TV One of the discussion points for the 50th anniversary special is whether we’ll finally see the regeneration between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors, from Paul McGann to Christopher Eccleston.
Apart from the fact this would require the casting of two actors who aren’t currently playing the Doctor and some kind of tricksy flashback structure to incorporate such a scene into the story and for Steven Moffat to think that it’s a good idea, it would also spoil one of the great new mysteries of the revived series.
It also ignores the fact that, to an extent, we can’t see the series’ first regeneration either.
We could once. Indeed we did, at least those of us who are old enough.
On 29th October 1966, BBC One broadcast the regeneration of William Hartnell into Patrick Troughton.
Except since then, the tapes have been wiped and through a strange coincidence, neither that episode or the following one still exist the BBC’s archive, partly because episode four of The Tenth Planet was one of the least sold internationally so there were less copies lying around.
Not that this helped Marco Polo much.
Bits of it do survive. A clip was utilised in an episode of Blue Peter. The BBC kept that episode of Blue Peter. We also have a short silent cine recording from episode one of Power of the Daleks so we can at least see Patrick’s first grin.
They were edited together and tacked onto the reconstruction of The Tenth Planet that was released on VHS at the turn of the millenium, along with the audio from some off-air recordings.
But it’s not the same, because it never could be.
Rather than film a regeneration which doesn’t need to be seen, perhaps the better way to celebrate the 50th would be for us to somehow find a regeneration which should.
You never know.