Doctor Who News Celebrate The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary!

Published on April 25th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Curious 50th Anniversary Rumour [SPOILERS?]

A rather curious rumour concerning the 50th anniversary has been doing the rounds of late, one that should nevertheless be given a bit of airtime because of what it represents in Doctor Who lore.

If true, this is a rather massive spoiler, so we would rather you look away now (particularly if you’re using an RSS reader or Google Reader alternative), rather than risking your wrath. Additionally, we have wrapped the potential spoiler up in a special hide/reveal button, which you won’t see until you scroll down below the following image of John Hurt…

Who is John Hurt playing in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary?

Before you continue, please be aware that nothing here is official – we’re looking at rumours and speculating.

[spoiler ]So: John Hurt. Dressed interestingly in a cravat, waistcoat, trousers, possibly wearing a shoulder bag and a leather jacket.

A particular type of leather jacket… so to summarise:

Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor

The look sported by John Hurt is a sort of combination of the three above outfits, worn by Paul McGann’s awesome Eighth Doctor in 1996 and 2011 and Christopher Eccleston’s much-missed Ninth Doctor in 2005.

Hold that thought one moment, as we continue.

We’ve heard from two sources that the 50th anniversary story – which remember is to have a limited cinematic release – will have elements of the Time War as a backdrop. Furthermore a recent report in fills out the rumour with some detail:

the 50th Anniversary special’s major guest star, legendary actor John Hurt, is going to be playing… the Doctor. And not just some future or alternate Doctor, but the real 9th Doctor, an incarnation that was somehow forgotten in the insanity of the Time War. And in case you’re thinking this is all part of an absurdly elaborate “Screw you” to Christopher Eccleston, fear not — the rumor claims that, as Hurt emerges as the forgotten 9th Doctor, Eccleston becomes the 10th, David Tennant the 11th, and Matt Smith the 12th.

Of course we shouldn’t treat rumours with anything more than raised eyebrows, and I personally think that any renumbering of the Doctors would be extremely unlikely.

However, the fact remains that Hurt is dressed in a manner that resembles two former Doctors, and given what we’re lead to believe about the horrific nature of the Time War, would it be all that surprising to find that we have yet another version of the Eighth or Ninth Doctors?

Or even a future Doctor, for that matter?

What do you think – baseless rumour or cinematic gold?


Please be aware that the comments may feature spoilers.


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

81 Responses to Curious 50th Anniversary Rumour [SPOILERS?]

  1. avatar J.R. Southall says:

    Knowing Moffat, this is the kind of thing he’d do – but then he’d address the numbering issue by ending the story with Hurt’s “real” ninth Doctor wiped out of the timelines, so Eccleston goes back to being the ninth, Tennant the tenth and so on. Wouldn’t remotely surprise me. And then Hurt becomes the Doctor who never was, genuine as his incarnation may have been.

  2. avatar Marc Vinci says:

    I’ve got a leather jacket too that looks kinda sorta maybe a bit like Ecclestone’s. Going by that logic then maybe I’m in the 50th Anniversary, and maybe I’M the “alternate 9th Doctor”.

  3. avatar Paul McGann's Cat says:

    I don’t mind the idea of a forgotten incarnation, but it comes across as a huge slap in the face to the classic Doctor actors that we’re getting him in the 50th at the expense of any of the earlier incarnations, especially the 8th if it’s tied into the Time War.

    Moffat’s arrogance running away with him as usual.

    • avatar kit says:

      I don’t really like the whole forgotten incarnation thing. It depends on the execution. However, there is nothing arrogant about not bringing back previous doctors. Bringing back actors who are significantly older than their incarnations at the time of regeneration– now *that* would be a huge slap in the face to the series as a whole.

      • McGann doesn’t look significantly older. Nothing that couldn’t be easily attributed to having had a rough incarnation. Look at the recent shots of him on Big Finish covers, in the new costume. Looks fine to me. I’d call that the 8th Doctor, and say he’d fit onscreen close enough to how folks remember him.

    • avatar Ace says:

      Let’s not bash Moffat until we actually see the episode. It’s silly to theorize and then criticize. So let’s save the criticism until we see who he is.

      Personally I think he’s some sort of a timey-wimey mix of a all the Doctors, with the possible exemption of 10/11

  4. avatar Andrew says:

    Yes but Ingrid Oliver was wearing the fourth doctors scarf. So these items obviously have some plot significance but not necessarily the one mentioned here.

  5. or maybe Moffat has paid people to dress provocatively and wander about aimlessly. He is, afterall, The Moff.

    • I like this idea Niki :)

  6. avatar Gareth says:

    Look at the legs!!!! 9th doctor at bottom 8th at top????

    Also a Regeneration DVD set is being issued. I wonder????

  7. avatar Chrias says:

    Sounds a bit complicated to me and not really needed. I think it’s probley some sort of planned red herring to keep peoples minds distracted about what is really going on. Maybe John Hurts character gets a bit a cold so either the 10 or 11 gives him 9′s old jacket to wear.

  8. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Interesting… But I won’t try to read too much into this, unlike some people who seem to be jumping to conclusions and then getting all worked up over it. Waste of energy, folks.

  9. avatar lozzer says:

    I like the idea – that’s really mixing things up a bit. Not sure how that makes the clips we get of the other Doctor’s in The Next Doctor and 11th Hour work – there was no John Hurt in them… they’ll have to add some timey wimey explanation. Maybe he’s an alternate 9th Doctor that never regenerated…

    • avatar TheRealNinthDoctor says:

      My personal guess is that Eccleston!10 found Hurt!9 so appalling that he erased all traces of Hurt!9, altering all evidence to feature Eccleston!10. This is how the Eccleston Doctor appears in all of Clive’s pictures in Eccleston’s first episode- he retconned them. Eccleston!10 altered his own memory, removing Hurt!9, thus creating the illusion of Eccleston!9. This also resulted in the lack of Hurt!9 in the montages from NextDoctor, 11thHour, Nightmare, etc. However, he did it in such a way that if he ever encountered Hurt!9 again, he would remember the truth. As a result, Smith!11 realised he was actually Smith!12 upon seeing Hurt!9.

      Presumably, Hurt!9 was the incarnation who really destroyed Gallifrey, and not McGann!8 as we believed. And if Smith is 12, then… Valeyard here we come.

  10. avatar David Lein says:

    He could be the Doctor from Pete’s universe, or perhaps the long missed Professor Chronotis from Shada….

  11. avatar Blartfarble says:

    Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Eccleston and now John Hurt. That’s just what we need, another Ninth Doctor.

    • avatar Jenny Lynn says:

      Don’t forget Joanna Lumley! The first female Doctor =]

  12. avatar Francis Cave says:

    Maybe every previous Doctor exists in some alternate state where they continue to age so we get John Hurt as the older ninth, plus Doctors four to eight as they are now with a perfect reason for them looking older!

    Well I can dream, can’t I??

  13. avatar Michael Wooten says:

    I personally think the better explanation is that this would be a much older version of the 8th Doctor at the end of the time war before he regenerates. Perhaps this would give us the regeneration scene we’ve all been snubbed from the 8th to 9th Doctor. That would explain at least part of the outfit. It would be a shame if they didn’t bring Paul McGann back for it though, especially since he’s been far more gracious to the fans than his successor.

    • avatar lozzer says:

      That’s a shocking idea – who would want anyone other than McGann…?

    • avatar Jenny says:

      Timelords don’t age. Didn’t Matt Smith’s Doctor age 300 years between seasons 6 and 7?

      • avatar Rebecca says:

        Don’t forget the First Doctor (Hartnell) was a rickety old man before he regenerated into Troughton and the Master as Professor Yana was old and white haired as well.

        • avatar Bobby says:

          Also, Sly Mccoy aged quite a bit from his seasons to the movie.

  14. avatar Dakota Lopez says:

    Well. I DEFINITELY see Eccleston’s leather jacket. But McGann’s waistcoat is a completely different color, and the shoulder strap. That’s a serious stretch. Did we not forget that two weeks ago actress Ingrid Oliver was wearing a fourth Doctor scarf? Was she too a forgotten fourth Doctor?

    …Or is it more likely that they’re simply throwing homages into the 50th for each past Doctor?

    • avatar Calli Arcale says:

      I like the homage idea! Now I’m hoping to see somebody with celery on their lapel, a background character playing the recorder, perhaps Hamid Karzai on a news program since he wears the same kind of hat as the First Doctor, a very improbable (questionable, even?) umbrella, a lapel-pin shaped like a cat, and, for the Third, I would very much like to see Bessie. ;-)

  15. avatar Paul Blume says:

    Perhaps we’ll get BOTH.

  16. avatar Simon says:

    If they do the Cartmel Masterplan in the series finale, he could be the Other. Alternately, possibly Rassilon (well, he wouldn’t be the first major character actor to play Rassilon) or even Omega before he was sent into a black hole.

    Somehow, while the theory sounds like the sort of thing Moffat would do, it would be convuluted, especially for the non-fans who are watching this because of the 50th Anniversary tag attached, so I’m taking this with a grain of salt.

  17. avatar Jenny Lynn says:

    I’m thinking the Valeyard actually. Maybe Omega but that wouldn’t make much sense.

    • avatar STLShawn says:

      Like your thinking jenny. I would love to see a “strange” version of the doctor…Alternate regenerations that never were seen by us,,,, possibly with dark secrets

  18. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    A future or alternate Doctor seems more likely but of course Eccleston was approached to be in it…..or he could be the Doctor’s father out of time…

  19. avatar dan says:

    It’d not Ecclestone’s jacket. The buttons are different, and the collar is too wide.

  20. avatar A Tony Rix says:

    well its all a bit Timey Wimey wibbly wobbly . spoilers red herrings and a Narrative that based upon Fiction, anything could happen, and remember above all “its about time!”

  21. avatar Tongmaster5 says:

    If John Hurt is playing the Doctor wouldn’t it be more likely (seeing as his costume seems to be a mixture of 8th + 9th Doctors) that he is the Eighth Doctor at the end of his regeneration, making this story The Three Doctors-Mark 2

  22. I dunno, I think a lot of people would find the slap to be more than a little insulting, to expect us to believe the Doctor HIMSELF can’t remember his own incarnation? This isn’t even considering how the BBC would merchandise this. Doctor 8 and a half? No, there’s too many things fighting against it.

    Now, if the rumor was that someone got hold of the Master’s laser screwdriver (complete with age-acceleration technology), having McGann make a surprise appearance, and get blasted with that thing, aging him into Hurt, eventually forcing him to regenerate into Eccleston… That situation, that one would be the one I’d be fine with. Then you’d also get the 8->9 regeneration on film, and all the regenerations would be viewable.

    It’d also let them sneak a quick Eccleston cameo, which for him would involve showing up on set, being on camera for a few minutes, and taking off. It’d make some fans mad there wasn’t more of him, but they’d be satisfied by the presence of McGann, the 8-9 regeneration, and just seeing Eccleston at all.

    I dunno, I have a mind that loves speculating things, sometimes it’s more fun than actually finding out.

    • avatar Mark Lenton says:

      I Have a theory that Eccleston has turned down the special because he has looked at the comments section on Kasterborous and got annoyed at so many people spelling his name with an ‘e’ on the end :-)

      • That’s always quite bothered me, personally! I can only imagine how much it irritates Eccleston himself!

  23. avatar Tom says:

    Or maybe John Hurt is actually playing a regenerated Master (check out the beard) and this 9th Doctor rumour is just a piece of deliberate mis-direction?

    • avatar John Doctor says:

      I thought that he could play the master ever since I saw he was in the 50th. Honestly though, I would much rather John Simm still be the Master.

      • avatar Calli Arcale says:

        John Simm was great, but I’d love to see Jonathon Pryce do it for real and not just for charity. He *rocked* in “Curse of Fatal Death”.

  24. avatar Francis Cave says:

    Well I just hope that Peter Davidson appears in the special..


  25. avatar Libertine80 says:

    Who’s to say Hurt isn’t playing a completely different Time Lord and the fact his jacket is similar to Eccleston’s, plus his ensemble is *VERY vaguely* similar to mcGann’s, is just coincidental?
    What if he’s the Monk? The Master? Morbius? An early Omega? Runcible the fatuous? Spandrell? An earlier incarnation of Chancellor Goth? Or maybe even the Corsair?

  26. avatar daniel says:

    My theory is in a Five Doctors way, John Hurts character is collecting Doctors, stuff belonging to them and companions…maybe in a more sinister fashion…erasing the Doctor from history as seemed to be a running theme in Series 7a.

    Obviously 10 and 11 would be last to go and have to unite to save himself.

    It allows for nods in costume and tiny cameos that we wouldnt know about yet

  27. avatar alex says:

    Well, he might just be wearing the 9th’s Coat. Nobody speculated that previous pictures of a female wearing the 4th’s scarf was in fact the 4th. I’m guessing the Doctor has been leaving his artifacts through time as clues or something, possibly in paintings as Matt Smith hinted previously.

  28. avatar AJ says:

    I don’t believe that John Hurt’s character is a past, present or future version of the Doctor. Despite him dressing in a some what similar style of a few Doctors is irrelevant. The BBC has thrown red herrings at us before and think this to be any different.

  29. avatar alextye says:

    I think this would be an amazing plot twist – personally, I hope there’s truth to these rumours!

  30. I also had the thought of, what if a huge twist would be thrown in (of course, another super unlikely bit of speculation, but it’s fun) that the special is about the 12th doctor needing help from his previous incarnations, Matt and David? Nobody ever thought that perhaps Smith is already a retired doctor by this point, and they’re just not telling you.

    I mean, Hurt’s outfit is eccentric enough to be a Doctor costume.

    Though, grain of salt and all, this is just me rambling, really.

    • I like this suggestion David!

  31. avatar Dale says:

    Why can’t he just be the 8th Doctor a the end of his life before regenerating?

    • avatar zarbisupremo says:

      Because his voice sounds nothing like McGann’s ? He also doesn’t resemble him in the slightest.

  32. avatar Jörg says:

    Why should a forgotten 9th Doctor wear the clothes of his predecessor and his successor at the same time? That does’t make any sense. After regeneration the Doctor wears the clothes of his predecessor until he got time to redress, but a Doctor who decides to add a jacket to his clothing before his regenaration and the next Doctor who decides to keep this addition but skip the rest?

    And a future Doctor? Well, you probably could write a story like that, but in the end that would mean that Hurt would have agreed to play the next incarnation of the Doctor whenever Smith decides to leave the show. I don’t think that this is very likely.

    So just stick to the simplest explanation: Hurts character got hands on the 9th Doctors jacket and decided to wear it for an unknown reason.

  33. avatar AJ says:

    I think that John Hurt will be playing John Dee and not the 8th/9th Doctor. Think about it Queen Elizabeth the first will be in the story, John Dee was also a Doctor not to mention he was her personal Astrologer and adviser. I think people are reading too much into what John Hurts character is wearing by saying “oh it’s the 8th/9th Doctors leather coat with the 3rd’s shirt”. Anyone notice the boots oh my God the 4th Doctors boots that’s just me just poking a little fun. Thoughts???

    • avatar Craig E says:

      That reminds me so much of ZombiU on the Nintendo Wii U, it centers around John Dee’s prophecies. Strangely enough, it also features the Tower of London and an organization built around the prophecies. I wonder if Moffat is a gamer by any chance :P

      • Somehow until these comments came in I had never heard of John Dee. Fascinating character, it turns out…

        • avatar AJ says:

          Your welcome. I mean the clothes he’s wearing are period to that time era I believe.

  34. avatar Tom says:

    Perhaps the Doctor is the regenerated Master, who has reached an epiphany following a life of evil, and was given a second chance, or resurrection by the Time Lords? The appearances of the Master would therefore be explained by the Doctor (Master) battling previous incarnations of himself in multi-Doctor/Master episodes. This would satisfy us knowing the name of the Doctor (Master), and as Moffat says would change the course of Doctor Who forever. Could it also be that the series 7 finale, the 50th special, and the Christmas special, form an anniversary triptych, thus validating Moffat’s comments about there not being just one event to mark the 50th? This way, earlier Doctors and Assistants can legitimately deny being part of the 50th anniversary special, yet still be involved in the 50th set of episodes.

    • I doubt you’re right about the Master/Doctor relationship, as it would contradict too much and restrict writers too much.

      On the other point, however, I think you might be spot on…!

  35. avatar AJ says:

    If I have to believe that John Hurt will be paying “the 9th Doctor” I would think that he is one from a parallel universe that old of been the 9th Doctor.

  36. avatar DanskiDan says:

    Might it be the case that Hurt is the same ninth Doctor as Eccelston. Perhaps at the end of the War he didn’t regenerate but somehow rejuvenated hence his seeming unfamiliarity with his appearance in “Rose”

  37. avatar Dave point says:

    I’m afraid you are all wrong.John Hurt is playing a Time Lord collecting the Doctors lives one by one.Hence the 9th Docs leather jacket.Some people

  38. avatar Jake Wanstall-Riley says:

    I honestly think JH is playing someone who claims to be “The Doctor” and is actually Omega who has been able to fool the Doctor into thinking he’s a past/future regeneration of himself by somehow mapping the Doctor’s DNA onto his own and is after the Doctor for destroying Gallifrey

    • You know that “rumor” was started by a fake blog, run by a fake blogger, who had but one goal: Make up fake “spoilers” and see if they could get people to believe them. That entire “omega” bit was all made up by one creative blogger. Check the site, it confirms it was entirely fake.

  39. ‘Cuts hit BBC Wales wardrobe dept, actors back do as best they can…’

  40. make do even lol

  41. avatar Spacephantom says:

    We’ve heard plenty about the 50th anniversary being just as much about the future of Doctor Who as it’s past. So the idea that John Hurt is actually the 12th Doctor makes more sense to me than an alternate 8 or 9th.

    I think it’s unlikely though. Much as I would love to see an older Doctor again and an actor of Hurt’s stature playing him for at least one full run of episodes, I doubt that Matt Smith will leave before the end of 2014.

    It’s always fun to speculate though :-))

  42. avatar Irish Whovian says:

    I heard rumours he was gonna play William Hartnell/The First Doctor just like Richard Hurdall did in The Five Doctors! They could’ve done the same by bringing Patrick Troughton’s Doctor back and get his son, David Troughton, to play him! ‘Cause if you cast Troughton’s son as his doctor and put a black wig on him, he could easily pass off as his father’s version of the Doctor!

  43. avatar Webelo777 says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense (and be more fun) for him to be The Corsair? Now there’s a rumor I’ve never heard before at least!

  44. avatar Geoff says:

    I can’t bear this grotesque: dress actors up as their dead fathers conversation that often pops up with Doctor Who fans. I can’t imagine them wanting to do it or anyone being crass enough to ask them.

    Whatever this John Hurt business is it certainly won’t involve plot references to obscure aspects of 5 year old stories to do with laser screwdrivers or anything like that. Steven Moffatts stories are written with a lightness of touch, yes they are often complicated but they aren’t dependant on you remembering something that happened over about 2 years ago generally. Thank god those days are over, Yes I am looking at you Attack of the cybermen.

    Now just watch a cyberised Lytton turn up tomorrow night and make me look like an idiot.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but if my father was an actor, and had played the Doctor, and I was an actor, and I was asked to reprise his role, AS him, I wouldn’t be insulted, I’d be honored. But maybe that’s just me.

  45. avatar Geoff says:

    Or maybe the other reaction is just me. It’s interesting to hear another view. And I’m not so arrogant as to think my opinion is definitive!

  46. avatar Russ says:

    John hurt looks like a 1950/60′s scrapman to me, mr Foreman maybe. I can’t see why Moffet would right away a regeneration but as we know he will have to come up with a way around the 13 rule, the beeb won’t let this cash cow die and to be fair I think there are a lot of people that won’t put up with liberties being taken.

    • Various producers have already got around the 12 regenerations/13 lives rule, from the Master’s new cycle in The Five Doctors to his apparent new cycle in Utopia.

      It’s really not an issue.

  47. I actually think he’s playing the 11th Doctor. Basing this thought off of “Nightmare in Silver” in which we see the Doctors incarnations play out in order, but there is a pause for a “regeneration effect” between Tennant and Smith. Thinking back to “The Eleventh Hour” the same thing happens there, except Smith walks through the image of the 11th before we could see it – I always assumed that was for effect, but knowing Moffat, couldn’t Smith have walked through the image of Hurt (or essentially the real 11th Doctor) before we saw it? It’d certainly fit within “new who” easier than bringing a pre-Ecclestone Doctor into the mix?

    • Forgot to say that by Hurt being the 11th, that actually makes Smith the 12th. It also lends itself to the whole “11th will fall at Trenzalore” – it is Hurt that will fall there, not Smith.

  48. avatar Sam says:

    It is said that the ninth doctor will be omega and the 11th doctors life now is all a dream and at the end David remnant regenerates into matt smith and his mind is renewed

  49. avatar CyberDoktah says:

    This is exactly the sort of thing Moffat would do, but I’m a bit disappointed that none of the classic doctors have been confirmed to be returning. Paul McGann doesn’t look much older than he did in the 1996 movie, and some of the older doctors could’ve been recast (either way, many fans would be disappointed). Also, has it been mentioned that no one knows how the 8th doctor regenerated into Eccleston’s doctor? This really helps prove Hurt’s role, and it almost seems planned (highly doubt that)…

  50. avatar Russ says:

    Someone out there will tell me, I can’t remember the story title from big finish, but the dr’s third incarnation regenerated out of the time line and that was something to do with the time war, it was eventually corrected but this might me Moffats thinking with Hurt. Lungbarrow or the ancestor cell come to mind as the titles but I am probably wrong. The whole of gallifrey is in the doctors head and this caused him amnesia after the war so I suppose there could be a forgotten incarnation.

  51. John Hurt is the secret doctor, the one who did not call himself the doctor so Claire was not aware of him. He ended the Time War for peace and sanity but the doctor(s) dissaproved of this genocide even though he had no choice.

  52. avatar BaDOOSH says:

    I don’t understand why the idea of a secret doctor is so offensive? Looking back on the impression the 3 ‘new’ series doctors and the time lords themselves gave, the time war was horrific beyond imagination. The idea the Doctor doesn’t consider his time war version or secret 9th version one of the ‘Doctors’ makes a lot of sense. You read stories of soldier saying they weren’t themselves during war. The Doctor obviously had to have done horrific things hence why he broke the promise that is his name, as River said ‘Doctor, the word for healer and wise man’. Maybe we will see the Doctors attempt at redemption in the 50th anniversary. Also he obviously hasn’t forgotten John Hurts Doctor. Its also quite clear he knows exactly what and who John Hurt is.

  53. avatar Michael Rademeyer says:

    Well if John Hurt is gonna be the “real” 9th doctor, then that means Matt Smith will be the last doctor and then the whole series will come to a close very soon, maybe even in the 50th Anniversary.

  54. avatar Buckskins says:

    The whole 12 regenerations thing is no longer canon so I don’t think the show’s going to end anytime soon…

  55. avatar David Fagg says:

    thats not the 9th doctor as the doctor looks younger when he gets older, which means the old man is the doctors younger self,. he is probably the doctor before he stole the tardis, also he only started going by the name of the doctor ei think it was before he started travelling
    which means the old man doctor is probably the doctor when he used to have his name which is probably why his name was the key to his tomb make sense to you ? also the doctor (mat smith) was talking to the other one like he did something wrong as if its a part of himself he is ashamed of which and he even said to the old guy that what he did wasnt in the name of the doctor, which is probably why he called himself the doctor and randomly stole a tardis to explore…..or…..perhaps he was running from his past ? and if it is the 9th doctor then the whole story is ruined as far as im concerned.

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