If a baseless rumor is repeated often enough, should we take it more seriously? Doctor Who‘s fiftieth anniversary will be marked with a one-off special airing this November. For some time now, we’ve been hearing that it will feature an epic team-up of all eleven Doctors, including the three dead ones, William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, though the use of digital trickery.
The latest repetition of the claim comes from Britain’s Birmingham Mail, which backs up its story by citing a recent interview with 10th Doctor, David Tennant, in which he denied being involved, but then gave a ‘knowing wink’ to the interviewer. Yes, that sounds solid enough.
Of course, it’s not an unprecedented idea. Doctor Who anniversaries have always been celebrated with multiple Doctors, starting with the tenth, and a serial called ‘The Three Doctors,’ which starred the three now-departed cast members. The twentieth upped the ante with ‘The Five Doctors,’ which recast William Hartnell, and featured Tom Baker only through recycled footage, as he wanted no part of it. When the 30th rolled around, the series was waning in popularity, and only merited a 13 minute mini-reunion with five Doctors which aired as part of the Children in Need telethon. By the time of the 40th, it was off the air entirely.
Digital technology has advanced considerably since the 20th anniversary had to resort to recasting. An episode of Deep Space Nine, ‘Trials and Tribble-Ations‘ inserted modern actors into footage from Star Trek: The Original Series with fantastic results, and that was made 17 years ago. With some effort and a decent budget (which I’d think the BBC would be willing to commit to for one of its most successful properties ever), and all-Doctor mash-up could work out really well.