A minute-long clip from Doctor Who Confidential circa 2006’s Series 2 has shown up on YouTube, and it has a very interesting subject: dialogue that was cut from episodes or scripts. Lines can be cut (or changed) for any number of reasons, including time or budget constraints, actors not being comfortable with their delivery, changes to the storyline or story arc, or the ever-popular “It just doesn’t feel right…”.
In the Confidential clip, a few very familiar faces try to explain how and/or why certain lines end up being cut from the show. The familiar talking heads are former showrunner Russell T. (“The Davies”) Davies, future former showrunner Steven Moffat, rumored future showrunner Mark Gatiss, other rumored future showrunner Toby Whithouse, and former Doctor David Tennant. Shockingly, Gatiss is very bald in the clip and Tennant is very hairy. Someone needed to tell each of them to do a better job editing their hair.
[pullquote align=”right”]What if Jon Pertwee had improvised something far goofier or even more awesome than “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!”?[/pullquote]The subject of deleted dialogue opens up a whole omniverse of possibilities, as past and present spoken lines–especially rumored ones that were cut–can be dredged up and endlessly debated. You’ve heard of A Game of Thrones? Let’s play A Game of “What Ifs…”! So… What if the Eighth Doctor had never said, “I’m half-human… on my mother’s side.”? What if rumored lines explaining that the Doctor and the Master were, in actuality, brothers who had grown up as good and evil were never cut from the Seventh Doctor’s final adventure, Survival?
And what about the quick scene in the Death of the Doctor episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures when the Eleventh Doctor tells Clyde that he can regenerate “507” times? (Surely that should have been cut… or was it a joke? Darn you, The Davies!) What if Jon Pertwee had improvised something far goofier or even more awesome than “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!”? And how do we count alternate takes, such as The Day of the Doctor dialogue glimpsed in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, wherein the Eleventh Doctor tastes the statue dust and says “I’m a bit peckish.” instead of “In 1200 years I’ve never stepped in anything that wasn’t (important).”
Whatever the case, sometimes dialogue that goes too far–or doesn’t go far enough–can have the unintended effect of making the show even more fun and lively for the fans. Doctor Who has lived for five long decades, and in that time, there can’t help but be some debatable choices dialogue-wise. What may have seemed correct, funny, or just plain cool to a showrunner in a certain era may have fallen out of favor. Or maybe, just maybe, in 50 years of episodes, one little line accidentally left in an episode by an editor under an extreme time crunch no longer fits the overall continuity of the show.
Then it becomes up to us as fans to decide whether to debate that odd line of dialogue, or to simply delete-delete-delete it from our memory banks altogether.
To paraphrase the Fourth Doctor, “Have we that right?” Yes, we do!