Be he the ‘Dark Doctor’, a shadowy, earlier fallen incarnation, or even the eight and a half Doctor; one thing is for sure, Steven Moffat won’t be drawn on the specifics of just where in space and time John Hurt’s Doctor fits.
But that won’t stop him teasing you.
Speaking to SFX Moffat confirmed that this incarnation of the Doctor has been, possibly literally, through the wars; with every facet of his look and attitude tuned to reflect that battle scarred, weary soul:
John Hurt’s costume is quite striking. Is it meant to be a patchwork of previous Doctor costumes?
Not particularly. I can see why people say that. Looking at it face to face it didn’t occur to me as a patchwork of previous Doctors at all. It’s a rougher, tougher Doctor. It looks like somehow he’s been through it a bit. We are saying ‘This isn’t a Doctor who’s just appeared, he’s been around, he’s been in this form for a while.’ So one of the notes was make it look as though he’s been knocking around in this incarnation for a bit.
Hurtling through time and space; legends spread and evidence builds – it’s a contradictory existence for any Time Lord with a reputation and depending on who, or indeed, what you chat to, it might not always ring true.
The same can be said for fandom; opinions are at war, factions break out in the name of the Doctor all the time. So for someone who has their own, very clear idea of who the Doctor is (for his sins), it must have been a thrill for Moffat to final, definitively shape the cannon without contradiction:
And that includes shaping John Hurt’s face fuzz too:
And he’s the first bearded Doctor, too…
I suppose he is – apart from Tom Baker in ‘The Leisure Hive’. Well, he asked if he could keep his beard, and I looked at it and I thought actually, he looks quite good with it. And it’s another indicator that he’s not a fresh-born Doctor. We didn’t want to imply that he’d just been around for a little while. There’s a whole lot of stuff you missed! It’s a nice thing to be able to say in the show, and for no one to be able to contradict you, that there were years that you didn’t know about… we lied and lied, there’s a whole big old chapter you didn’t know.
Are you ready to change everything you thought you knew about the Doctor? Or are less accepting of Moffat’s “unseen chapter”? Are you encouraged by the changes you have seen already or are you ignoring everything and reaching for the big friendly button?