INTERVIEW Russell T Davies talks about THAT Sarah Jane Adventures line

SP OILER WARNING! This piece contains spoilers for part two of “Death Of The Doctor”, aired on CBBC today, so you may wish to read it later if you haven’t watched the episode yet

At one point in the episode, Clyde asks the Doctor how many times he can regenerate. The Doctor’s response? 507! Which is a bit more than the 12 that was established in 1976 Who “The Deadly Assassin”. A few months ago we spoke to Russell T Davies about his script, and this is what he had to say…

So, the Doctor can regenerate a lot more than 12 times, apparently. That was a bit of a cheeky line…
507 – I could not resist! I was hooting. It’ll never stick, though. That 13 lives is stuck in people’s heads. It is, isn’t it funny? Yet they only said 13 once or twice.

But some people do get tremendously worried by that figure, don’t they? As if when we get to the end of the thirteenth Doctor’s time, the BBC are gonna cancel the series, regardless of how well it’s doing.
They do, I know. When they came over here to launch “The Eleventh Hour”, I went along to this screening in LA and journalists put their hands up, and one of the first questions was, "What will happen when he reaches the thirteenth regeneration?"
There’s a fascinating academic study to be made out of how some facts stick and some don’t - how Jon Pertwee’s Doctor could say he was thousands of years old, and no-one listens to that, and yet someone once says he’s only got thirteen lives, and it becomes lore. It’s really interesting, I think. That’s why I’m quite serious that that 507 thing won’t stick, because the 13 is too deeply ingrained in the public consciousness. But how? How did that get there? It’s fascinating, it’s really weird. Anyway, that’ll be my book in my retirement!

This story gave you a chance to write for Matt Smith’s Doctor. Watching the finished episodes, did you get a twinge of regret that you can’t write for him every week?
Oh no! To be honest, me and Steven [Moffat] have the funniest emails now where I’m constantly laughing! I just sit here going, "March! I remember what March was like". And on the first of April I said, "April! April’s a nightmare, isn’t it?" And I can do that on every date of the year – "Oh my god, wait until October!" I have twinges of amusement !

Not got CBBC? Parts one and two of "Death Of The Doctor" air on BBC One on Wednesday 27 October and Thursday 28 October, each time starting at 4.30pm.

Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.