It’s fair to say that last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special had rather a lot to do, with Twice Upon a Time functioning as Peter Capaldi’s final farewell to the Twelfth Doctor, an introduction for new Time Lord Jodie Whittaker, as well as an appropriately festive adventure for viewers to enjoy.
So perhaps it’s no surprise to learn that then-showrunner Steven Moffat and the production team ended up with a lot more material than usual, with the screenwriter revealing that he was forced to cut nearly half an hour from the finished episode to make it fit the running time.
“We cut half an hour for time,” Moffat said in a YouTube interview to promote a new range of Target novelisations he was involved with.
“[Screenwriter Paul Cornell] had a slightly murderous time,” Moffat said, “because we were no way near finishing the show.”
Cutting material is standard practice for TV productions – deleted scenes wouldn’t exist if not – but it’s fair to say this must have been a particularly tricky circle to square, with fellow ex-Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies expressing dismay at just how much material Moffat had been forced to remove.
“Half an hour!?!” Davies asked.
“Yeah, it was longer than Dunkirk. And I actually mean the historical event, not the movie,” Moffat joked.
“It was very long.”
In the end, Twice Upon a Time was the usual hour expected of a Christmas special – but we can’t help but wonder what the movie-length version would have looked like.
For now, we’ll have to make do with the deleted scenes that were released on the episode’s DVD – and take some comfort in the fact that a bit of the extra material lives on in Cornell’s novel version of Twice Upon a Time.
The Target novelisations also feature Russell T Davie adapting his own episode Rose, while Moffat has written a version of 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.