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New Series Episode 108:
The Day Of The Doctor
On the last day of the Time War, a man who refuses to call himself “The Doctor” is faced with an appalling choice: in order to end the bloodshed, he must use an ancient Time Lord weapon to slaughter billions. Elsewhere, the Tenth Doctor hunts Zygons in Elizabethan England, while in the present day, the Eleventh Doctor and Clara investigate a mystery at an art gallery. All of these events become intertwined, leading three incarnations of the same Time Lord to confront the most terrible moment of their lives.
The first episode of Doctor Who had aired on November 23rd, 1963. Ever since, the programme had not been shy about celebrating its milestones. In December 1972, Season Ten began with the first ever meeting of multiple incarnations of the Doctor as they tackled the mad Time Lord pioneer Omega in The Three Doctors. This feat was repeated on a grander scale for the twentieth anniversary in 1983 with The Five Doctors, which included a confrontation with Rassilon, the founder of Time Lord society. Five years later, Doctor Who's silver anniversary story was the appropriately-named Silver Nemesis, featuring the Cybermen and an ancient Time Lord weapon. Although the show went off the air in 1989, its thirtieth birthday in 1993 was marked by the broadcast of a 3-D charity mini-adventure, Dimensions In Time, which again reunited the surviving Doctors. Only the fortieth anniversary in 2003 missed the mark, leaving the celebrations to documentaries and other media. However, that same year it was announced that Doctor Who would be returning to television in 2005.
As the golden anniversary in 2013 approached, the popularity of Doctor Who in the wake of that rebirth remained vibrant. Not only was it still one of the most-watched dramas in Britain, but it was also scaling new heights of success in international territories. Consequently, executive producer Steven Moffat knew that he would bear a daunting responsibility to find a way to recognise the programme's fiftieth anniversary in a manner which would satisfy so many fans. At the same time, Moffat was adamant that such celebrations should help launch Doctor Who into its next fifty years, rather than simply reflecting on times gone by.
On November 18th, 2012, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson announced that a special episode would be broadcast to commemorate Doctor Who's golden milestone. In fact, planning was already well under way for this event, with Moffat setting the stage in his script for the Season Thirty-Three finale, The Name Of The Doctor, which was then before the cameras and would air the following May. Moffat had decided that the special was the ideal opportunity to explore the Time War and the fateful decision made by the Doctor to wipe out both the Time Lords and the Daleks in order to end the conflict. He wanted to revisit that moment, and rehabilitate it by giving the Doctor the chance to do things differently -- saving Gallifrey, and setting up the Doctor's search for his home planet as a new element for future Doctor Who episodes.
Like past anniversary stories, then, Time Lord history would play a critical role in the new special. The other frequent theme of such adventures -- the reunion of multiple Doctors -- would also play a major role in Moffat's designs. Moffat had written one such meeting already, in the charity minisode Time Crash, which brought together David Tennant's then-current Tenth Doctor and Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor. Although he was reluctant to go back to that well too often, Moffat knew that the absence of other Doctors in the anniversary special would sorely disappointed the fans. As such, he intended to have Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor team up with Tennant's Tenth Doctor to go back to the Time War and confront Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor.
Furthermore, while the public would be made aware of Smith, Tennant and Eccleston's involvement, Moffat planned to secretly incorporate all of the other Doctors using clever editing of archival footage. This would not only get around the problem that William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee -- the actors who had played the first three Doctors -- were now deceased, but would also avoid the need to explain why the other actors now looked two or three decades older than when they had played the lead role. Finally, Moffat intended to include an enigmatic cameo appearance for Tom Baker, the elder statesman of the surviving Doctors.
Moffat was writing the anniversary special, called “The Time War”, in late 2012. For the relationship between the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors, Moffat was inspired by the rivalry between the Third and Second Doctors in The Three Doctors. An opportunity to both open up new possibilities for Clara and create a link to Doctor Who's history came when it was decided she should no longer be a nanny, but instead a teacher at Coal Hill Secondary School -- the same school that the Doctor's granddaughter Susan was attending in the very first story, 100,000 BC. Moffat also drew on more recent continuity, by resolving the running gag about the Doctor's mysterious relationship with Queen Elizabeth I, which had originated in the closing moments of 2007's The Shakespeare Code. “The Time War” was also an opportunity to bring back old monsters: not just the Daleks, but also the shapeshifting Zygons, a favourite of Moffat's who had not been seen since their introduction in 1975's Terror Of The Zygons.
Returning for “The Time War” would be Kate Lethbridge-Stewart of UNIT; she had recently been introduced in The Power Of Three, played by Jemma Redgrave. Moffat also considered using audio clips to incorporate her father, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart -- actor Nicholas Courtney having passed away in 2011 -- but ultimately decided against this. Paired with Kate would be a new character, Osgood, who was conceived as her personal assistant before becoming a UNIT scientist. She was named after the hapless Sergeant Osgood (played by Alec Linstead) who had appeared in 1971's The Daemons; it was Moffat's intention that the two characters be father and daughter. Lord Bentham, meanwhile, was a reference to Jeremy Bentham, a Doctor Who historian and co-founder of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. The Moment originally appeared to the Ninth Doctor in the form of a young girl dressed in rags, and Clara accompanied the Eleventh Doctor through the portal to 1562. The portal's effects on the actions of the Tenth Doctor were to manifest themselves in the present day as the Eleventh Doctor becomes wracked with pain; this was similar to the Fifth Doctor's reaction when his past selves were removed from time in The Five Doctors.
However, throughout the development of “The Time War”, Moffat had been concerned that Eccleston might not agree to return to the role of the Ninth Doctor. The actor had starred in Doctor Who for just one year, and although he had spoken fondly of the series in subsequent interviews, there was also a sense of finality towards his involvement. In mid-February 2013, Moffat finally had a chance to meet with Eccleston, after which the actor declined the offer to appear in “The Time War”. Although Moffat was disappointed that Eccleston would not be involved, this did resolve his qualms about the narrative, because he did not feel that the Ninth Doctor suited the role of the Doctor who ended the Time War. Similarly, although Moffat considered replacing him with Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor, that incarnation seemed even less appropriate.
Instead, Moffat decided to introduce a hitherto unknown Doctor, one who lived in-between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors, and therefore bridged the gap between the Doctor Who of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This incarnation would not call himself “Doctor”, tying in with themes Moffat had already developed in The Name Of The Doctor; instead, he would simply be referred to as “the Renegade”. This would also give the production team the chance to cast a big-name actor as this War Doctor, and in short order John Hurt accepted the part. He would make his first appearance in the closing moments of The Name Of The Doctor, which would be recorded during the making of “The Time War”; this was kept secret when Hurt's casting was announced in Doctor Who Magazine on March 30th.
The introduction of the War Doctor prompted Moffat to consider including a different link to the Ninth Doctor's era in the special. He had contemplated pairing the Tenth Doctor with his companion Rose Tyler, as played by Billie Piper -- especially since Piper was widely acknowledged as having been a crucial part of the success of Doctor Who when it was revived in 2005 -- but felt that former executive producer Russell T Davies had brought Rose's story to the perfect conclusion in 2008's Journey's End. Now, however, Moffat realised that the Moment could assume Rose's form. Piper agreed to return to Doctor Who for the first time since making a cameo appearance in Tennant's final story, The End Of Time, on New Year's Day 2010.
Another consideration which Moffat had to bear in mind as he wrote “The Time War” was the decision to film the episode in 3-D. The BBC had been exploring the use of this technology since 2011, and it was felt that it would help to mark out “The Time War” as a special television event. Furthermore, it was also agreed to screen the adventure in cinemas on or near its broadcast date, greatly increasing the size of the audience which could take advantage of the 3-D experience. This encouraged elements such as the dimensionally transcendental paintings and Clara riding her motorcycle into the TARDIS, although Moffat was keen that these effects would not drive the story.
Moffat completed his first draft of “The Time War” at the end of February. At this point, the War Doctor left the “No More” message behind at the Time Lord armoury where he stole the Moment. Originally, Clara saved the Doctors from their cell in the Tower of London by convincing their jailer that she is a witch. The material involving the Doctors running a program through their sonic screwdrivers was instead to unlock the door to the Black Archive, before it was decided that they should access that area via the Gallifrey Falls painting. In the Black Archive, one of the displays featured various Doctors, including some as-yet unseen. Amongst these was a photo of Peter Cushing, who had played the title role in the feature films Dr Who and The Daleks (1965) and Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966)... with Kate explaining to a bemused Clara that these movies had been the work of some of the Doctor's former companions! References to the Cushing movies were ultimately deleted due to rights issues.
As writing progressed, all references to the War Doctor as “the Renegade” were dropped; the script designated him as “the Other Doctor”. The start of the War Doctor's regeneration in his TARDIS was a late addition; Moffat was firm that this scene be recorded in a way which would not imply Eccleston's involvement, since he wanted to respect the actor's decision to bow out of “The Time War”. When the Doctor invoked his promise at the story's climax, Moffat was recalling the oft-repeated words used to describe the Time Lord by former script editor Terrance Dicks in his 1976 non-fiction book The Making Of Doctor Who: “He never gives in, and never gives up, however overwhelming the odds against him. The Doctor believes in good and fights evil. Though often caught up in violent situations, he is a man of peace. He is never cruel or cowardly.”
As March dawned, production was winding down on another component of the anniversary celebrations: An Adventure In Space And Time, a docudrama exploring the early days of Doctor Who. As it turned out, this would bring executive producer Caroline Skinner's involvement in the programme to a close: on March 13th, it was announced that Skinner had decided to leave Doctor Who, moving to BBC Drama Production in London. Faith Penhale, the Head of Drama for BBC Wales, would be Skinner's interim replacement. Originally a journalist, Penhale's first job in television was as a researcher, before she became a script editor on programmes such as Doctors and Spooks, a producer on The Fixer, and then an executive producer on Outcasts and the revived Upstairs Downstairs. Penhale became Head of Drama for BBC Wales in 2011.
Directing “The Time War” was Nick Hurran, who had most recently directed Asylum Of The Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan for Season Thirty-Three. Amongst his cast was Ingrid Oliver as Osgood. Best known as part of the comedy double act Watson & Oliver with Lorna Watson, Oliver had also appeared in shows like Plus One and Material Girl. “The Time War” would not be her first brush with Doctor Who; Oliver had appeared in two Seventh Doctor audio plays for Big Finish Productions: Project: Destiny in 2010 and Earth Aid in 2011.
During the weeks leading up to the start of principal photography, considerable work had been invested into the 3-D process for “The Time War”. Several sequences from recent Doctor Who stories were recreated using stand-ins, while computer animation company Milk VFX produced three-dimensional renders of elements for which a two-dimensional version had already been digitally built. Hurran and the production team viewed a range of recent 3-D movies to develop a sense of what would and would not work. As a result, some elements of “The Time War” continued to evolve; for instance, Clara's motorcycle ride into the TARDIS was dropped at one point, before finally being reinstated in a less elaborate form.
Recording for “The Time War” began on March 28th on the standing TARDIS set at BBC Roath Lock. Cast and crew remained there the next day for scenes in the sculpture room and the lift; after the weekend, more lift material was recorded on April 1st along with action in the paintings room. David Tennant returned to Doctor Who for the first day of location filming the day after. This took place at the Ivy Tower on Gelli Deg Farm in Tonna for the Doctor and Queen Elizabeth's picnic.
John Hurt made his debut as the War Doctor on April 3rd at Roath Lock. To preserve the secret of his character's identity, he was identified as “Omega” on the call sheet, falsely implying a connection with the character from The Three Doctors. More TARDIS sequences were on the agenda, as well as the closing shot of the Eleventh Doctor on the cloud with his past selves -- a setting inspired by the hiding place of the TARDIS in The Snowmen, the 2012 Christmas special. Tennant and Hurt joined Smith for this footage, while stand-ins played the other Doctors; their features would be digitally altered in post-production. On April 4th, Gelligaer Common Road near Bedlinog was the venue for Clara riding to the TARDIS and the time machine being carried through the air. On the 5th, sequences in the fez gallery and the special viewing chamber were recorded at Roath Lock. The next day, Matt Smith dangled from the captive TARDIS at MOD St Athan.
April 8th and 9th were spent in London -- at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge on the first day, and then outside the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square on the second. April 10th to 12th saw Hurran's team at Caerwent Training Camp in Caerwent for the material in the Elizabethan wood. Model filming took place at Roath Lock on the 13th and 14th, most notably for the War Doctor's TARDIS crashing through the wall in Arcadia. April 15th saw recording at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, which provided the gallery where Gallifrey Falls is unveiled. Not one but two TARDIS console rooms were in use on the 16th. The Tenth Doctor's TARDIS interior was now housed at the Doctor Who Experience, a permanent exhibition erected just down the street from the studio. The War Doctor's console room was assembled at Roath Lock using elements which had been created for the First Doctor's TARDIS in An Adventure In Space And Time.
On April 17th, the Elizabethan-era Tower of London was actually Chepstow Castle in Chepstow. The dungeon cell, however, was a set erected at Roath Lock; this material was recorded on the 18th and 19th, and saw Billie Piper rejoin the Doctor Who cast. The latter day also involved filming in the barn, as well as a special introduction to “The Time War” for the cinema audience which was directed by Richard Senior (who had helmed 2011's Let's Kill Hitler). The barn set continued to be the focus on April 20th, 22nd and part of the 23rd, before cast and crew relocated to the Black Archive. This set -- also in use on the 24th -- was dressed with numerous props from the last several years, as well as boards displaying photographs of many of the Doctor's companions and allies. Some of these had been altered to create unique pairings -- such as Sara Kingdom (from 1965's The Daleks' Master Plan) with UNIT Captain Mike Yates (introduced in 1971's Terror Of The Autons) -- thereby hinting at unseen adventures.
April 25th was taken up with effects shots, by the end of which Tennant, Hurt and Piper had all finished their work on “The Time War”. However, on the 26th, Roath Lock greeted the last of the major guest stars for the special: Tom Baker, who recorded his surprise appearance as the Curator. To minimise the risk that Baker's involvement in “The Time War” might be discovered, he was not put up in a hotel overnight, but instead was driven to Cardiff from his home in East Sussex through the dark pre-dawn hours. Material in the Black Archive corridor was also completed that day.
The remaining business in the Black Archive and the paintings room was taped at Roath Lock on April 29th and 30th, respectively. In fact, the 30th was a busy day: not only did work then begin on Gallifrey scenes in the war room and the bunker corridor, but it was also announced that Brian Minchin would be joining Moffat as Doctor Who's new executive producer. Minchin had been a script editor on Belonging when he was hired in the same capacity for the launch of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood in 2006. Minchin script-edited the first two seasons of Torchwood, and also handled some episodes of the parent show beginning with the 2007 Christmas special Voyage Of The Damned. Minchin then worked as an assistant producer on the third season of Torchwood, before being promoted to producer on the last two seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures. During this time, he also served as the UK producer for the fourth season of Torchwood (which was largely made in America) and wrote the Eleventh Doctor novel The Forgotten Army for BBC Books. More recently, Minchin had been an executive producer on Dirk Gently and Wizards Vs Aliens.
May 1st saw work continue at Roath Lock on the Gallifrey material, involving the war room, the bunker corridor and the ruined building in Arcadia. Filming on the 2nd began with Clara riding her motorcycle along the Butetown Tunnel in Cardiff. Then it was back to Roath Lock and the set for the Omega Arsenal. Finally, Gladstone Primary School in Cardiff posed as Coal Hill Secondary School. The school sign indicated that the headmaster was “W Coburn” while the Chairman of the Governors was “I Chesterton”. These referred to writer Anthony Coburn, who created Coal Hill School for 100,000 BC, and former companion Ian Chesterton, who had been a science teacher there. The sign advertising IM Foreman's junkyard (the location of the TARDIS in 100,000 BC) was the same one created for An Adventure In Space And Time, while the inclusion of the policeman walking past it was an echo of the first-ever Doctor Who scene. Principal photography on “The Time War” then wrapped up with two days -- May 3rd and 4th -- at the Mamhilad Park Estate in Pontypool for the Fall of Arcadia.
Recently, the Doctor Who production team had attempted to take advantage of online platforms by recording special prequels for several episodes. These projects had been deemed successful -- particularly the multi-part Pond Life which preceded the Season Thirty-Three premiere, Asylum Of The Daleks. For “The Time War”, then, Moffat wanted to push this concept to the next level.
Despite dismissing the Eighth Doctor as a candidate for the Doctor who ended the Time War, Moffat was conscious of the fact that Paul McGann had never gotten to record a regeneration scene. Indeed, McGann had appeared only in the TV movie Doctor Who (1996), although since 2000 he had recorded more than sixty audio adventures for Big Finish Productions. As such, Moffat felt that a prequel to the anniversary special would be a suitable venue to depict the circumstances which saw the Eighth Doctor regenerate into the War Doctor. He approached McGann, who was delighted to finally be able to record a second Doctor Who appearance.
The prequel would see the Eighth Doctor trying to avoid involvement in the Time War, only to be mortally wounded while failing to save Cass, a spaceship pilot who refuses to trust a Time Lord. He would then be helped to regenerate into a form suitable to fight the Time War by the Sisterhood of Karn, who had been introduced in 1976's The Brain Of Morbius. Moffat originally envisaged the prequel as being comprised of two episodes, with a cliffhanger at the point where the Sisterhood of Karn discover the Doctor's body in the wreck of Cass' spaceship. Cass' reaction to the Doctor was inspired by the description given in The End Of Time of the Time Lords having become as evil as the Daleks. Ohila was named after Ohica, a member of the Sisterhood in their earlier appearance. As he was about to regenerate, the Eighth Doctor invoked the names of several of his Big Finish companions: Charley Pollard, C'rizz, Lucie Miller, Tamsin Drew and Molly O'Sullivan. Moffat was delighted to have the opportunity to acknowledge the non-televised Doctor Who canon as part of the anniversary celebrations.
The prequel was recorded at Roath Lock on May 7th and 8th, with the first day concentrating on the Sisterhood's cave, and the second on Cass' vessel and its wreck. The director was John Hayes. Moffat hoped that McGann's involvement could be kept a secret until November, and so the actor's name was omitted from the call sheet, with the “Omega” alias again used for his character. Costume designer Howard Burden provided McGann with an updated version of the garments he had worn in his debut story. Whereas that outfit had been a pilfered Hallowe'en costume, Burden envisaged the new clothes as being more practical for many years of adventuring. (Moffat also wanted them to look somewhat ragged, reflecting the fraying state of both the Doctor and the universe as a result of the Time War.) For the fleeting glimpse of the young War Doctor, a photo was used of Hurt as Raskolnikov from the 1979 miniseries Crime And Punishment.
Moffat also wrote a second prequel, which would help give some insight into the Gallifreyan perspective in the closing days of the Time War. This would feature Chris Finch reprising his role as the Time Lord soldier seen in the special, and depicted the start of the Dalek assault on Arcadia as viewed through another soldier's headcam. The second prequel was directed by Jamie Stone, and recorded at Roath Lock on May 9th.
Some time earlier, during the production of Season Thirty-Three, Moffat and Smith had started to discuss the actor's future on Doctor Who. In the spring of 2012, Smith had observed the difficult time that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill had had leaving their roles as the Doctor's companions, Amy and Rory. He was growing concerned that if he committed to a fourth season, then he might never leave -- worries which had also prompted Tennant's departure from the title role after three seasons. Around the time that Jenna-Louise Coleman joined Doctor Who full-time in May 2012, she was made aware that Smith was nearing the end of his time on the programme, and over the coming weeks it was agreed that the 2013 Christmas special -- airing a month or so after “The Time War” -- would be the Eleventh Doctor's last adventure. Smith's imminent departure was announced by the BBC on June 1st.
Amongst all the activity of the anniversary preparations, then, the Doctor Who team found themselves casting the Twelfth Doctor. A name which quickly and persistently came up was Peter Capaldi. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Capaldi had begun acting on stage while still in high school. He went to the Glasgow School of Art and was the lead singer of a punk rock band called Dreamboys (with comedian Craig Ferguson), but soon began appearing in film and television, beginning with the critically-acclaimed Local Hero in 1983. Other movie roles included Dangerous Liaisons, Bean and World War Z, while amongst Capaldi's many small screen credits were Neverwhere, Midsomer Murders and Skins. In 1995, he won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film as writer and director of the comic Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life. However, Capaldi was best known as the invective-launching communications director Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It and its movie sequel, In The Loop.
Capaldi also had several Doctor Who connections. He was a lifelong fan of the programme, having been involved in organised Doctor Who fandom as a teenager during the early 1970s. More recently, Capaldi had played both Caecilius in 2008's The Fires Of Pompeii and the ill-fated John Frobisher in the Torchwood epic Children Of Earth. He had refused the opportunity to audition for the role of the Eighth Doctor during casting for Doctor Who (1996), and had also been briefly considered by Moffat during the search for the Eleventh Doctor in 2009. Capaldi had even visited the set of An Adventure In Space And Time earlier in 2013.
Now, however, Moffat was unconvinced that an actor of Capaldi's stature would be interested in the demanding commitment of the lead role in Doctor Who. Indeed, at 55 years old, Capaldi was the same age that William Hartnell had been when he was cast as the First Doctor, and Hartnell remained the eldest of the actors to play the part. On the other hand, Moffat also felt that this would make for an effective contrast with Smith's very young-looking Doctor. As such, it came as a pleasant surprise when Moffat learned that Capaldi was interested in auditioning for the role of the Twelfth Doctor. The search for a new lead actor ended there and, on August 4th, Capaldi was revealed to the world during a special BBC1 broadcast entitled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor.
Around the same time, the BBC announced that the Doctor Who anniversary special would forge new territory for a drama by being simulcast in markets around the world. In the end, more than seventy-five countries would air the adventure, with the cinema release also expanding to several other markets. On September 5th, a second item for these theatrical screenings was filmed at Roath Lock, directed by Ashley Way (The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood). This was a humorous piece featuring Dan Starkey in his recurring role as the Sontaran Commander Strax, lecturing the audience about appropriate cinema etiquette.
On September 11th, it was revealed that the title of the special was now The Day Of The Doctor, forging an explicit link with The Name Of The Doctor and being marketable even to neophyte viewers who had no idea of the lore surrounding the Time War. By now, Coleman had asked to be credited as simply “Jenna Coleman” on Doctor Who, since this was how she was known in her personal life.
The final piece of filming for The Day Of The Doctor took place at Roath Lock on October 3rd. Moffat had realised that, with Capaldi now cast and announced to the public, he could slip another surprise into the anniversary special by having the Twelfth Doctor appear alongside his predecessors at the story's climax. No decisions had yet been made as to the new Doctor's appearance, so an extremely tight close-up of Capaldi's eyes was recorded on the TARDIS set.
This shot would form just one element of a complex sequence depicting all thirteen Doctors in their TARDISes. The First Doctor appeared in a video clip from The Daleks, but his dialogue was recorded by mimic John Guilor, who had filled in for Hartnell for a special feature on the 2012 DVD release of Planet Of Giants. The extract featuring the Ninth Doctor was derived from The Parting Of The Ways, while the Fourth and Eighth Doctors could be seen (but not heard) in extracts from Planet Of Evil and Doctor Who (1996), respectively. The other Doctors appeared courtesy a combination of video and audio clips from different sources: the Second Doctor from The Tomb Of The Cybermen (video) and The Seeds Of Death (audio), the Third Doctor from Colony In Space (video) and The Three Doctors (audio), the Fifth Doctor from Frontios (video) and The Five Doctors (audio), the Sixth Doctor from Attack Of The Cybermen (video and audio), and the Seventh Doctor from Battlefield (video and audio). The special would open with the original Doctor Who title sequence and theme tune from 1963.
Throughout the autumn, publicity for Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary gradually began to ramp up. The Eighth Doctor prequel, now called The Night Of The Doctor, was released online on November 14th. (This was two days earlier than intended, as it had been discovered that McGann's involvement was about to be leaked to the public.) On the 15th, a special two-minute excerpt from The Day Of The Doctor was screened as part of the BBC's annual Children In Need charity telethon.
But The Day Of The Doctor was only one amongst many programmes which would air on BBC television and radio, as well as on TV channels the world over, to celebrate the golden milestone. A twin bill of these productions aired on November 18th, with Professor Brian Cox hosting the fact-based The Science Of Doctor Who on BBC2, while the show's history was encapsulated in Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide on BBC3. The same day, a celebratory reception was held at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Sophie, the Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward. Amongst those in attendance were Tom Baker, Peter Davison, John Hurt, Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, Catherine Tate (who had played the Tenth Doctor's companion Donna Noble) and Steven Moffat.
On November 20th, the Gallifrey-set prequel for The Day Of The Doctor -- now titled The Last Day -- was made available through iTunes. On the 21st, BBC2 broadcast An Adventure In Space And Time, followed the next day by a Culture Show special entitled Me, You And Doctor Who presented by broadcaster and fan Matthew Sweet. November 22nd also marked the beginning of a massive three-day convention held at the ExCeL in London, which was attended by a plethora of stars from Doctor Who past and present.
The celebrations would even continue beyond the transmission of The Day Of The Doctor: immediately afterward, BBC3 would air Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty featuring a host of celebrities from the world of Doctor Who and beyond, while the comedic The Five(ish) Doctors -- Reboot was made available online and through the BBC's Red Button service. The brainchild of Peter Davison and starring himself, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy, the mockumentary chronicled their efforts to inveigle themselves into The Day Of The Doctor. It featured cameos as diverse as Paul McGann, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, Dan Starkey, Steven Moffat, Russell T Davies, John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), Peter Jackson and Ian McKellen (who worked with McCoy on The Hobbit film trilogy), Sean Pertwee and David Troughton (sons of Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton), Olivia Colman (Tennant's co-star on Broadchurch), a multitude of classic Doctor Who companions, and members of both the Davison and Baker families.
However, the centrepiece was The Day Of The Doctor, which aired on November 23rd precisely fifty years, two hours and thirty-four minutes after An Unearthly Child, the first episode of 100,000 BC, had begun its transmission. The special was a colossal success. Its 12.8 million viewers in the UK made it the most-watched Doctor Who broadcast since the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor, and it joined that year's Journey's End as the only Doctor Who episodes to reach the top of the ratings chart. Furthermore, The Day Of The Doctor was ultimately recognised as the most-watched drama of 2013 in Britain, and its global simulcast was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ever for a television drama. Its accomplishments weren't even confined to November 23rd: two days later, a number of additional North American theatrical screenings were held, and the resulting US$4.8 million in ticket sales trailed only The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the American and Canadian box office.
Although clips of the War Doctor from The Day Of The Doctor would appear in several subsequent stories, this would be John Hurt's only full outing in Doctor Who. But despite his brief screentime in the television programme proper, he reprised the character for a number of audio plays released by Big Finish Productions beginning in 2015. That same year, he was knighted by the Queen in recognition of his long and influential career in drama. Sadly, he was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and, although his cancer was soon in remission, his health continued to decline during 2016. One of Hurt's final roles was in the Oscar-nominated Jackie; he passed away on January 27th, 2017.
From the outset, Steven Moffat had wanted The Day Of The Doctor to not just reflect on where Doctor Who had been, but also generate new momentum for the journey to come. On screen, the Doctor had restored Gallifrey, and could now embark on the search for his home planet. Off screen, the countdown had begun to the last adventure of the Eleventh Doctor, with a brand new Doctor waiting in the wings. When it came to Doctor Who, one truth seemed irrefutable: as a wise man once said, it was far from being all over...
|Updated 27th January 2017|
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