One of the beautiful things about Doctor Who is that years after an episode first airs, we can still find out so many fascinating behind-the-scenes details about it – and now, thanks to a new discussion between ex-series bosses Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat, we’ve learned a big secret about one 2008 story that nobody had spotted.
Chatting back and forth in Doctor Who Magazine, the two screenwriters revealed that in Moffat’s acclaimed 2008 episodes Silence in the Library/Forest of the, fans were actually being treated to a future version of the Doctor (then played by David Tennant), disguised as Colin Salmon’s character (actually a sentient satellite) Doctor Moon.
Confused? Well, we’ll let them explain it.
“When we were making Silence in the Library, you once told me the Very Last Scene Ever of Doctor Who. Does it still stand?” Davies asked Moffat.
As it turned out, this referred to a brief outline that Moffat had e-mailed Davies during production, imagining the future (and past) of the Doctor and Alex Kingston’s River Song, who made her first appearances in these episodes.
“In my head (and ONLY in my head, this will probably never appear on screen, or be confirmed in any way) River’s not just his wife – she’s his widow,” Moffat wrote at the time.
“Somewhere in the terrible future, on a battlefield, the 45th Doctor dies in her arms and makes her the same promise she once made him – it’s not over for you, you’ll see me again. So River buries her husband and off she goes to have lots of adventures with his younger selves and confuse the hell out of them.
“Until, of course, she ends up in the data core of the Library Planet, and realises she’ll never see him again. And then she starts to wonder why anyone would call a moon ‘Doctor.’ Ahhh…”
“Yeah, some version of that could still work,” Moffat continued. “The Doctor worrying that she’ll get lonely in the library, and popping his dying mind inside a moon. God, look at those words. I actually typed those words!!!!!!
“I can’t believe you didn’t remember!” Davies replied. “I’ve never forgotten that Doctor Moon thing, it’s so clever.
“Every time I watch that story, I think, it’s him, it’s the Doctor, and no-one knows!”
So yes, Colin Salmon IS the Doctor – sort of – and even if this idea never makes it to film, fans can now mentally reclass Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead as technically a multi-Doctor story. And we know how Whovians love a technicality…
Doctor Who returns to BBC One in late 2020/early 2021