Apparently there is a limit to how much bounty Whovians can expect for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary. After securing the return of David Tennant and Billie Piper – the 10th Doctor and Rose Tyler – many wondered whether Christopher Eccleston – the 9th Doctor – would also make a return trip to the TARDIS. Now, it looks like that just isn’t going to happen.

Despite meeting with Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat “a couple of times”, Eccleston has officially passed on a chance to return to the show that he helped resurrect when he played the Doctor for one season in 2005.

An official statement from the BBC shoots down a report floated by The Daily Star – a UK tabloid – which had indicated that Eccleston had agreed to reprise his role and re-don his leather jacket before pulling out at the 11th hour. That initial report seems to have vanished from the Daily Star‘s website.

Naturally, Doctor Who fans would have been thrilled to get the somewhat brusk Time Lord back into the fold, but it’s also surprising that it got this close, as Eccleston (who will next be seen in Thor: The Dark World) hasn’t had the most cordial divorce from the series, previously going public with complaints about executives during his time on the show. Here’s what he had to say in July 2011 at a speaking engagement.

“I left because of politics. I did not see eye to eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle.”

Now, the execs that Eccleston didn’t see eye to eye with are long gone from the the Doctor Who production team by now (but not the BBC), so maybe that explains Eccleston’s faded hesitancy.  Still, his almost returning brings about other questions as well -questions about the content of the 50th Anniversary  – which won’t be answered for a long, long time. For instance: how Moffat would reconcile the appearance of a Doctor who doesn’t have a meta-crisis clone living in another universe.

Of course, Moffat could always timey-wimey away the specifics if he brought another Doctor back for the special, and of course the meta-crisis Doctor angle could wind up being a baseless theory – but that’s just one way this could break. One of many.

With the Anniversary Special still 7 1/2 months away, fans will be parsing every scintilla of information down to an atom, in pursuit of facts and information on this thing. In the end, Moffat and company will still have a ton of surprises that won’t leak out from now to then, and that the anticipation that comes with that is part of what makes this all exciting.

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The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special airs November 23rd on BBC America

Doctor Who airs on Saturday’s @8PM on BBC America

Source: Digital Spy, The Guardian