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Doctor Who’s 60th: Why Aren’t We Reporting that Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, and Capaldi Are Back?

You’ll probably have heard the rumours by now: some news outlets are reporting that Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi are all returning to Doctor Who to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary.

These rumours came from The Sun tabloid newspaper, which many take with a pinch of salt purely because it’s a tabloid — but remember that fellow tabloid, The Mirror, has often got Doctor Who news right, primarily when Doctors and showrunners (notably Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat, Jodie Whittaker, and Chris Chibnall) are due to leave.

But here at the DWC, we absolutely refuse to report on these rumours. We won’t even mention that there are rumours, in fact. And we most certainly wouldn’t link to The Sun and quote them like this:

I can reveal [the Thirteenth Doctor’s] replacement will hardly appear in the show when it returns in 2023.

Instead, it is set to play host to a string of former time lords in a series of specials marking the series’ 60th birthday.

As the rumour mill has already suggested, that’s likely to see Jodie pass the baton to David Tennant, but it could also see a comeback by Matt Smith, Christopher Eccleston and Peter Capaldi.

It’s a dream scenario for megafan and showrunner Russell T Davies, who clearly wants a repeat of 1983’s feature-length 20th anniversary special, The Five Doctors – which starred a quintet of ex-time lords [sic].

The four rumoured to come back, of course, played the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors. And the 60th anniversary takes place in November 2023, and will see former showrunner, Russell T Davies, come back to kickstart a new era of the show.

Some other Doctor Who sites are even quoting the supposed “TV insider” that The Sun is quoting! I know, scandalous! And if you’re tempted to look elsewhere for that quote, I wouldn’t bother if I were you as it merely says something like:

“The BBC wanted something unique to mark six decades of Doctor Who and while getting all the former time lords together will be a challenge, it’s one Russell might just achieve.

“After all, he was the man responsible for signing up Christopher and David back in 2005, and he is one of the few people who might convince them to be a part of the show again.

“It remains to be seen if he can achieve an exact copy of The Five Doctors, but he will certainly want to capture some of the spirit of that landmark episode in these specials.”

See? Not worth the hassle, is it?

So, you might be thinking, “But DWC, we trust you to bring all the latest news to us. Why would you forsake us in such an irresponsible fashion?” Well, we’ll tell you why.

This isn’t news. It’s rumour. And it’s also very very unlikely.

Why? Because, while we can see Tennant and Smith returning for the show’s 60th anniversary, we can’t see Capaldi doing so; he’s said in the recent past that he doesn’t feel it’s right for him to come back, certainly so shortly after the Twelfth Doctor’s regeneration. As for Eccleston, the behind-the-scenes politics pushed him away from Doctor Who, leading to a fractious relationship with Davies — he even said he’d never work with him again. So with Davies back, it’s highly doubtful that Christopher would return too.

Saying that, we can totally see some familiar faces returning. Maybe Richard E Grant, the Metacrisis Doctor, Mr Clever, the Valeyard, the Curator, the DoctorDonna, Big Poppa Smurf, Third Dalek from the Left, the fifth Beatle, the Foamasi, the “T” in RTD, the Leader of the Republic of Great Britain, the TARDIS Lego set, Dapol Davros, Spock, and the Familiar Faceless Ones.

I guess we’ll see. But we won’t report on any of that until there’s an official confirmation leaked by an intern at the BBC. Maybe Greg. You know what he’s like.

Expect plenty more rumours we simply refuse to report on before the actual 60th anniversary next year.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Doctor Who’s 60th: Why Aren’t We Reporting that Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, and Capaldi Are Back?

by Philip Bates time to read: 3 min
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