Now that “The Day of the Doctor” has passed, it’s time to talk about one obvious omission: Christopher Eccleston. The immediate reaction is going to be, “But Eccleston was there!” While that moment with all of the other Doctors was wonderful, it was little more that a clever re-purposing of “Doctor Who” archival footage. It’s still great, but really just leaves Whovians wanting more.
Steven Moffat has said for a while that Eccleston wouldn’t appear in the special, but that’s the exact kind of redirect one would expect. Then, as the episode began coming to a close, John Hurt’s War Doctor began his regeneration and minds started melting. This was that moment, there would be a shot of Eccleston in the TARDIS and all would be right.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. As Hurt started going gold, it cut back to 10 and 11 to wrap up their story. The whole episode was great storytelling, but that one moment at the end couldn’t feel like anything but a letdown. Fans know what happens after Hurt regenerates, but the tease was just too much. Especially since you can see below that they went out of their way to make it look like Eccleston was coming.
The silliest thing of all is it would have taken Eccleston a couple hours to shoot. Moffat says he spoke with Eccleston about appearing but the actor “didn’t feel that he could come back to it.” While Eccleston has been open in the past about his experience shooting the show, it’s an entirely different team now and, again would have taken no time at all to get it done.
Like it or not Christopher, you’re part of a very exclusive club with a gigantic following of people who are going to love you forever because of it. Furthermore, if production knew that Eccleston wasn’t going to appear, don’t tease the fans. These poor nerd hearts can only take so much. After how high they were flying throughout this fantastic special, surely a couple of them popped.