Nov 30 2012 3:45pm

Is “The Eleven Doctors” Really the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Episode?

Blogtor Who—a solid Doctor Who fansite—briefly posted a round-up of rumors relating to the 50th Anniversary episode of the show. Among these rumors was a massive revelation that the much-anticpated episode will feature all 11 incarnations of the Doctor and indeed be called “The Eleven Doctors.”

Further, this report went on to say two version of the script were in development due to the contingency of Christopher Eccelston being involved/not involved. These reports also state that the 50th Anniversary will start filming this Feburary, and Matt Smith's Doctor will regenerate at the turn of 2013/2014. 

Now, all of these rumors sound fairly unsubstantiated, but they're not ridiculous. All 11 Doctors could appear either through re-used footage, Forest Gump-style insertion of contemporary Doctors into old footage, Tron:Legacy-style CG-young versions, or new footage! What's strange is that Blogtor Who took the post down, even though they copped to the fact these were only rumors. This makes some of us think that maybe too much information go leaked out...

What do you think?

Thanks to Bleeding Cool for catching the post before it went down. 

(Doctor Who fan art by Andy Lambert on deviantArt.)

Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
The biggest bummer about this episode will be not seeing it quickly, so I'll run into lots of spoilers.

People in the UK are the lucky ones for this show.
Uncle Mikey
2. Uncle Mikey
Part of me thinks this is really not a good idea. It's a gimmick, and DW is always at its WORST when it's beign gimmicky. Which is why all three existing multi-Doctor stories are really not all that good. They're all fun to watch, but you really have to switch your critical brain off more than usual.

On the other hand, with the technology the Restoration Team has been bringing to bear on the old material (I'm pretty sure the surviving live-action eps of The Invasion, for example, look better now than when they were broadcast!), it would be genuinely feasible, I think, to mix and match and insert elements from modern production techniques and older footage.

The trickiest, most time-consuming bit to get right would be colourising the B&W material. If they picked their footage carefully, using episodes for which colour photographs exist to give us some reference to what colours were intended, though, I think it could be a lot of fun to see, at least.
Uncle Mikey
3. StrongDreams
4 minutes of screen time each? Or does 11 rule the episode and make a bunch of 15 second FaceTime calls to his former selves? I understand the appeal for some, but it's not grabbing me.
Uncle Mikey
4. Rancho Unicorno
I'm not worried about the rumor being true or not. I want to know why Patrick Troughton's face has been cut off in header image. Stubby, I am disappoint.
Uncle Mikey
5. NormanM
If they get David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston to both show up, that'll be good for me. Maybe some quick flashbacks to other doctors, but just give all three of the New Who Doctors some interesting stuff to work with.
Uncle Mikey
6. JeffR60
A 3 doctors movie focused on Eccleston, Tennant & Smith that deals with some fallout from the time war that explains the time war and 9's bitterness would be a great multi-doctor movie. (Maybe 4 doctors, bringing in 8/McGann related to the time war.)
Uncle Mikey
7. Nicholas Winter
Given the intense tightness at the BBC over everything about this show, I'm not buying any rumors no matter how respected the source is. We'll know what's going on when the Beeb wants us to know, not a second sooner!
Uncle Mikey
8. rushmc
If there is NO attempt at some kind of multi-Doctor story for the anniversary, I'm going to be very, very disappointed... New fans may not "get it" until they see it, but us old-timers expect it.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
If they bring any Doctor back, it should be McGann. He deserves another canonical appearance. (I was disappointed that, during that season when Tennant couldn't participate full-time, they didn't do a prequel season focusing on McGann and maybe building up to the Time War.)
Uncle Mikey
10. Nicholas Winter
Since a number of the actors who played The Raggedy Man are dead now, they can't bring back all the Doctors anyways. The most they can is make references (and jazz up old video of them which is dodgy in its own way) to them.
Uncle Mikey
11. Sanagi
If they do this like Trials and Tribble-ations, where D11 has to weave through a bunch of old storylines, that could be pretty great. Better, I think, than to try and give all the Doctors a lot of screen time.
Ian Johnson
12. IanPJohnson
The number of comments on this post seems appropriate.

It's eleven.

Uncle Mikey
13. Nicholas Winter
I like Sanagi's idea a lot as you could have a storythat mentions all the incarnations without actually using footage of all of them. If I remember correctly, even The Three Doctors episode had to use archived footage of that Doctor as Hartnell wasn't well enough to film new footage.
Christopher Bennett
14. ChristopherLBennett
@13: No, Hartnell did record a small amount of new footage for "The Three Doctors." He showed up on a monitor a couple of times and offered the Second and Third Doctors some guidance and wisdom.

It was in "The Five Doctors" that Hartnell was seen in archive footage, with his memorable farewell speech to Susan being shown at the beginning, although Richard Hurndall played the First Doctor in the story proper. Also, Tom Baker was represented by footage from the unaired "Shada" because he declined to participate.
Matt Diamond
15. MattDiamond
@10 They did use an actor to portray Hartnell in the Five Doctors, so that' another option. I'm surprised the article didn't mention that possibility; seems more likely than CGI.

The real problem though is how to fit all the Doctors into the script. The emphasis is likely to be on the recent ones anyway, so I don't think they'll work too hard for the ones that are no longer available. Some will likely have to be cameos.

Companions add yet another complication. The script could spend two hours just on fanservice and still not have time to develop a coherent story. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in other words.) So I personally I would ditch the companions angle entirely.

I think the perfect solution would have been to give each doctor (the ones willing to appear, or easily faked) their own episode in a season-long arc. Maybe the earlier ones would track a slow-burning storyline that culminates with the Time War, and the subsequent doctors would be dealing with fallout. The stories would all be linked by a particular person or artifact. E.g. "The Moment" or "Nightmare Child" or one of the other Time War-related things mentioned in "The End of Time pt 2".

(I know it's never going to happen, but a man can dream, can't he?)
Uncle Mikey
16. Jennifer M Faith
I loved it when they did a brief facial montage of each of the doctors in "The Next Doctor" & "The Eleventh Hour". To me that was enough - just a bit to send chills zinging up the spine. Too include all eleven doctors even in a 2-hour special would be overkill & ridiculous, never mind all the past companions. I think it whould be a grandiose episode, something that marks it as a monumental event but there's a fine line between grand & campy. It has to be a good story regardless of who they all include. If the story sucks even all eleven doctors won't be able to save it!

On a related note, has anyone heard any more about the rumor of a young Jack Harkness appearing in this special?
Uncle Mikey
17. fendjinn
"@10 They did use an actor to portray Hartnell in the Five Doctors, so
that' another option. I'm surprised the article didn't mention that
possibility; seems more likely than CGI."

Nope, disagree. When Hartnell was replaced he hadn't played the Doctor for a decade and had been dead for years, video recorders were brand new, DVD boxed sets were years aways and "Doctor Who" was still on TV so you didn't have the almost continuous loop of repeats we have today. In other words you could get away with an actor who resembled him as a replacement because people were only *remembering* his actual face.

Today most viewers (and all fans) are very familiar with how all of them looked, we've all seen at least photos and their images have appeared in the episodes themselves a couple of times. To replace them you'd need to acknowledge it within the episode in some way I think (one option might be to tie the "almost flesh" being used to create "almost replicas" into the story somehow). Besides which, you'd just end up with other actors doing an *impression* of someone else's take on an ongoing character and if you're doing that, why have a multi-Doctor story at all ?
Uncle Mikey
18. fonz02152001
@17: To expound a bit further, I think it was agreed amongst all that one of the biggest failings of 'The Five Doctors' was the very fact that a stand-in was used for Hartnell. I watched it and thought Hurndall did a decent job myself, however his interpretation was quite a bit tamer than Hartnell's actual character was. Basically, no-one plays a role quite like the person who originally played it.

That being said, I think that what the BBC is doing is good enough as it is. Sorry, folks, but it's already been confirmed that the big '11 Doctors' special you're begging for is NOT going to happen. David Tennant and Billie Piper are confirmed appearances, with rumors about of a possible return of Paul McGann, however all the surviving Doctors have stated that they haven't even been asked to appear. The BBC has probably taken a cue from the shortcomings of 'The Five Doctors' and 'Dimensions In Time' and decided that having one adventure with that many leads is almost a guarantee for failure. Doesn't mean that the Classic DW is being ignored, however. All this year BBC America is airing 'The Doctor's Revisited' specials which highlight serials from each Doctor. 'The Aztecs', 'The Tomb of the Cybermen', 'Spearhead From Space' and 'Pyramids of Mars' have already been screened in this manner, with 'Earthshock' set to screen at the end of this month. Also, to coincide with the 50th Anniversary story a special docu-drama entitled 'An Adventure in Space and Time' will be aired, which will focus on telling the story of Doctor Who's beginnings. This special will also feature special appearances by William Russell and Carole Ann Ford, who starred as Ian Chesterton and Susan Foreman respectively in the 1st season of Classic DW. Plus, Big Finish is set to shortly release a 50th Anniversary audio of there own, which specifically focuses on just the Classic Series doctors. So, there is plenty in store for fans of Old Who and New Who alike. I suggest everyone check them out! :)

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