach himself from the role, so I appreciate how thoughtful they were to take his wishes into consideration. They could have done that using archive footage, but it wouldn’t have been nice to Chris to give the idea that he actually participated in the shooting of the special.

    • Dana

      Exactly what gap is he supposed to fill in? The Doctor’s messed about with Rose’s timeline enough already, including showing up at Powell Estate as Ten the New Year’s Eve before Rose met the Doctor the first time in her own timeline. I’m content with Rose’s first known meeting with him being when Nine grabbed her hand and said, “Run!”

  • Victor Who

    As great at the 50th was, it would’ve been more memorable had Eccleston participated in it. The scene where the War Doctor was with The Moment….instead of two Tardises materializing, there would’ve been three and where the “coat”, the “bowtie”, and the “leather jacket” would come out.

    I really liked #9, but his choice not participate really soured me on him.

    • CedarRapids

      Yeah, It was the 50th anniversary, at least show some respect for the show and the fans even if you do have a beef with the BBC.

      • A Guy

        It’s not that he didn’t have any respect, it’s just that he wanted to detach himself from the series. He didn’t want to be typecast.

        • Aaron O’neil

          Actually that’s just a rumor. he never liked tdoing the show and he wasn’t into it before then either, so he left.

      • JJ

        How was choosing to not be a part of a role he once had being disrespectful? Do you think Matt Smith or David Tennant should automatically commit to every Doctor Who movie henceforth? I don’t think so. Yes, it may have been disappointing because he was great in that role.. but it was just work for him. He’s respectfully moved on.

    • Dana

      Ten was Sandshoes, not Coat. And Eleven was Chinny.

      I actually think Nine would have made the episode a bit *too* Doctor-heavy. *gasp!* Yes, I know. I just spake heresy. But sometimes even Doctor Who can go too far over the top. If they’d just had him there at the end where War Doctor regenerated to him, or maybe in the Thirteen Doctors scene, that would have been fine, but having him in the main plot really wouldn’t have worked.

      And Eccleston made the conscious choice to leave in the first place out of discontent with the way the show was run behind the scenes. As per his original explanatory public statement, not from rumor. Clearly whatever the problem was had not been resolved by the time they asked him to come back. It’s not like anything else he’s done has been nearly as famous, especially not in the States; it would have benefited him to return. He had to know that, too.

      • Morbius

        I don’t agree it would have been too Doctor heavy. “The Five Doctors” worked fine.

      • caffeinedelusions

        Not necessarily. Implications are that if they’d been able to get him to agree, then the War Doctor never would have been introduced into the narrative. The War Doctor existed for the sole purpose of standing in for Nine.

    • Brianna Starfish

      The episode would have been completely different. The only reason the war doctor exists is because that character was supposed to be 9, but since he chose not to be in the episode, they had to make a whole new character.

      • lloyd

        That is not the reason the war doctor was created. 9 found Rose not long after he regenerated so it would have been highly unlikely that they would have considered 9 to be part of the time war. They may have considered 8 to be in the place of the war doctor but they most likely chose to add the war doctor before asking if either 8 or 9 wanted to play the part because they probably didn’t think 8 would have been capable of making the decisions that needed to be made in the name of peace and sanity.

        • Caffeinedelusions

          Originally, it was believed that Eight (Paul McGann) was the Doctor through most of the Time War for precisely the reasons that you cite… That said, the notion of Eight regenerating into Nine in an opening scene, Nine reaching for the Moment because a new Regeneration means a new perspective on events, and going the whole Special making a running gag out of the fact that Nine never gets to look in a mirror would’ve been a perfectly reasonable explanation.

    • JJ

      Wow, get over it. It’s Christopher Eccelston choice to not be a part of the 50th. It’s just a role for the actors, not their life’s work. It doesn’t mean that every actor who plays a role (any role actually) is committing his life to it. They do their best job and move on. And so you should move on too.

  • Devon Loper

    The WHO verse is very very very complacated!! u have the classics and then this.. 2005 has its own little storyline thing but they have added sooo much of the classic that it makes no sense with how the doctor is… But It is in the end A FANTASTIC show and Uncontrolable amazing!

    • Stephan Dirk Berger

      The English language is also “complacated” ;)

  • Ewan

    But we did see 9 properly in the 13 Doctors scene when he said “And for my next trick”

    • Bradley Jacobs

      If you couldn’t tell, it was an archive scene from his season, not a new clip.

  • Linda

    I don’t understand… Surely he would have regenerated to show the first doctor, not the 9th?

    • Kyle

      The War Doctor comes after the 8th Doctor. He’s is the version of the Doctor that fought in the Time War. There’s a short called “Night of the Doctor” which shows the 8th Doctor turning into the War Doctor.

      • Trevor Troth

        looks like Linda may be one of those who thinks Christopher Ecclestone was the first Doctor :(

  • Steve the British One

    You know, I’m fine with Eccleston not appearing fully in the 50th. I don’t really think having him properly show up for the regeneration would have really added all that much, and if he didn’t want to be a part of it in that way then I’m glad they respected his wishes.

    Besides, I kind of like that it only goes part-way. I think seeing him stumble around post-regeneration would probably only have hurt the scene. It’s actually, I think, a touch more powerful just knowing he’s going to regenerate and seeing those first features of the 9th Doctor appearing.

  • delores_in_wa_state

    Perhaps it was not in the DVD, but it was in the movie theatre showing because I noticed it in the US. I was happy to see his eyes for that second or two. :-)

  • Tig

    If you accept a role as the Doctor, you are accepting things like this. It is extremely disappointing and frankly offensive to fans for him to be so ashamed of his work on the show that he won’t come back for something like this.

    • scotsinkilts

      he signed on to do one season. and according to reports he did not enjoy his one season that much. Why would he go back?

  • Chef Joe

    Look I really think Eccleston was my favorite Doctor. “Every Planet has a North” And I understand he quit under issues that made him quit that first brilliant season. But to not show up and give us fans the respect to play his role will not be forgiven. It is extremely disappointing and frankly offensive to fans for him to be so ashamed of his work on the show that he won’t come back for something like this.

    • dancedance

      I’m extremely disappointed people get offended over something like an actor choosing not to appear in a role. I’m a fan and I am not offended by any means.

      • Chef Joe

        good for you

    • LonelyWolfe

      So lets say some actor makes a movie and he really hated making that movie or had a problem with it. Hollywood wants to make a sequel and the fans want the sequel. Should that actor make the sequel just to make the fans happy? Your whole post is offensive to me as a fan of Doctor Who and also a fan of Chris Eccleston. And you don’t deserve any respect from any actor what so ever because you only think of yourself. He had his reason and you need to respect his reason for doing so. If he didn’t want to do it that’s his choice and never will be and never should be yours.

  • http://www.tagged.com/lana-v Svetlana Nikolovnia Vostok

    id love to see the whole scene, why not just edit from the mcgann eccleston scene?

  • http://www.scirev.net/ Wolverine

    I’m fine with the way it was filmed. If he ever decides to come back, he’s welcome!

  • Sara Jung-Claßen

    Considering how bad the 50th was, I’m kind of glad he didn’t appear…