How reliable is that site? Can't help but wonder if someone just made that story up on the back of Eccleston's tongue-in-cheek remark about returning for the 100th anniversary if Ahearne directed. Then again, I also wonder if Eccleston's joke was prompted by the original request.
That report first surfaced on Doctor Who Archive on the 9th
. Doctor Who Is Epic
lifted it wholecloth.
I think this was a story that took a lot of different known facts -- Eccleston met with Moffat and passed on the special, Eccleston said he would do the 100th-anniversary special if Ahearne directed, Moffat shouted at Skinner "You are erased from Doctor Who
at a BBC function and she was reassigned to London -- tossed them into a blender, and made connections that aren't actually there.
I don't know if I said it here or at Gallifrey Base at the time, so I'll say it again. Signing Eccleston wasn't going to be like signing any other guest star. Eccleston wasn't going to appear just because he was free and needed the work. He would want things. It's the same problem the Star Trek
movies had; if Harve Bennett wanted Sulu, he'd have to meet the price George Takei had (which usually involved some sort of meaningful scene). If Moffat wanted the Ninth Doctor, he was going to have to negotiate with Eccleston, sell him on appearing, and find some sort of common ground. I don't see Ahearne as a "make or break" demand; that really seems to me to be a "this would be nice" demand. I can, however, see a meaningful role and a finished script (so that Eccleston could judge whether or not the role was, in fact, meaningful) as a "make or break" demand. If Moffat was unable to provide Eccleston with a script, Eccleston would have shrugged and moved on.
I think that what we got worked out for the best, though. We got John Hurt as the Doctor! According to the new DWM
, Hurt did, in fact, fill the narrative role that Eccleston would have filled. We wouldn't have had John Hurt in "The Day of the Doctor," and a world without John Hurt as the Doctor, especially a world without pictures of a boozy John Hurt and a Dalek in Buckingham Palace, scarcely bears thinking of.