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It has been described by series producer Marcus Wilson as a "love letter to the fans" and by the controller of BBC One, Danny Cohen, as an "event drama".
Two mini-episodes written by Steven Moffat, "The Night of the Doctor" (14 November 2013) and "The Last Day" (21 November 2013), were released shortly prior to "The Day of the Doctor", depicting in-series events occurring during the Time War between the Doctor's own race of Time Lords and his nemesis, the Daleks.
The 77-minute episode shows the last day of the Time War, in which the War Doctor (John Hurt) chooses to kill both Daleks and his own race of Time Lords to end the destructive conflict, paralleling this with a present-day choice by paramilitary organisation UNIT to destroy London rather than allow an alien invasion.
Revising the back story, the Doctor succumbs to Clara Oswald's plea to change his mind; and instead, at the last instant of the Time War, he hides his war-torn home planet in time, rather than destroy it.
A product of the New York streets, the tough guy was born Anthony Papaleo (Franciosa was his mother’s maiden name).
“Getting in the first blow was something I learned in childhood,” he once told an interviewer, according to the Associated Press.
Franciosa also was once married to Oscar winner Shelley Winters, who died last weekend at age 85.
The "Fall of Arcadia" becomes the central battle of the Time War around which "The Day of the Doctor" is centred.