To celebrate Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, we were introduced to John Hurt’s War Doctor, the battle-ready incarnation of the Time Lord that fought horrors his later selves chose to hide away in shame. But for an extra surprise, it also gave us the moment Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor transformed into him...but the tale was nearly rather different.
Ahead of the 15th anniversary rewatch of 'Rose', the very first story of Doctor Who’s modern revival, the BBC has officially released a short story Russell T. Davies originally wrote for Doctor Who Magazine that served as a bridge between the end of the Last Great Time War and the Ninth Doctor’s new era.
Written in the style of an old-school Doctor Who novelisation, the en media res extract was meant to read as if you’d turned to the last pages of Doctor Who and the Time War, a novel that never was, but told the story of the Eighth Doctor’s final moments. There was even a faux cover done in the style of those old Target books, by graphic designer Lee Binding.
But when Davies and the DWM team went to then-current showrunner Steven Moffat to discuss their idea...they found a problem. Moffat was already writing a new Doctor into his latest version of the 50th Anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”—the actual Doctor that would’ve ended the Time War. He didn’t even tell them that he’d also planned a short prequel to give Paul McGann’s Time Lord one last huzzah. And so, Davies’ story was left untold.
That is, until now. You can witness the moment that might have been—between the Eighth Doctor and The Moment, the weapon that ended the Time War once and for all—over on the official BBC website.