Doctor Who News John Hurt cast in Doctor Who's 50th anniversary

Published on August 20th, 2013 | by Jonathan Appleton

Is John Hurt’s Doctor ‘The Renegade’?

This article contains possible spoilers about the 50th anniversary episode – be warned!

Has IDW’s Doctor Who comic given the game away as to the John Hurt Doctor’s place in the series’ lore? That’s the verdict of Bleeding Cool, based on issue 12 of the US publication.

Always up for a bit of fun speculation about all things sci-fi and fantasy, the site reckons the current issue’s strip, depicting Gallifrey’s moment of destruction in the time war, drops a heavy hint that Hurt is, in fact, the ninth Doctor, responsible for his home world’s end.

This would mean, of course, that all of the twenty-first century Doctors are to be effectively renumbered, making Eccleston the tenth, Tennant the eleventh and Smith the twelfth.

Bleeding Cool features some panels from the strip, which depict some seriously worried Time Lords facing up to their doom…

The Doctor is in possession of The Moment

What do you think? Is Hurt really ‘The Renegade’ in question? Will Peter Capaldi be the unlucky thirteenth? Most importantly, can anyone come up with a better description for this whole business than the ‘Hurt Insert’?!


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About the Author


has watched Doctor Who since those great big spiders did for Jon Pertwee, and it's way too late to stop now. When he's not at his job working for a charity he spends his time following Hull City's fortunes, listening to Bruce Springsteen and wondering why it took thirty years too long for Doctor Who action figures to come along. Currently reading: Frank Skinner interview in DWM. That guy seriously loves this show...

34 Responses to Is John Hurt’s Doctor ‘The Renegade’?

  1. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    Is this the same Bleeding Cool that months ago first kicked up a fuss about all the rumours about ‘rediscovered lost episodes’ that have still to materialise or be announced or confirmed? Three words spring to mind: PINCH. Of. SALT!

  2. avatar vortexter says:

    Oh I think something will come of all those rumours, just not 90 of them…

    But talking of the Renegade, that’s typical of the name the High council would give anyone who doesn’t fit in with their plans. I think its just a random name by a random comic strip. I don’t think the Moff would give out any big details like this otherwise.

  3. avatar Jim says:

    Simple. He is a time-war wounded or aged EIGHT. If so, I hope with a little CGI, we will see the regeneration from 8 to 9. Or maybe the BBC and Eccelston lies and he does put in a short cameo for this.

    • avatar rickjlundeen says:

      That’s what I thought originally as well. #8 just drastically aged. It would end up irritating a ton of McGann fans not having him in it but no matter what they do, they always irritate *someone*. and the thought had occurred that yeah, it would be great to see him regenerate into Eccleston. Maybe the 50th will be all about redeeming #8. Or if he is indeed another incarnation, maybe 10 and 11 will find a way to redeem him but making his existence unnecessary. so many things could happen….

  4. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    This will definitely cause a problem amongst the anal-retentive fan. Seems to be that it was spelled out at the end of “The Name of The Doctor”. Hurt’s incarnation did such horrible things, albeit in the name of good, that he lost the ‘right’ to be called the Doctor. He *is* the Doctor, he just kind of lost the right to the title. His continued existence might indeed put a lot of fans in a whirlwind regarding a possible renumbering. But maybe it’ll no longer be an issue after the 50th? timey-wimey…..

  5. avatar JohnNarratesGod says:

    I don’t know if its just me but watching ‘nightmare in sliver’ again yesterday and there is a quote of the doctor when he is speaking to the cyberplanner in regards to regeneration. He threatens the cyberplanner with having a blast but the says ‘use this me up, who knows what we’ll get next’ suggesting he knows he’s at Regen12??? Has no one picked this up??

    • The Ninth Doctor didn’t know whether he would end up with “two heads”.

      This is nothing new…

    • avatar Spider-pope says:

      The Doctor never knows quite what he’ll get. So you’ve got that uncertainty plus the fact he’s never regenerated with a Cyberplanner in his head before, so feth knows what regenerating would have resulted in.

  6. avatar David F says:

    This doesn’t change what we inferred from The Name of the Doctor. That this is the Doctor’s ninth body, but that he’s been stripped of the title ‘Doctor’ in the Doctor’s own estimation of himself and struck from the record. Making Ecclestone the tenth physical body of the Time Lord, but remaining (for our purposes) the “Ninth Doctor”.

  7. avatar Colin says:

    Two things we know for certain:

    1) SOMEONE is going to be upset by the 50th Anniversary Special. Perhaps a number of people!

    2) Moffat has an explanation for the John Hurt Doctor that makes sense to him. And I daresay a lot of fans will be willing to go along with his explanation. But… (see #1).

    Am I saying “Let’s see…”? Yeah. It’s fun to speculate, though.:)

  8. avatar David F says:

    If it is how we think it is, it’s an extraordinarily good idea. One of the slight drawbacks of the Doctor Who formula is that on one hand, the show depends on keeping the lead character’s origins shrouded in mystery. Yet on the other hand, drama thrives on the revelation of backstory. Moffat has realised that the years in which Doctor Who was off the air offer the opportunity to achieve the latter without damaging the former.

    It contradicts nothing we all already know, and only enriches the canon.

    • avatar Kenny says:

      This is a very good point.

  9. avatar BogieMcD says:

    I suspect that – if Hurt’s iteration does turn out to be the ninth – the events of the 50th anniversary story may end with him being erased from the Doctor’s timeline with, maybe, the time war revisited and the restoration of Gallifrey. Or not.

    • I must admit to having been seriously considering something similar to this for some weeks…

    • I’m rather hoping that Gallifrey/the Time Lords are restored in some way too – we’ve had three Doctor’s worth of ‘the last Time Lord (apart from the Master)’ now and whilst I love that theme, it might be time for a change…

      I have to say, with the news that Peter Capaldi is to be the twelfth Doctor, I am more excited about what the future holds for Dr Who than I’ve ever been – apart from when John Simm was cast as the Master. I’m hoping that Capaldi’s Doctor and Simm’s Master get to meet – with two such talented actors it could be ‘spec-tac-ular!’

      Where Hurt’s ‘non-Doctor’ fits into all of this, obviously I have no idea – but I’m looking forward to finding out!

      • avatar BogieMcD says:

        Restoring them/it would be another way of revitalising the programme for sure, particularly if the restored Gallifrey was still the darker vision of the Doctor’s homeworld that was in place before the final hours of the Time War. What fun it would be to have those buggers in pursuit of Capaldi’s Doctor through time and space!

        Doing so would also allow us to have our John Hurt flavoured cake and eat it too by erasing him from the Doctor’s history as Gallifrey is restored. Nonoe of those pesky marketing problems would then arise with questions over whether or not to put Hurt on the website banners! ;)

  10. avatar Al says:

    I caught the reference too when I read the comic, but it’s unlikely. First, the Doctor has been open about his involvement in the Time War all along. It would be anticlimactic in the extreme for the Hurt Doctor to be behind something we already know all about. Second, IDW writes its comics months in advance – so that issue would have been put together long before Name of the Doctor aired. As it is, the first part of the story in question probably would have been rewritten had the writers been aware Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS was going to hit most of the same notes.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      I think IDW are suggesting that John Hurt is the Renegade. Unless I am missing something, that does not necessarily mean that they are right.

  11. avatar Neu 75 says:

    Bleeding Cool insists it is “approved by the BBC”. So was ‘The World-Shapers’…

    • I think the difference is that the BBC Wales team supposedly gives permission for or blocks things in the comic strips – a case in point would be the original version of The Dalek Project – depending on whether they interfere with anything planned for the show. The World-Shapers wouldn’t have contradicted anything ongoing, featuring a Doctor that had been replaced on TV, whereas the similarities between The Dalek Project and Victory of the Daleks have been documented.

      That isn’t to say that things are as tight as they were in the RTD days, however, when they did a grand job of making sure things didn’t get confused between BBC Wales, IDW, DWM and Big Finish, a level of control that you feel are missing. IIRC, Gary Russell was largely to thank for this.

  12. I was hoping that as John Hurt wasn’t exactly identified as a version of the 8th Doctor but instead as ‘The Doctor’, I hope that this is the man the Doctor took that name from, as we all know this is just his alias.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Except that the Eleventh Doctor said “He is me but he isn’t the Doctor”. Mind you, the caption a couple of minutes later introducing John Hurt as the Doctor sort of contradicts that.

  13. avatar Matt says:

    Yop – I agree with the earlier comments, I think Hurt is just an aged version of the 8th Doctor. That would be the simplest explanation.

    • So why not use Paul McGann, who has aged in the past 17 years?

      • avatar zarbisupremo says:

        Yep, and there’s also the fact that he looks and sounds bugger-all like Paul McGann.

      • Why? We’ve been saying why. So Steven Moffat can write the story of The Last Doctor.

        • avatar McD says:

          I think this notion of “Hurt as McGann” is a non starter. In a show where a change of leading man is a plot point, having two very different guys play the same iteration of the character is a very messy idea. No doubt Moffat is several steps beyond our speculations anyway!

  14. avatar Neu 75 says:

    Well, maybe he’s another Doctor, conjured up by the Time Lords to help win the war when the “real” Doctor refused to fight. They created the Valeyard and revived the Master (probably using bio data). Then the Doctor decided to intervene…

  15. avatar Simon Magellan says:

    One thought – if Christopher Eccleston had agreed to appear, would he have been used in place of the Hurt Doctor – was the character created to fill the gap, giving Steven Moffat the idea of an unknown, “unnumbered” Doctor, or was the plan always to have this character? If so, would he have used Tennant’s Doctor as well – which would make the Tardis rather cramped, or would he have just used Eccleston only for a Regeneration sequence (effectively a cameo) and is that perhaps why he turned it down, not wanting to appear just a for a scene?

    • I think you might be on to something there, Simon. We know that Eccleston was approached, and declined to appear. That’s his choice, and I have no issues with that because I respect him as a man and as an actor, but there is no doubt that his appearance would have been very welcomed by much of fandom (from what I’ve read online, at least). I’m sure his reasons for not wanting to reprise the role were less to do with screen time than his professional judgement – and perhaps it was as simple a matter as clashing schedules.

      Incidentally, it makes me cross when I hear people complain because Eccleston isn’t appearing in the 50th – he was hugely instrumental in helping to make ‘new Who’ the success it’s been, isn’t that enough?

      *climbs down off my soapbox* :-)

  16. avatar Hyncharas says:

    I don’t think it means anything… more likely Hurt is playing simply an older version of McGann’s Doctor, and McGann as the character has seen a lot of near-misses. Barring accidents, sources suggest that a Time Lord can live 1,000 before regenerating.

    It clearly shows that “doctor” is in bold, but “renegade” is not, meaning it is no being used as his name.

  17. Clearly they haven’t seen “The Deadly Assassin” in which it explains why the Doctor is a renegade. FFS.

  18. avatar Simon Magellan says:

    Problem with idea of the Hurt character being the McGann 8th Doctor aged is that we also see, albeit very briefly, the McGann Doctor in “The Name of the Doctor”, and this (as far as can be ascertained from the blink and miss it nature of the scene) appears to show him as he was in the TV Movie. So would he then reappear as an older version? If The Doctor repudiated him, “unnamed” him, if you will, wouldn’t this have affected the whole of the 8th Doctor lifespan, not just the end bit…?

    Personal opinion – Hurt will turn out to be 9, Steven Moffat will reset the clock from the start through some clever timey wimey stuff and Peter Capaldi will be the new No.1… Jenna Coleman has made mention of the fact that, after the 50th special, the show will have a clean slate.

  19. avatar The DireLeon says:

    Other than Ten telling Sarah Jane he’d regenerated ‘at least a half dozen times’ since she’d last saw him, when has The Doctor or anyone else actually stated how many times he’s regenerated? I mean, the Timelords can force regenerations and wipe/modify peoples memories. Who’s to say even The Doctor knows how many lives he’s had? He could be a pawn just like The Master and The Valeyard. Or he could have been all of these people and more. Our numbering system could be irrelevant.

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