‘Doctor Who’ 50th Anniversary Special Images; New Regeneration Details

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Doctor Who 50 Anniversary Special Images Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Images; New Regeneration Details

WARNING: The following post contains SPOILERS for the season 7 finale of Doctor Who. If you are not caught up on the show, proceed with caution.

For nearly half a century, The Doctor and his companions have traversed time and space to entertain viewers around the globe. Now, Doctor Who is preparing to celebrate its 50th Anniversary – with a near-feature-length special that brings back fan-favorite 10th Doctor David Tennant to team with soon-to-be regenerated 11th Doctor Matt Smith. Further complicating matters is the mysterious presence of John Hurt, also credited as “The Doctor,” who was admonished by number 11 in the season 7 finale and asserted, “What I did, I did without choice. In the name of peace and sanity.

At this point, it’s unclear exactly where Hurt’s (presumably past) version of the Doctor falls into the timeline. Given the crazy universe of Doctor Who, it’s also possible that the character is not  a full-fledged incarnation of the Doctor and that the 50th anniversary special will reveal an alternate explanation for his presence (and titular namesake). Yet, new official photos have surfaced that add further credence to what many people initially expected: Hurt is probably playing a secret version of the Doctor – one that the Gallifreyan is ashamed (or scared) to acknowledge.

The photos come courtesy of official BBC channels and feature Matt Smith (The 11th Doctor), David Tennant (The 10th Doctor), John Hurt (“The Doctor”), Jenna-Louise Coleman (Clara Oswald), and Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart).

Check them out below:

Arguably, the most revealing element of the photo is the relationship that Hurt’s character will have with the other two Doctors – specifically that, contrary to what might have been initially expected, it looks as though “The Doctor” plays nice with number 10 and 11 (for at least part of the episode). Tennant and Smith had previously indicated that their Doctors would get along with the Hurt character but many fans still speculated that “The Doctor” would be an overall malevolent (albeit possibly empathetic) force – and the main antagonist for the 50th Anniversary episode. While these official stills are taken entirely out of context, the side-by-side shot of the three “Doctors” seems to indicate that Hurt might, in fact, be teaming-up with Tennant and Smith to right his prior wrongs.

The photos also provide a look at Hurt’s sonic screwdriver, which is tucked into an artillery-style bandoleer belt across his chest, and features a red emitter. While non-Doctor characters have made their own sonic devices (i.e. Sarah Jane Smith’s sonic lipstick), the presence of a new version of the iconic tool certainly adds further credence to the belief that Steven Moffat isn’t pulling any tricks – and that Hurt is playing a previously undisclosed regeneration of the Doctor.

The writer/producer recently spoke at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, reaffirming that the Doctor can only regenerate 12 times – but teasing fans that their count might be off: “I think you should go back to your DVDs and count correctly this time. There’s something you’ve all missed.” Moffat is likely referring to the fact that we never see the Paul McGann to Christopher Eccleston regeneration, the only time that viewers don’t have access to the Doctor-to-Doctor transformation over 50 years. This means that Hurt could, in theory, have existed in that portion of the Doctor’s timeline – without causing enormous continuity problems – which could make Peter Capaldi’s 12th (or possibly 13th) Doctor the final one.

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special Images; New Regeneration Details

Unless, of course, the Doctor stole another person’s body in the time between Paul McGann to Christopher Eccleston (a strategy used by the Master) cheating the regeneration limit or, as many believe, River Song could have transferred several of her own regenerations to the Doctor in the episode “Let’s Kill Hitler,” among other possible explanations. Again, given that Hurt appeared in “The Name of the Doctor” (within the Doctor’s collapsing timeline) it was always safe to assume he was inserting an unknown version of The Doctor into the mix; still, we wouldn’t put it past the show to pull a few tricks and deliver an alternate explanation.

We’ll keep you up to date as we hear more, but in the meantime, check out our Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List.


Matt Smith will return as Doctor Who on November 23rd for the 50th Anniversary Special – followed by the 2013 Christmas Special on December 25th.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for further updates on Doctor Who as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

Source: BBC and Radio Times

Follow Ben Kendrick on Twitter @benkendrick
TAGS: Doctor who
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  1. River doesn’t have sonic lipstick. That’s Sarah Jane Smith.

    • Thanks! That was a holdover from an earlier draft where I listed River’s screwdriver (the one The Doctor gave her). Forgot to swap in Sarah Jane’s name.

  2. I think it would be cool, if for the 50th since the next doctor has been cast, if he is like in the shadows or somehow interacts with them briefly without any of them knowing who he is. just a fun thought.

    ALSO WHERE IS A TRAILER!?! SERIOUSLY??? I understand not wanting to spoil anything, but not even a tease? Not even something that shows Matt and David standing next to each other, or a lot of running shots? none of that would be spoilery but would still be cool to see.

    • I think it’s because the BBC is currently airing Strictly Come Dancing and focused completely on that for now (the only drama commercials I’ve seen from them recently are for the second season of The Paradise, which I’d never heard of until yesterday).

      • Have you heard Ben Wheatley is going to direct a few episodes? that is a bold choice in my opinion, no one else seems to be talking about it?

    • Yeah exactly! I mean, it’s little over a month left to the biggest Doctor Who event of all time, and the extent of their publicity has been… two lame five-second teasers with no footage, some not-particularly interesting stills and Moffat just going round talking about it. Way to drum up the excitement. Fine, don’t show us the Comic-Con footage, but show us SOMETHING for goodness’ sake.

  3. Could he be who the Doctor was before he became the Doctor. The first Dr was William Hartnell, but was the title taken to hide who he was before. Was the William Hartnell Dr running away from Gallifray to escape his original incarnation. John Hurt regenerates into William Hartnell, hides his identity, and takes the name Doctor before leaving Gallifray in a stolen Tardis. Maybe we’ll find out the Doctors name.

  4. Hmmm..I noticed that John Hurt’s “Doctor” is wearing #9’s U-Boat jacket, I think. (#9 = Christoper Eccleston)

    • Damn good eye sir!

  5. Is it me or is John Hurt morphing into Ian Mckellan greadually?

  6. Hurt’s the real ninth Doctor and the one who ended the Time War, causing the genocide of both the Time Lords and Daleks. Can’t wait to watch it in 3D. Geronimo!!

  7. Another possible theory is that Hurt is the original, let me try and explain, we all know that the 1st doctor (Hartnell) stole the Tardis but it has never been stated emphatically that this was his 1st body just that it was the 1st doctor. The 9th doctor was born of battle (stated by the 10th doctor). When Clara is inside the doctors personal time stream she sees all incarnations of him (keep in mind she watched over him that entire time so she know all the doctors) and then the mystery man (John Hurt) the doctor who is not the doctor. So yes he could be the the actual 9th (time war doctor) but then Clara would have watched him during that time frame wouldn’t she or he is the man before all doctors the original (number 0).
    Not sure if that is clear but its a possible answer to it all.

  8. I believe the Hurt Doctor is a future incarnation that 11 and possibly 10 know about. I don’t think he is a past Doctor. I think he is a future which will be nullified by something 10 and 11 do in the big Episode…

    Finally I am surprised Moffat would go against the statement by the BBC that changes the Doctor to having unlimited Regenerations.

    • I think John Hurt is actually the Valeyard.

  9. My God it does look like 9’s jacket! Well perhaps somehow 9 and 10 will undo the Time War?

    • I mean 10 and 11 😉

  10. Or would they then be 12 and 13? :)

  11. Question..after all this time why have I not seen yet 1 photo of Billie Piper (rose) on set? Have I missed it?

  12. you go to save Professor song and the doctor in the library

    tell me if you share my idea
    moffat I hope you are agreeing to our humble advice

    would be a wonderful thing if a mysterious boy from the future would save the lives of both
    moffat think time can be rewritten and you can do it not disappoint those who appreciate you

    if the wife of the man most beloved of all creation will die
    the universe will fall into darkness

  13. we do not want matt smith leaves the series and even alex kingston
    Doctor and River want an ending as it should be for these two characters
    Moffat does not disappoint fansplease!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Not sure why this has to be the final Doctor. River gave him all her re-generations, she only used 2. If he used 1, then he still has 9 more to go. Or if this is considered the 4th, since this would be the 13th Doctor, then he has 8.

    • that is a really good theory. given how deeply in love river is with the doctor (although i still think that it happened a bit quickly), she did save his life. and it would be a simple way of continuing the show after he has used up his normal run of regenerations.

  15. On a different note, I hope they work the song “Safe and Sound” in here. That song always reminds me of 10th and Rose.