Warning: spoilers included in this article.
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special aired simultaneously in over 90 countries on Nov. 23. This airdate was exactly 50 years after the first episode aired in 1963. The anniversary was celebrated by many fans, both young and old. Some of those fans had the opportunity to view the special in 3D on the big screen of one of 1 500 cinemas across the globe.
At the Nov. 25 showing at Victoria’s Odeon theatre, Whovian Christine Defehr waited in anticipation for the show to start. She had dressed up for the event in a bow tie, red fez, and tweed jacket—all signature pieces worn by the 11th Doctor. Although it had been two days since the original airdate for the episode (titled “The Day of the Doctor”), Defehr admitted that the theatre showing would be her first time seeing it.
“Me and my boyfriend missed spoilers all weekend,” said Defehr. “We avoided everything.”
Considering the massive following for Doctor Who, it is an amazing feat to avoid any prior knowledge of an episode as important as the 50th anniversary. Social media exploded with information and quotes about the episode after the first showing. Defehr, however, wanted to be surprised on her first viewing.
“I think it’s going to be great. I’m excited to see Billie Piper, because she’s my favourite companion,” said Defehr. She did, however, voice concerns about what head writer Steven Moffat would do with the episode. “Everybody’s going to die. You just know that. It’s going to be something where Moffat screws us over, but it’s going to be awesome.”
Billie Piper played Rose Tyler, the first companion to appear during the 2005 revival of the show, did indeed make an appearance in “The Day of the Doctor,” but not as people expected to see her. Her character in the episode turned out to be an entity known as “the moment,” that could only be seen by one of the three versions of the Doctor who appeared in the episode.
“I was expecting Rose Tyler as Rose Tyler, not as ‘the moment,’” said Nik Lamont, another Whovian in attendance at the Nov. 25 showing. “But that turned out a bit better than I expected in the end.” Lamont came fully prepared for the event, in a TARDIS dress of her own making.
The whole celebration felt like a whirlwind to many people. After months of waiting, it seems Whovians were pleasantly surprised by the episode. While many questions were left unanswered (such as why the Time Lords in Arcadia weren’t regenerating, and what happens with the Zygon/human peace treaty), the episode exceeded expectations. There were references catering to the older generation of Whovians and for the new generation to catch. The most important part appeared to be that, finally, fans got a glimpse into the missing chunk of the Doctor’s history: the Time War.
In thinking back about what she had just seen, Lamont voiced a feeling that showed on many people’s faces: “I kind of have Doctor Who shock right now.”