Doctor Who News Doctor Who chief writer Steven Moffat

Published on October 13th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Moffat in Regeneration Teaser!

What’s that, Steven Moffat? You say we’ve miscounted the Doctor’s regenerations?

Speaking at a Radio Times-sponsored event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival today, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat revealed his thinking behind the Doctor’s current regeneration situation – a state of affairs that is nearing crisis levels.

While confirming that the Doctor has a limit on his regenerations (12, if you didn’t know, thereby giving him 13 bodies in total) the wily Scot – who has cast another wily Scot (Peter Capaldi) to replace Matt Smith when his Doctor shuffles off the grid at Christmas – indicated that while we think the Eleventh Doctor is the Eleventh Doctor, he actually isn’t.

He can only regenerate 12 times.

I think you should go back to your DVDs and count correctly this time… there’s something you’ve all missed.

So, what is the wiry-haired, wily Scotsman on about? Could he be suggesting that the restoration of the regenerating Tenth Doctor in Journey’s End should count as a regeneration? Perhaps the problem is with the lack of any regeneration sequence for the Eighth Doctor, or indeed the placement of the “new” Hurt Doctor.

What do you think? How could Doctor Who fans have miscounted?


Tags: , , , ,

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+.

48 Responses to Moffat in Regeneration Teaser!

  1. avatar Peter Webb says:

    The previous incarnations in The Brain of Morbius, perhaps? Use whatever theory you wish you discount them, but, hey, maybe Moffatt is looking back to 1976?
    There’s also the issue of the number of regenerations The Master has had in comparison to the ‘standard’ 13.

  2. avatar Dave Rudin says:

    Was Lalla Ward really Romana(dvoratrelundar) 2 or 2++++++, given how many times she appeared to regenerate at the beginning of “Destiny of the Daleks”???

    • avatar Gruff says:

      Wasn’t that her choosing the appearance for her next incarnation rather than regenerating each time? Did she even regenerate at all or did she just choose to look different having got a little bored of wearing Mary Tamm’s face.

  3. avatar Al says:

    Maybe this is confirmation that Hurt is playing the Eighth Doctor?

  4. avatar Pete da Cald says:

    I certainly think 10′s restoration after the Dalek blast absolutely counts as a regeneration. Why? He as much says so, the whole regeneration sequence is triggered – he simply diverts the majority of the regen energy into his spare hand before it triggers he cellular level metamorphosis responsible for changing his appearance.
    Thus – he might not have used the whole cycle, but the cycle certainly occurred. If it was only a partial renewal to heal the Dalek blast damage then would have had no need to funnel it into his hand (the level of regenerative energy diverted was enough to actually generate an entire body and Doctor from the hand, ergo it was a whole regeneration used!
    What makes this especially interesting is that it further means – Time Lord resurrection (as with Rassilon and The Master) aside – if The Hurt non-Doctor is a bona fide incarnation in his own right, then not only is Matt not the 11th. Doctor – dramatic music please – he is 13th and final incarnation of a bog standard 12 regens/13 bodies Gallifreyen Regeneration Life Cycle.
    How? Doctors 1-8 required 7 regeneration. 8 unto Hurt Doctor, Hurt into Eccleston, Eccles into Tennant, Tennant into Tennant Human Bio Emerg Doc, and Tennant into Smith all took a reggn cycle each for 5 more. 5 + 7 = 12. SO MATT SMITH IS THE 13TH INCARNATION OF THE DOCTOR!!!
    Now the real mystery is how in the snakey hair of The Medusa Cascade does Capaldi come into existence?
    PS And just add more mind blowing conjecture – will The Valeyard be this Doctors “Ultimate Foe”???

    • By ‘eck, I think you’ve got something there… no wonder Mr M looks so gleeful all the time!! God, I bloody love this show….

    • avatar tazdalawson says:

      First Patrick Troughton is the first regeneration, Second that would make Matt Smith the ten regeneration…Yes there are eleven Doctors,but only so far ten regenerations.I said this back in 1982 at a Dr. Who Fanfair in the basement on a hotel Cleveland. Peter Davidson had taken over the role and was doing a great job even with the stories he was given. Everyone began moaning that on the 12 Doctor it will be over, but I said “don’t worry Troughton is the just first regeneration. Minds were blown, angry words, blood spewing, gnashing of teeth, and your regular Fanfair self mutilating mayhem. So lets all take a big breath and release with the knowledge that like the Doctor Moffat lies as well.

  5. avatar John Lindsay says:

    How about the second Doctor’s forced change of appearance? Was it in fact, not a regeneration? Aghh! Moffaaaat!!

    • avatar John Miller says:

      Yes. For years fans have pointed out that:

      a)Hartnell doesn’t regenerate into Troughton. It’s called a “rejuvenation”. Troughton is meant to be a younger Hartnell

      b)The Time Lords change the Doctor’s appearance at the end of The War Games. In Season 7 Pertwee is “doing a Troughton”.

      c)In The Three Doctors the Time Lords talk about the Doctor in the singular, and talk about “before he changed his appearance”, NOT different incarnations.

      d)The first time the word “regeneration” is sued is in Planet of the Spiders and it’s the first time the Doctor has ever been said to “regenerate”, rather than “rejuvenate” or “change his appearance”.

      However, comments in Mawdryn Undead and The Five Doctors put this to rest(or so we thought)

      To say nothing of the recent Regenerations box set!

    • avatar krumstets says:

      The second doctors forced change is the one I feel very sure about . The Time Lords gave him a new identity , it wasn’t part of his usual cycle.
      So we haven’t missed anything at all have we Moffat?

      Have we….?

  6. avatar GallifreyanFallenAngel says:

    Wait, we’ve only seen 9 regenerations on screen, the one unseen being Eight to Nine. John Hurt could be playing an accelerated aged Eight.

  7. avatar authorman94 says:

    I’d imagine Hurt is a Doctor 8.5 rather than either an aged Eighth Doctor, I’d imagine that during the war, he got a whole new set of regenerations and used them all up, with Hurt’s being the last before he ended the war, and as a result, he still has only two regenerations left. Just my theory.

    Really, there’s a lot of arguments as to if the Doctor’s had his life extended on screen. Off the top of my head, there’s the moment in Let’s Kill Hitler where River gives the Doctor her regenerations, there’s Tom’s Doctor fusing with the Watcher in Logopolis, or Tom’s Doctor being revived back to life in Brain of Morbius that could serve as reasons for the Doctor’s prolonged life compared to other Time Lords.

    But ultimately, we don’t know anything until November hits, and then we get answers.

    • avatar Maria says:

      River healed him with her regeneration energies. She did not add to The Doctors tally of regenerations. He returned the favor when he healed her wrist.

  8. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Moffat just loves to make us all paranoid.

  9. avatar lee moone says:

    Lots of loop holes… Dr 2 said he was renewed after changing his appearance on the TARDIS floor. And when his appearance was changed into the ’3rd’ Dr no one said it was a regeneration, just a change of appearance. What about Brain of Morbuis?there were 4 (I think) faces on that brain game machine. If they were the Dr, that would make Hurt No 13. And who said 9 was 9 anyway?

  10. avatar Bren Cook says:

    Troughton to Pertwee was a ‘change of appearance’ not a regeneration.

  11. avatar Kevin Scott Measimer says:

    Its a show about a time traveler. Hurt’s “Doctor” could be an aspect of the Doctor just like the Valyard. The extra faces in Brain of Morbius were of Morbius himself. They alternated. 2 was “regenerated” by the Time Lords but that could have been separate from his regeneration cycle. Yes, we could 9 as ninth but there was nothing to confirm or deny he follows 8, only that the time war was in between. Maybe 11 is the last regeneration and 12 is somehow an additional regeneration and this will affect his mind and actions in the future.

  12. avatar Chris says:

    Wait a minute… Did the 4th doctor actually regenerate…? Rewatch his “regeneration”, it’s more of a morph more than anything…

  13. avatar Clayton says:

    Don’t forget, Rassilon supposedly discovered the secret of perpetual regeneration (The Five Doctors). It has also been implied elsewhere in the Davison era that new regenerations could be bestowed to a Time Lord or transfered from one to another.

  14. avatar Colin says:

    Hmmm… Scream of the Shalka recently came out on DVD, didn’t it? Could John Hurt be an old Richard E. Grant? :)

  15. avatar Gruff says:

    To be honest in some ways (with a fez rather than a deerstalker) I was a little disappointed by the interview, which revealed nothing new, and the questions from the audience didn’t really make up for it either.

    The best questions from the audience were those relating to the writing process rather than those on the details of stories/Who-lore or dealing with friends who don’t like Who/Sherlock. It was very frustrating to be sitting in the balcony and therefore out of range of the roving mics.

    This was the biggest and possibly only thing that he revealed about Who and yet he’s also been touting this (phrased slightly differently) for a long time anyway.

    Think the best thing was him saying he’s watching the recovered stories an episode a night as if it was a newly broadcast show and that as a fan it’s great to see new (to him) Who that he’s not been involved in.

  16. avatar John Miller says:

    Maybe when the Doctor rebooted the Universe, and Amy and Rory “remembered him back”, Smith counts as The Doctor version 2.0?

    (yes, this is a joke, and I seriously hope it’s NOTHING like this…)

    • avatar krumstets says:

      It may be a joke , but a very good idea nonetheless – and I hope it’s not that either ,

  17. avatar TonyS says:

    We didn’t see the regeneration into 9

  18. avatar Lozzer says:

    If you count DT’s partial regeneration and the John Hurt Doctor, then Capaldi is a regeneration beyond the allotted cycle. The master had used up all his regenerations, yet he was still active and able to to continue as if he had a whole new cycle. What does this mean… when in doubt wheel out the Time War – everyone was needed, the situation was grim, unlimited regeneration cycles were given out to all Time Lords as the war worsened and their very existence was at stake.That’s what I think anyway…

  19. avatar D.J. Stone says:

    I am pretty sure that in ‘The Lodger’, after Craig learns of the Time Lords, etc. The Doctor clearly states that he is the 11th, but I am not sure.

  20. avatar Geoff says:

    Whatever happens I think they will address the issue head on and resolve it in the 50th. It’s the ideal time to do it. So that said I don’t think they will take the Hartnell Troughton rejuvenation route, that would only buy a few more regenerations until we were in the same pickle again. I think it’s more likely Matts Doctor will turn out to be a later incarnation along the route of McGann> Hurt> Eccleston> Tennant> Dodgy Madame Tussards hand.

  21. avatar Mark Lenton says:

    Has it never been stated in the narrative that this is the eleventh Doctor? Surely it has. If nothing else in Eleventh Hour he steps through those images of the first ten…

    • avatar Geoff says:

      Matt is the eleventh Doctor, that has been clearly stated yes but he doesn’t have to be the eleventh incarnation of a man who sometimes calls himself the Doctor if you follow. In The Name of the Doctor Clara asked why she hadn’t seen the Hurt Doctor on her journey through his timeline and he answered much along the lines of what I’ve said above. Also the Great Intelligence made reference to the other names the Doctor has gone by, even mentioning the Valeyard……..although he bypassed “Dakta!” which is what 1970s Cybermen caller him.

  22. avatar dr jon says:

    just a thought here what if john hurts dr is in fact his 13th incarnation. As we had seen the dr’s tomb. So hurt may have been his last.Or john hurt is in fact the ninth dr who fought in the time war and was given a whole new12 regenerations.As we know they gave the master a new set of regenerations as he was on his last and also bought rassilon back.

  23. avatar TazdaLawson says:

    First Patrick Troughton is the first regeneration, Second that would make Matt Smith the ten regeneration…Yes there are eleven Doctors,but only so far ten regenerations.I said this back in 1982 at a Dr. Who Fanfair in the basement on a hotel Cleveland. Peter Davidson had taken over the role and was doing a great job even with the stories he was given. Everyone began moaning that on the 12 Doctor it will be over, but I said “don’t worry Troughton is the just first regeneration. Minds were blown, angry words, blood spewing, gnashing of teeth, and your regular Fanfair self mutilating mayhem. So lets all take a big breath and release with the knowledge like the Doctor Moffat lies as well.

  24. avatar dailypop says:

    Sorry to ramble or come off as grouchy, but here is my unrequested opinion on all this.

    The Time Lords themselves refer to the First Doctor as the Doctor’s first incarnation and the Second as the Second in the Three Doctors (ad again in Five Doctors, I believe). This truth is upheld throughout the Davison era as well when the number of incarnations rule is brought up again and again.

    The Valeyard is the Doctor was taken from a possible future in which he gets all evil. So he doesn’t exactly ‘count’ as he is an anomaly.

    The big spanner in the works arrives in Brain of Morbius when the Doctor is shown to have lives beyond what was thought to be his first incarnation, However fandom has generally all but erased this from the group consciousness. So if enough people scream ‘it doesn’t count; apparently it doesn’t count.

    When the Tenth Doctor gets zapped by a Dalek he starts to regenerate yet refuses to change and instead transfers the energy to his severed hand. This has to be the worst piece of writing ever and leaves fans with a few quandries such as did all the other versions of the Doctor choose to regenerate when they didn’t really have to and if this was a deferred regeneration does it really ‘count.’ But the program has not shown any interest in addressing this.

    The Doctor continually refers to himself by a number in the new and old program (especially Name of the Doctor in which Cara states she has seen all of the Doctors and the current is the 11th) so if Moffat is going to rejigger all that and say there was mis-count, he is sorely mistaken and should probably rethink his strategy.

    The 12 regeneration limit (resulting in 143 lives) is not arbitrary, There are twelve hours on a clock face. He is a Time Lord. The only reason to change it is to use another get of jail free card from the program’s restraints because that is what Moffat does.

  25. avatar dailypop says:

    WOW… worst typo ever award goes to 143 when I intended to wrote 13.

  26. avatar vortexter says:

    Rejuvenation is what takes place in the Tardis,.Regeneration is outside the ship.
    Hartnell turns into Troughton. ‘This bodies wearing a little .. ‘Proof that Timelord’s view bodies as apparell. Inside the Tardis he rejuvenates, not regenerates.
    Troughton to Pertwee, Body change to hid his identity forced by the CIA (This could explain the different faces we see during the Doctors battle with Morbius: Various identities when on field missions for the Timelords).
    Pertwee to T Baker: Regeneration pure and simple and outside the Tardis. It’s even referred to as such.
    T Baker to Davison: Regeneration again, no escape from that fall.
    Davison to C Baker: Rejuvanation as he is inside the Tardis. Even the Doctor say’s ‘I call it a renewal’
    C Baker to McCoy: Rejuvanation when caught in the Rani’s trap.
    McCoy to McGann: Regeneration, as ouside the Tardis.
    McGann to Ecclestone: Unknown
    Ecclestone to Tennant; Inside the Tardis, Rejuvenation
    Tennant to Smith: Rejuvenation again inside the Tardis.

    Even Yana rejuvenates to a younger self in the Tardis ‘If the doctor can be young again, so can I!’

    Artron energy is the key. And the Tardis has lots of it.

    • avatar Geoff says:

      I like this. It’s tidy and simple.

      • avatar John Miller says:

        It also makes the Second(First?) Doctor’s comment about “living forever barring accidents” in the War Games fully correct again. If you don’t want to die, get back to the TARDIS! Of course, the Master still managed to go through 13 regenerations.

        Of course, anyone can latch onto any piece of dialogue. In Caves of Androzani, Davison makes a big deal about how “it feels different this time”. A simple line of dialogue, yet fans have chewed it over for nearly 30 years!

  27. avatar TonyS says:

    What we have all missed is River Song telling Amy that the Doctor lies. Including about how many regeneratiions he can have. And yes I know that this ignores others stating that there is a limit. Maybe all Time Lords lie… And other races believe them.

  28. avatar dav2 (whoelse?) says:

    In The Brain of Morbius,, Dr.Who drinks of the seurm of immortality and so resets the clock?

  29. avatar Robin Huntley says:

    How do we know that the Doctor didn’t die in the Time War and was resurrected like the Master!

  30. avatar JBW says:

    Pandorica. Restoration Field. Universe “reset”…hmmm…what else could be “reset” here?

  31. avatar Robin Huntley says:

    The Master took away the Doctor’s Regenerations to show his true age! When the people chanted his name, what if he got his Regeneration’s back + 9:)

  32. avatar Wayne vyner says:

    In the Five Doctors special, when the 1st doctor meets up with the 5th doctor for the first time , the 1st doctor asked the 5th “Regeneration?” To which the 5th doctor responds ” 4th”. The 1st doctor then says ” Goodness me, so there are 5 of me now”. I think all the talk of early Rejuvinations & Renewal were actualy regenerations . They just weren’t called that early on in the series. Other wise the 5th doctor mite have responded to the “Regenerations.” Question like, “Two, but I’ve also had a Rejuvination and a renewal as we’ll”.

  33. avatar Wayne vyner says:

    Also, in mawdryn undead, Mawdryn and his fellows want the doctor to give up his remaining lives to help them die, the doctor says to Tegan something along the lines of ” you don’t understand…. There’s eight of them and eight more of me. “

    • avatar vortexter says:

      You haven’t got to convince us, you have to convince the Moff! He’s the one rewriting established who history!

  34. avatar DonnaM says:

    Moffat stirring the pot again! Loving all the theories, but personally I hope he doesn’t invent some incredibly convoluted “it’s all deeply rooted in the Classic series and is so deadly obscure only the utterly obsessed will get it” way around the issue. I hate it when Doctor Who gets too “clannish and fannish”, I’m sorry!

    Just let the regenerations happen. Have the Doctor look around and say “Oh! Still here, am I?” and have done with it before my head explodes!

  35. avatar John Miller says:

    The alternative is that Smith is supposed to be the 13th, and Capaldi will be the first of the new cycle. Hurt is one of the other “missing” 2. Then you can choose from Tennant’s hand, helping River, what did or didn’t happen in The Impossible Astronaut etc.

    Interestingly in The Name of the Doctor, the Doctor tells Clara that ” I’m everywhere. You’re inside my time stream. Everything around you is me.”

    Does that mean EVERYTHING, or just the human figures? I wouldn’t put even that past Moffat.

    Of course, with nearly 800 tv episodes over 50 years, anyone an latch onto any one piece of dialogue or throwaway remark, and rewrite the show around it…

  36. avatar thecheesaman says:

    I Think he means Big Bang 2.0. The universe was “reset” this probably means that the 12 regeneration does not apply after this next regeneration. Also, thou i agree with pete da cald, Rivers regeneration energy will have given him an extra regeneration. I could of course be completely wrong.

  37. avatar PotterInTheTardis says:

    Well in with the second version of Ten, that came from his hand that had been cut off so I don’t think that it would have anything to do with his regeneration counts. But in Angels in Manhattan, Eleven heals River’s broken wrist and she yells at him for wasting regeneration energy.

Please be aware that all comments are subject to adherence to our comments policy.

Back to Top ↑