This weekend it will have been 50 years exactly since the first episode of British sci-fi serial Doctor Who aired on television and half a century of adventures through time and space began. With reunions of old cast members, an entire week’s worth of special anniversary shows across the BBC channels and radio stations and a staggering amount of hype building up to it, the stage is set for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special: ‘The Day of the Doctor.’
There may be one minor bump in the road, however, as one of the cast members appearing in the 50th Anniversary Special has dropped a MAJOR SPOILER pertaining to their character in a recent interview. Aside from the recent Doctor Who minisode, ‘The Night of the Doctor,’ which established John Hurt’s role in the lineage of Doctors, much of what will happen on ‘The Day of the Doctor’ has been kept a secret and many fans are eager to stay away from unofficially revealed details in favor of being surprised on Saturday.
For those who clicked on this story accidentally or out of a sudden wild temptation, this is the last chance to turn back. The spoiler is for an element of the episode that does not give away any specific plot details, but could offer further fuel for speculation on the plot and seems to be something that the BBC wanted to be kept very quiet. If you’d rather wait a few more days to find out, stop reading now.
[WARNING: MAJOR spoilers for Doctor Who ahead.]
This could actually be either a spoiler or a clever ruse, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Fourth Doctor Tom Baker revealed that Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt won’t be the only Doctors who make an appearance in the 50th Anniversary Special. Baker readily announced that:
“I am in the special. I’m not supposed to tell you that, but I tell you that very willingly and specifically; the BBC told me not to tell anybody but I’m telling you straightaway.”
Huffington Post followed up on Baker’s words in the interview by asking a BBC representative if what he’d said was true, but got neither a confirmation nor a denial. The rep responded cryptically, “As with William Hartnell’s recent appearance in the last season finale, anything is possible in ‘Doctor Who.’ But nothing is certain.”
Earlier this year, Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy stated rather grudgingly that he had not been invited back for the 50th Anniversary Special, and was confident that none of the other 2oth century Doctors had either, naming Tom Baker and Paul McGann specifically. Since we know for sure that Paul McGann was invited back after his appearance in ‘The Night of the Doctor,’ it makes sense that Baker might have been brought back as well.
Keeping a secret about anything in a TV show can be exhausting in the modern age, where nearly every phone has a camera, everyone has a Twitter account and only one crew member needs to break silence in order for spoilers to come spilling out. In an interview with the Radio Times, McGann admitted that ‘The Night of the Doctor’ was actually released sooner than it was supposed to be after showrunner Steven Moffat’s hand was forced by the threat of an imminent leak:
“What’s actually slightly disappointing is when you realize you can’t keep a secret now. And you know [the episode] should have gone out next week, but they had to put it out this week because someone was about to put it out… Steven Moffat presumably thought ‘I’ve gotta do something,’ so we released it.
“It wasn’t easy [to keep the secret]. I mean, a couple of mates knew, and I’m pretty good at keeping a secret, but of course so many people work on something – technicians and everybody else. I’m not pointing the finger, except I’m saying, somewhere along the line, someone couldn’t resist pressing send…”
Perhaps it was Baker, too, who let that cat out of the bag, but that’s by no means necessarily the case; a boat as big and as heavily loaded with cast and crew as Doctor Who is likely to spring more than one leak.
It’s also possible that Baker is just throwing out a red herring (though a rather cruel one, considering how well-loved the Fourth Doctor is), and that he’s not in the 50th Anniversary Special at all. It could also mean that he’s only in it for a split second, as a cameo or in archive footage. Remember Rule #1.
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special will be simulcast around the globe and screened in selected US theaters on November 23rd, 2013.