Doctor Who returns this Saturday for the second half of its seventh series. Eight new episodes will air this spring, but they'll be followed in November by a massive 50th anniversary celebration. After all, it's very rarely that a series turns fifty years old, and you can expect the BBC's treatment of this event to be absolutely massive. A special is already planned and written, though the details of it remain very scarce, thanks to the stubborn secrecy of showrunner Steven Moffat.
A prevalant fan theory -- perhaps more accurately described as a 'hope' -- was that the 50th anniversary special would see the return of actors who had played previous incarnations of the Doctor. Matt Smith is currently inhabiting the role in its eleventh incarnation, but there's hope that previous Doctors -- David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston at least -- would return. Moffat appeared to teasingly encourage these rumors at the outset, but now seems to have turned to just nixing them entirely.
In a recent interview with Collider, Moffat spoke about the fact that bringing back previous Doctors would be in contrast to his forward-thinking vision of the series: "You always want to make it special and huge and big," he said. "One of the things that I'm concerned about this year is that the show must be seen to be going forward. It's all about the next 50 years, not about the last 50 years. If you start thinking it's all about nostalgia then you're finished. It's about moving forward. The Doctor is moving forward, as he always does. He wants to solve the mystery of Clara."
And then, the damning quote: "He's not thinking about all his previous incarnations and all his previous adventures. He's tinking about the future. That, for me, is important," Moffat said. "The show must never feel old. It must always feel brand new, and a 50th anniversary can play against that."
It certainly sounds like Moffat is rather earnestly attempting to dispel the rumors of a multiple-Doctor storyline. But, of course, his penchant for teasing fans with misinformation is infamous in the Doctor Who fandom at this point -- we might be deluding ourselves, but it's easy to imagine Moffat faking us out to surprise us with a David Tennant appearance later.
We'll likely have to wait until November to find out.
Doctor Who returns this Saturday with the episode "The Bells of Saint John" on BBC One in the UK and BBC America in the US.