From the moment anyone first heard about Doctor Who’s upcoming 50th anniversary episode, one of the first questions anyone thought to ask was, “Which Doctors will be involved?” It’s hardly unprecedented for the various actors who have played the legendary Time Lord over the years to share the screen in a mutual adventure. It’s happened before in inventively named serials such as The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors. It has yet, however, to happen in the “modern” incarnation of the show that kicked off with Christopher Eccleston’s tenure. A 50th anniversary episode seems like a perfect excuse to reunite Doctors both old and new in an epic adventure, but so far only Tenth Doctor David Tennant has been confirmed to be sharing the screen with the Eleventh, Matt Smith. That leaves surviving former Doctor actors Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and Paul McGann out in the cold. But now Davison is claiming that he does have some sort of involvement in the 50th anniversary, claiming also to have a copy of the script for the special episode “which has got my name embossed across it.” But does that really mean he’ll be putting in an appearance in “The Day of the Doctor?”
Prior to Davison’s recent comments, those former Doctor actors kept insisting they hadn’t been approached to join “Day of the Doctor” in any capacity. In fact, they’ve frequently voiced their dismay that that haven’t been asked to participate, and only last week Davison, Colin Baker, and McCoy were photographed protesting outside of BBC TV Centre, holding up signs reading “No Classics? No 50th!” and “Have a heart, Classic Doctors want a part!” Many assumed that it was a publicity stunt rather than a legitimate act of protest, and Davison’s comments in the aftermath certainly seem to support that theory. Davison dropped the bomb that he had a personal copy of the 50th special episode during an interview on Daybreak. He otherwise said he couldn’t comment on any rumors, insisting only that fans “should keep their eye open for around the 50th-anniversary special!”
That, of course, is not the same thing as Davison confirming that he’ll have a role in the special. The very next day, this past Friday, September 13, Davison added more fuel to the fire, telling BANG showbiz:
I’m making an appearance somewhere over that period of time but I can’t reveal in what. I can’t reveal anything specific about it. I’m not allowed to. It is a big year for the show and we’re all doing our bit for it. Trust me.
Some are reporting those quotes as confirmation that Davison will appear in “Day of the Doctor,” but are they really? He confirms “an appearance somewhere over that period of time,” but doesn’t provide any details. His having a copy a copy of the script, combined with those comments, certainly seem to suggest that, but since no one has specifically, directly said, “Peter Davison will be appearing in the 50th anniversary special episode,” it seems to me that this could just as easily be describing an appearance in some sort of “making of” or “history of the show” special, much like the individual retrospective Doctor specials that BBC America has been airing since the beginning of the year.
But let’s assume he did mean to confirm that he’ll be in the anniversary special episode with Smith and Tennant. Does that mean the other surviving Doctors be along for the ride as well? It’s worth highlighting the last bit of that quote above: “It is a big year for the show and we’re all doing our bit for it. Trust me.” That could certainly imply that he might not be the only “classic” Doctor to be making an appearance. There were already rumors that Eighth Doctor Paul McGann would have a small part in the episode — and what we know about John Hurt’s role would make that a sensible inclusion — so could the Classic Doctors have been signed on from the get-go? Maybe all those denials and complaints were just to stir up publicity and keep Who fans in the dark. It’s a possibility I’d love to see be proven true, but I don’t think Davison’s comments necessarily confirm anything on that front. Hey, here’s hoping I’m wrong. Maybe they’ll really blow our minds and have the seemingly disinterested Eccleston playing a major role just to punk the lot of us.
We’ll find out one way or another when “The Day of the Doctor” finally airs on November 23. Whether the classic Doctors will be making a surprise appearance or not, they will be teaming up for The Light at the End, a new Doctor Who audio drama from Big Finish set to be released this November.