WARNING – MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT
Derek showed me this article this morning. http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-09-11/doctor-who-50th-anniversary-special-what-clues-does-the-poster-hold-about-the-day-of-the-doctor
It’s pretty cool, really. All the theories. All the interesting everything – the return of the Tenth Doctor and Rose, the possibility of some more backstory to the Time War, and the incredible buggering question, WHO THE BLOODY HELL IS JOHN HURT MEANT TO BE?!
At the end of the Series 7 finale, after the Eleventh Doctor and Clara have resolved the crisis, they find themselves “in” the Doctor’s timeline. He calls it “the scar tissue of my journey through the universe,” and of course his is bigger and shining-er and longer than probably anyone else’s ever. And there, in the dusty room, various versions of the Doctor are running around. (You even catch a glimpse of Christopher Eccleston as he dashes by superimposed on the dust rising around Clara.) Then the Doctor, being very much an idiot, jumps into his own timestream to come find and rescue Clara. All the previous versions of him disappear. And then you see, looking out over a cliff with his back to them, a gray-haired figure.
Clara, who was “born to save the Doctor,” knows all of his previous incarnations – that we have seen – by heart, from William Hartnell to Matt Smith. She asks who that man is. She doesn’t know him. But the Doctor replies, “Me.”
He then urges her to back away. Clara protests that she hasn’t seen that one. “Eleven faces, all of them you,” she says. “You’re the Eleventh Doctor.”
Eleven shakes his head in frustration. “I said he was me. I never said he was the Doctor.”
He explains that the name you choose is a promise you make, and that that incarnation, standing alone with his back to them, broke the promise.
Then the unknown incarnation speaks. “What I did, I did without choice…in the name of peace and sanity.” (This was my first clue that John Hurt’s Doctor had something to do with the Time War. All three of the incarnations since New Who began have reiterated time and time again that his actions in the Time War were inevitable. He had no choice.)
Then Eleven retorts, “Not in the name of the Doctor,” and turns away, carrying Clara.
John Hurt turns around. The screen reads, “Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor,” and then “To Be Continued.”
I’m a proponent of the John Hurt = 8.5 theory – that the Eighth Doctor entered the Time War, aged heroically (or he aged before entering the War – that’s irrelevant), performed the heinous act that I don’t think we quite know the details of, regenerated into the Ninth Doctor at some point, and bumped into Rose Tyler in London in 2005.
Steven Moffat commented to the Radio Times (apparently in a different article than the one I cited above) that “You all [to the fandom] need to go back to your DVDs. There’s something you’re all missing.” What is missing from the Doctor’s journey through space and time as we have seen it? His regeneration from Eight to Nine. Now it may be wishful thinking to hope that we get to see the Eight-Nine regeneration someday, if only for the privilege of seeing Christopher Eccleston return to Doctor Who, but I still think that’s a bit important. That’s one thing that’s missing.
Though Eleven reiterated that John Hurt (for convenience’s sake, 8.5) is not the Doctor, less than a minute later Eight-point-five is credited, on screen, as “The Doctor.” Whether this is for continuity or clarification I don’t know, but I think that’s telling. The Doctor may not believe in 8.5’s Doctor status, but the writers do. Hmm. Some sort of reveal down the road where the Doctor learns to accept everyone he’s been?
In the first episode of the revived series, Nine is temporarily casual-ing about in Rose Tyler’s apartment. He sees himself in a mirror and remarks, “I’ve had worse, but ooh, the ears!” This seems to indicate that he has recently regenerated and not had time to look at his own face. Though Clive shows Rose three photos of Nine throughout time (1963, 1912, 1883) in that episode, I still think his regeneration may have been quite recent.
Also, in the first episode, Nine and Rose battle the Nestene Consciousness, and he talks about their having been involved in the Time War. He mentions that they need energy and food, having lost their strength in the War. Again, implying that it is fairly recent.
I also noticed that Nine has a greater tendency to use violence than the screwdriver against the Consciousness and the living plastic. That would point to his having recently come off a violent and horrible war.
Also, I found this.
“There was a gap between Paul McGann playing the Doctor and Christopher Eccleston, when we didn’t see a regeneration, and John Hurt will fit into that gap. He is a past Doctor, not a future Doctor.” (costume designer Howard Burden)
And this, a revealing bit from the Wikipedia article on the Time War.
“Writer Lance Parkin speculated in an essay that the two destructions of Gallifrey may be the same event seen from two different perspectives, with the Eighth Doctor present twice (and both times responsible for the planet’s destruction). This is supported due to the novels’ destruction of Gallifrey involving an evil future version of the Eighth Doctor as the leader of the invading force, with the events leading to Gallifrey’s destruction being triggered by the Doctor’s attempt to prevent that future from coming to pass.”
Eighth Doctor present twice: Paul McGann and John Hurt. Perhaps somehow there are two of him at that point. Maybe similarly to how there are two together in the 50th anniversary special (David Tennant and Matt Smith). Either way, it happens. There he is – twice. John Hurt is the evil version. The Doctor has to destroy the planet because otherwise he would have destroyed the planet. He saves them from himself. Is that the horrible thing we so often hear alluded to? Is perhaps what Ten described in The End of Time as the Time Lords turning into dictatorial assholes (turning to the Dark Side, if you will) about to happen to him? Is that why?
In the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Gallifrey Chronicles, it is referred to that the Doctor’s timeline splits and there are three different versions of Nine. Christopher Eccleston, John Hurt perhaps? Who else?
Granted, those are not necessarily canonical and probably disregarded by the television writers, although there is so little information about Eight.
All in all, I can’t wait to know, and I absolutely adore Christopher Eccleston.