John Hurt cast in Doctor Who's 50th anniversary

How Leaks Are Spoiling Doctor Who’s 50th [SPOILERS]

As you will have seen in this evening’s Doctor Who, one of the big spoilery rumours of fandom has been confirmed. The Name of the Doctor revealed that John Hurt is the Doctor.

The question, of course, is which one?

John Hurt cast in Doctor Who's 50th anniversary

We’re not going to go into that here, however. The point is, a massive spoiler for this episode was revealed weeks ago, one that has massive ramifications both for the production team’s future ability to keep these things under wraps, and for the series’ 50th anniversary episode.

Whether you enjoyed the series finale or not, the effect of this leak cannot be overstated. The on-screen graphics that accompanied the reveal underline the importance Hurt’s presence in the finale was to have.

The press hasn’t helped, of course, with innocent questions receiving well worded answers in some quarters and out and out mischief being conducted in others.

Recently John Hurt revealed to the Eastern Daily Press that he “plays “part of the Doctor” in a “kind of trinity” which includes David Tennant,” – something that could quite easily have meant anything, especially given previous mentions and uses of the concept of a trinity in Doctor Who.

However, The Sun later claimed that

John will play the real Ninth Doctor. Christopher Eccleston has always been thought of as the Ninth Doctor but now that John has been revealed as the Ninth Doctor, it shuffles Eccleston’s Doctor to be the Tenth Time Lord, Tennant the 11th and Smith the 12th.


The reason the Doctor has forgotten his ninth incarnation will become clear but it’s to do with the Time War and his shame over his behaviour in it.

When the rumour was printed, fans took it with a massive dose of salt. Now, however, it seems as though the tabloid newspaper was correct.

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

Comparative spoilers can considered. The return of Rose Tyler in Partners in Crime, the return of the Daleks in Bad Wolf and later in Army of Ghosts, even Davros in The Stolen Earth were mostly kept from fans.

In fact, if John Hurt really is playing the actual ninth incarnation of the one we call the Doctor, it perhaps suggests an unlucky number for the Time Lord and the show. Genuine Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston disappointed fans of the revamped show by quitting after one series; his departure was also revealed in the press, resulting in a potentially spectacular ending being ruined.

Something similar has happened here, with Hurt’s presence in the finale revealed only to those with premature DVDs, those who read the spoilers and anyone who has put in a lot of thought as to how The Name of the Doctor might turn out.

More importantly, if the true identity of the Doctor’s secret has been revealed so blatantly in the press so early, what other 50th anniversary secrets might yet be yielded in the name of selling papers?

Russell T Davies never had such a bad problem with leaks as Steven Moffat has had. Perhaps it is time to do something about it.

Please be warned that comments below may contain spoilers.

Christian Cawley

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+.

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