Why weren’t Tom Baker, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi in The Power of the Doctor?

The Power of the Doctor certainly lived up to its billing of “one for the Whovians” as the BBC centenary special not only saw a shock regeneration of Jodie Whittaker to David Tennant and the arrival of many favourite companions from Doctor Who past – but also cameos by almost every living classic Who Doctor. The onus here is on the word almost, because fans were quite aware that there was one of the greats of TARDIS history who wasn’t involved.

Although as the Master messed with the regeneration process we saw “vestiges’ of classic Doctors played by Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann, as well as obviously the big reveal of David Tennant being back in the blue box – it couldn’t help but be noticed that Tom Baker, the actor who played the Fourth Doctor was nowhere to be seen.

Baker, who played the lead role in the BBC sci-fi series for much of the 1970s and is widely considered to be one of the best ever to have played the TARDIS was apparently asked back, but wasn’t available. He had of course returned to the show for the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor in 2012 (pictured above).

“We asked Tom, but sadly he could not do it. He was not available. Such a shame” Chris Chibnall, the outgoing showrunner explained to the Mirror.

Chibnall also explained why despite the huge number of returning characters in the show he hadn’t brought back Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi because he knew that the 60th-anniversary specials were being planned for 2023 and he didn’t want to inadvertently spoil the next era of the show. Perhaps a clue that we might be seeing the Eleventh Doctor turn up in the story in 2023, even if Peter Capaldi has at this point apparently ruled himself out of any multi-Doctor story.

In addition to this, could that mean we might be seeing some modern Doctor Who companions in 2023 too? Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Billie Piper, Jenna Coleman? They’d all be welcomed with open arms by fans and we saw none of them in The Power of the Doctor.

 “I didn’t want to tread on anything that might be happening in future, so those ones felt the right ones.”

Added Chibnall: “I wanted it to be classic Doctors and there’s not a huge amount of those. It was a bit of an instinct, and we asked them, and they said yes.”

It was after all the 100th birthday of the BBC, so if there was ever a time to celebrate the classic companions and Doctors, I guess it was now. Something that Chibnall seems to think was the right move too.

“I didn’t tell anyone we were going to be doing it, I just put it in the script. It’s about as metaphysical as the show’s been. I just thought this was the moment we can ask.”