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Steven Moffat Breaks Silence On That Shocking Doctor Who Reveal

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff

Holy crap! Did you watch the minisode prequel to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special yet? Go do that NOW. Then come back and read bits from the BBC’s interview with Steven Moffat about how that surprise was able to stay a surprise. 

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So Moffat lies. This is a fact. In this instance, his lies made a lot of Doctor Who fans really happy. As we mentioned, there was a big shocker today, and while The Mary Sue doesn’t consider official announcements from studios and such to be spoilers, we did want to warn you once more to watch the minisode first. All set?

Paul McGann got to play the Doctor in live-action once more. Huzzah! How the hell did they keep this a secret? Back in April, the actor admitted to still having no word from the BBC or Moffat as to any possible involvement in the anniversary. However, he did say if he was to be asked, it would probably happen very quickly. And so it did.

The BBC blog has an interview up where Moffat tells all (or so we think).

Well, we had our new ‘hidden mystery’ Doctor and I was thinking, what else can we do for our anniversary year… I thought… Why don’t we get Paul McGann in and regenerate him into John Hurt? I’d like to see that! I’d love to see that! And we had this possibility that we could do it as a surprise, so we got in touch with Paul who was dead keen and I’m delighted to say he was so happy to join in with the idea of keeping it secret. He was childishly excited about it!

Paul came along and shot it – it was the last two days of the shoot for the fiftieth, actually. He did a wonderful job. It was great! We designed a new costume for him based on his old one. Howard Burden did a fantastic job with that.

And as for keeping the secret, Moffat said, “We were phenomenally secret with the making of it! And I’m sure some people are a bit cross that we were so secretive but the fact is, there is only one way to ensure you keep a secret, and that’s to keep it! So, we kept it very tight and we hope it all came as great surprise to everyone.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – I don’t mind not knowing Doctor Who bits they want to keep secret but I do mind flat-out lies. I’d much rather prefer all parties to simply say “no comment,” when asked about plots or casting they’d rather not give away.

Of course now this leaves us in a very interesting place. They lied about/kept McGann’s appearance a secret, could there be more surprises to come? Christopher Eccleston and John Barrowman have said they’re not involved, as have other past Doctors, so now I don’t know what to believe or expect. Check out the rest of the interview for some more background on the 8th Doctor and the minisode itself.

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."

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