Steven Moffat publishes Christopher Eccleston version of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary script

The former showrunner has made available part of his draft script for charity project A Second Target for Tommy, and there are some interesting changes

Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)

Ex-Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston has been chatting about his time in the Tardis quite a lot recently, suggesting that tensions on set led to his early exit from the sci-fi drama.

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In the end, his Ninth Doctor only lasted one series, but he very nearly came back for another instalment – 2013’s 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor, which then showrunner Steven Moffat wrote with Eccleston in mind before the actor turned it down and John Hurt’s War Doctor was written into the role instead.

Now, though, Moffat has revealed exactly what the episode might have looked like with the Ninth Doctor in the saddle, publishing the script of a scene from the anniversary special where the Doctor first meets the Moment (played by Billie Piper as Rose Tyler in the finished story) in A Second Target For Tommy, a book released by friends and colleagues of author Tommy Danvaband to help support him in his fight against cancer.

“While novelising Day of the Doctor, I went back through all the many drafts of the script, and I found this version of the barn scene,” Moffat wrote in his introduction.

“The Moment is clearly not Rose Tyler in this draft, and the barn itself has a different, erm, origin. If barns can be said to have origins.

“But the other big difference is the one that people might get a kick out of.

“Hope you enjoy, but please do keep in mind this is the roughest of early drafts…”

In the script, the scene proceeds much as it does in the finished episode (down to a lot of the jokes), but key differences reflect the Ninth Doctor’s particular idiolect and character. Take a look at this first fragment for an example.

THE NINTH DOCTOR

Don’t sit on that.

RAGGEDY GIRL

Why not?

He strides over to her, grabs her arm.

THE NINTH DOCTOR

Because it’s not a chair, love – it’s the most dangerous weapon in the universe.

Can you imagine the stately War Doctor calling anyone “love”? And later there are even a few callbacks to the Ninth Doctor’s first words in 2005 episode Rose, which were commanding Rose Tyler to “Run!” before also commenting with disbelief at the large ears of his new regeneration.

THE NINTH DOCTOR

Listen. A very bad thing is gonna happen here and I’m not sure how it’s gonna work. But I don’t think you want to be here when it does, okay?

RAGGEDY GIRL

…you’ve got a funny face.

THE NINTH DOCTOR

You should see the other fellas.

RAGGEDY GIRL

I like it though.

THE NINTH DOCTOR

Thanks, it’s new. Not sure about the ears yet, they just sort of kept going. Now, you need to get away from here. You need to pick a direction and just run –

The latter gag also helps place the Ninth Doctor early in his new body – possibly right after regenerating from Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor – as opposed to Hurt’s War Doctor, who was depicted as battling through most of the Time War before deciding to act decisively.

RAGGEDY GIRL

You sound clever

THE NINTH DOCTOR

Not clever enough to figure out how this thing works, so could you give us some hush?

The script fragment offers an intriguing window into a parallel world of Doctor Who where Eccleston DID return, but we were also denied the joys of Hurt’s War Doctor appearance – and if you’d like to wrap your head around that difficult proposition, you can read much more of the scene in A Second Target For Tommy, which is on sale now for a very good cause.

The concept of the book is loosely based on the popular Target publishing imprint, which provided novelisations of Doctor Who serials for decades and remains fondly remembered by fans. Aside from the script it will also include short stories from over two dozen writers including Jay Eales, Eddie Robson and Kate Orman. A previous version of the project, A Target for Tommy, was released in 2016.

And if you want a copy (and lack either Tardis or Vortex Manipulator) you’d better act fast – at the time of writing only a handful of physical copies are available, and they haven’t printed an endless supply. Still, it’s definitely worth the effort for a quick look at alternate Whoniverse history. Try your luck at buying one here.

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Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this autumn