A short story by Russell T Davies – giving his own take on the end of the Time War – was released yesterday to celebrate fifteen years since Doctor Who returned.
Yesterday, Doctor Who fans around the world celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the New Series. Along with taking part in a grand rewatch at 7PM GMT, there were several bonuses released throughout the day, including a couple of short stories by former showrunner Russell T Davies. One of these, Revenge of the Nestene, acted as a sequel to series opener Rose.
But perhaps the most intriguing item released yesterday was a prequel story. Written back in 2013, the story has never been released before until now. Why not? Because it depicts the end of the Time War – a very different ending to what we saw on screen in The Day of the Doctor.
So how was this created? As revealed by Russell T Davies on the BBC’s official Doctor Who website, it began as a suggestion by Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury. It was meant to be for a special issue to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the series. Something that would address the end of the Time War, and even reveal how the Eighth Doctor regenerated into the Ninth!
An alternative take
Initially, Davies was reluctant to handle such a major point in continuity. But eventually, he agreed to write the story. Taking the form of the very end of a Target novel – even beginning in mid-sentence – the short story gives us a glimpse of the Time War as envisioned by Russell T Davies.
There are mentions of the Nightmare Child, the Master’s resurrection, and there’s even an explanation for why the Doctor’s 900 years old – despite the fact that he was noticeably older in his seventh incarnation! So there’s a lot of thought put into it, and on top of that, the “Novel That Never Was” as Davies describes it even has a cover, thanks to Lee Binding.
So why wasn’t this story published before? Well, you can probably guess why, considering what the fiftieth-anniversary special focused on. So when Tom Spilsbury tried to run it past Steven Moffat, the showrunner wasn’t exactly keen for something to be published that would clash with the actual episode. Even though, as Russell T Davies admits, both himself and Spilsbury had no idea that Moffat would want to explore the Time War, particularly the final days of it.
How could we have known? That The Day of the Doctor would have an extra Doctor, a War Doctor? And Steven didn’t even tell us about Night of the Doctor, he kept that regeneration a complete surprise! He just said, sorry, can you lay off that whole area? I agreed, harrumphed, went to bed and told him he was sleeping on the settee that night.
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Bringing old material to a new audience
And so it remained unread. That is, until yesterday. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the New Series, Emily Cook from Doctor Who Magazine organized a grand re-watch, just as she did for The Day of the Doctor on Saturday. Even better, she was able to get Russell T Davies involved. When she asked if he had any material to offer, Davies knew exactly what to use.
By some miracle this file still existed. Lee still had his illustration (naturally, because he was under a Binding contract, oh I’m so funny). And strangely, looking back, it’s funny how things fit; the Moment is described here as oak and brass, which isn’t far from the final idea (I don’t mean Billie). I wonder; I suspect, without realising, if Steven and I were both riffing off Eighth Doctor-style designs, maybe..?
So we’ve finally been able to discover for ourselves exactly how Russell T Davies had imagined the end of the Time War. Does it live up to, or perhaps even exceed Steven Moffat’s depiction of it? You can find out for yourself here.
Are you glad that this alternative take on the Time War’s end has finally been revealed? Do you prefer it to how Steven Moffat depicted it? Or are you glad at what we got on-screen? Let us know in the comments below.