DOCTOR WHO chief Steven Moffat shared more insight into the Doctor’s 50th anniversary story, “The Day of the Doctor,” with the current issue of SFX magazine, including the genesis of the Doctor played by John Hurt.
“Why not a mayfly Doctor, who exists for one show only? I’d often thought about that. Would it be weird in the run of the series to have the 45th Doctor turn up and be played by Johnny Depp or someone? Would that be a cool thing to do? There was also the idea that if you could bring one classic Doctor back, you’d actually, impossibly, want it to be [First Doctor] William Hartnell. You wouldn’t want any of the others. You’d want him to come and say ‘What in the name of God have I turned into?’ That’s the confrontation that you most want to see, to celebrate 50 years.
“Going round and round in circles on it I just thought ‘What about a Doctor that he never talks about?’ And what if it is a Doctor who’s done something terrible, who’s much deadlier and more serious, who represents that thing that is the undertow in both David [Tennant] and Matt [Smith]? You know there’s a terrible old man inside them.
“Well, here he is, facing the children he becomes, as it were.”
I think it’s pretty obvious why there has never before been a “mayfly Doctor”: Producers didn’t want to waste an entire regeneration on one story. Even if it makes sense that over the course of the 1,000-plus years the Doctor has been around, there must have been a situation when one of his incarnations did not last very long — perhaps just one adventure.
This explanation also could be taken as more proof that Moffat is doing away with the 12 regeneration limit — especially his comment about a 45th Doctor!