Steven Moffat tried REALLY hard to keep David Tennant in Doctor Who
The former showrunner explains why he rewrote his first series for the Tenth Doctor – and how he ended up reusing it years later instead
Recently, ex-Doctor Who boss Steven Moffat reminisced on an intriguing “what-if” moment from the show's history, revealing that ever-popular Doctor Who star David Tennant (who departed from the role in 2010) had considered staying on an extra year, meaning that he’d have appeared in Moffat’s first series instead of newcomer Matt Smith.
In this alternate version of Who, it was Tennant’s Doctor who crash-landed in Amy Pond’s back garden and took her on adventures, and the idea caught fans’ imaginations when Moffat first spoke about it a couple of weeks ago.
Now the screenwriter has revealed how close we actually got to seeing the Tenth Doctor for an extra year, explaining that he re-wrote the premise to accommodate Tennant before it was changed back or reworked for use in later series once he decided to finally leave.
“The idea that I had for David Tennant was the Matt Smith idea adapted,” Moffat told us at the annual Radio Times Covers Party.
“Because the reality was I thought it’d be a new Doctor, [but] David had his momentary wobble before he went on to legendary status in other things. So I reworked it so it could be David. Cos I’d have kept him if I could.
“It would have worked – we’d have made it work, definitely. I mean, I was pretty happy where we ended up with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, but frankly, as television has proven ever since you can never have too much David Tennant.”
And while we never saw this adventure in action, part of the idea – that the young Amy would meet a regenerating Doctor, and then re-meet him a long time before his death – did still end up in the series, forming the main arc of the 2011 run in which a much older Doctor is murdered by River Song before his younger self returns to the fray.
“Nothing is ever wasted, I reused the idea,” Moffat said.
“I thought it was a cool idea, that the Doctor you meet at the beginning of the series, you realise isn’t the one who’s current. He’s from episode 13. I did want to reuse that, I thought it was a cool idea.”
So in the end, some fragment of the hypothetical Tennant/Moffatt era survived. The rest will have to stay in our imaginations.
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 this autumn