Steven Moffat on what was up with Christopher Eccleston’s absence in ‘Day of the Doctor’

Two years to the day after the widely watched and celebrated “Doctor Who” 50th anniversary special aired, showrunner Steven Moffat is opening up a bit more about the making of that special, which came in a year Moffat has called nightmarish. (The guy was swamped making a lot of TV that year.)

In an interview with Radio Times, Moffat revealed that he almost convinced Christopher Eccleston to reprise his role as the Ninth Doctor in that special, which ended up featuring Matt Smith, David Tennant and the newly introduced War Doctor, played by John Hurt.

It didn”t come as a surprise that Eccleston – who left the show after one season and has not kept it a secret that he had some level of unhappiness being involved – chose to not partake in the making of “The Day of the Doctor.” And Moffat has said before that he met with Eccleston to discuss the 50th. But in this new interview the showrunner had a bit more to say about those meetings with Nine:

“I knew that Chris was almost certainly going to say no. I met him a couple of times and he was absolutely lovely. He met with me because he didn”t want to say no through his agent or a phone call or email. He wanted to do it personally. And I three-quarters talked him into it. So I started a version of it, but I got to a point where I could go no further unless it was going to be him. I went for another meeting with him, and he decided no. His reasons are his business and he”s a very private man. But it”s reasonable to say he really cares about ‘Doctor Who.” He”s well versed in what”s happened since he left, and happily chatted away about Amy Pond by name.”

Moffat also told Radio Times that mere weeks before production started on “Day of the Doctor,” he wasn”t sure that anyone who”s ever played the Doctor would even be in the special episode. He also talked about Hurt and about his son”s adorable meeting with Sylvester McCoy. You can read more of the interview here.