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The Identity of John Hurt’s Doctor Who Character May Have Been Confirmed

The World Doesn't End Because the Doctor Dances


Ubiquitous actor John Hurt appeared in the most recent season finale of Doctor Who, building up to his appearance in the 50th Anniversary Special this coming November. His role was already quite intriguing, but now a popular fan theory about where Hurt’s character fits in the chronology of the series may have been confirmed. There may be spoilers ahead for those not caught up or those who simply want to remain oblivious before the 50th anniversary special airs.

The dramatic finale moment, “introducing John Hurt as The Doctor,” left plenty of room open for speculation as to how Hurt’s disgraced Doctor, who apparently doesn’t deserve the title, fit in with the rest of the regenerations.  Many fans hypothesized, based on the eleventh Doctor’s claim that Hurt did not deserve the title of Doctor, that Hurt’s character might be the Doctor who was involved in the devastating events of The Time War, which led to the entire Time Lord race, except the Doctor, being removed from time. After all, Hurt’s character does claim that “what I did, I did in the name of peace and sanity.”  According to the Doctor Who costume designer, Howard Burden, this speculation is correct. Via The Telegraph:

There was a gap between Paul McGann playing the Doctor and Christopher Eccleston, when we didn’t see a regeneration, and John Hurt will fit into that gap. He is a past Doctor, not a future Doctor.

It seems that the costume design is where the information is, as many fans considered a photo of Hurt in costume, complete with a very Eccleston-like leather jacket, on the 50th anniversary set, to be another significant clue to his Doctor’s identity.  According to Burden, Hurt’s character is a “dark Doctor,” and would technically be the Doctor’s 9th incarnation, making Eccleston the 10th, David Tennant the 11th, and Matt Smith the 12th. It may be that Hurt’s character does not qualify as “the Doctor” in name, so perhaps we can continue to enjoy the convenience of Tennant being Ten without confusion. In any case, this news also indicates, if it was in doubt before, that new Doctor Who isn’t taking pains to follow the 13 incarnation limit that has been thrown around as a cap for the Doctor’s regeneration. Inserting a previously unknown incarnation into the history of the show makes sense as a dramatic twist for the 50th Anniversary, but it also indicates that, with the show’s popularity on the rise, Steven Moffat and company will continue to play with the history of the show.

(via Digital Spy)

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