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Costume designer confirms Hurt’s role on Doctor Who to Prince Charles

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NOTE: Possible spoilers below

While the Doctor Who finale in May left fans with questions about “who” exactly John Hurt’s character is and how he fits into the Doctor Who mythos, it looks like two Who “superfans” have uncovered some answers — Prince Charles of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall.

The Prince, who has watched the show since he was 15, and the Duchess visited the BBC studios to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, which will be marked by a special 3D episode in November. During the set tour, the Telegraph reports costume designer Howard Burden confirmed to the couple that the anniversary episode will feature John Hurt, who will play a “dark Doctor” seen briefly at the end of the last season.

“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,” Burden said, confirming what many fans already suspected.

The anniversary special will air Nov. 23, shortly before current Doctor Matt Smith leaves the show.

(Hat Tip)


  • ManuelAlejndro

    It was pretty obvious. I don’t understand why people keep making thoeries!. IT IS THERE, RIGHT IN THE END OF THE SEASON°

  • David Fullam

    John Hurt as The Doctor. Pretty much spells it out.

  • Drew

    People assumed he’d be the valeyard (that how you spell it?)

  • dusk

    People were idiots. The Doctor only knows the faces of his past incarnations, not future incarnations, and it was pretty obvious he recognized John Hurt’s incarnation through his comments to Clara. So, John Hurt = Past Doctor. Why overthink it?

  • D

    So this his designation would be the Ninth Doctor or something?

  • ManuelAlejndro

    Here’s the trick. John Hurt might be 9th Incarnation of the time lord.. But he’s not the man (“the name” as he says at the end of the episode) he chose to be, ergo, “The Doctor”, because “He broke the promise”, i think because all the war, and sacrifice and sttuf. Pretty easy. and you don’t need no re-assign doctors.

    Gimme a cookie.

  • dusk

    No idea. The Doctor did say he doesn’t call that incarnation of himself “The Doctor” because of the things he did. It’s pretty possible that John Hurt’s incarnation would take a different name for himself. Thus, the current Doctor would still be the 11th, instead of the 12th.

  • dusk

    Aww.. we got the same idea. I guess we need to share the same cookie, too.

  • Meekrob

    All I can say is, given what 9, 10, and 11 have been responsible for, 8.5 must’ve done something REALLY bad.

  • Travis

    Or, bad writing.

    Moffet’s going to ignore the fact that 9, 10, and 11 have never denied responsibility for what they did during the Time War (or the genocides they’ve committed since) and rewrite history so that all of a sudden he’s decided to disown his own actions.

  • LightningBug

    Not denying responsibility doesn’t mean that they don’t hate and wish to disown the incarnation that did all that stuff. It isn’t bad writing to flesh out the emotional resonance of the thing within us all that that is capable of committing atrocity under extreme circumstances. In fact, this show’s unique ability to put a specific face on that concept is one of the aspects of Doctor Who that make it so fantastically adept at fulfilling one of science fiction’s most crucial functions: constructing metaphors that comment on the human condition. Good thing they’ve got such an awesome show-runner like Moffat who isn’t afraid to piss off a few whiners instead of avoiding compelling stories to satisfy narrow interpretations of past continuity.

  • Troy Younger

    If John Hurt is an aged version of Paul McGann’s Doctor, then why not just use Paul McGann?

  • LightningBug

    He’s a regeneration after Paul McGann, and before Eccleston. I’d imagine they didn’t use McGann because by some gift of the universe John Hurt agreed to be on Doctor Who.

  • Troy Younger

    That means the numbering has been off since Eccleston.

  • caleb jones

    Prior Doctors have met their future selves in episodes like the 5 Doctors and the 3 Doctors, so it would be possible for Hurt to be a future Doctor. While unlikely, the Prince might be misleading us perhaps…

  • LightningBug

    11 said that Hurt doesn’t “get to” call himself the Doctor. That suggests that from the Doctor’s perspective, the 9th regeneration wasn’t the Doctor at all. Yes, 11 is really this timelord’s 12th regeneration, but he’s the 11th one that lives up to the name “the Doctor” and therefore he’s the 11th Doctor. It’s not really so complicated ;)

  • .GONNY

    hahaha (since when has Occam’s razor EVER applied to Moffat-era Doctor Who?)

  • stephenmonteith

    I’d always thought Hurt was the Doctor before he was ever the Doctor; that he’d done something terrible, unforgiveable, and that he took the name of ‘the Doctor’ so he could spend the rest of his life in penance.

  • mechanical-legs

    “Prince Charles of Wales” – oof. Go with the Prince of Wales or Prince Charles, please.

  • Travis

    Disowning that incarnation IS a denial of responsibility. He’s literally saying that it wasn’t “The Doctor” who did it, which contradicts everything from, “I watched it happen, I MADE it happen!” to “I was the only one would could end it,” to “Fear me, I killed all of them.”

    It’s bad writing.

  • Travis

    That would be SOOOOO much better than what we are getting.

  • demoncat_4

    in other words john hurt is the doctor that may become the master in the current time line of the show. or the doctor who ended the time war and has kept hidden due to how the doctor ended it espically the way the doctor told clara he broke the promise of my name.

  • demoncat_4

    like maybe hurt is the doctor who during the time war destroys the daleks by wiping them and the other time lords out by destroying galifrey .

  • TheGavGav

    That’s what I thought! It would have been awesome if John Hurt was The Doctor when he went by his Time Lord name (hence why the Doctor never discloses his real name) and he did something extremely heartless. When he regenerated William Hartnell’s First Doctor was filled with remorse, denounced his name and became a pacifist compelled to help others in redemption for his acts as his first incarnation.

  • stephenmonteith

    He’s never denied his part in the Time War, though. In fact, he talks about it with relative frequency. Whatever John Hurt did, it’s something we haven’t seen yet.

  • demoncat_4

    we haven’t seen the time war itsself either so should be interesting to learn what part john hurt as the doctor who is not worthy to be considered the doctor any more part is in the time war.

  • LightningBug

    It’s really amazing that you know how poorly written this episode is when it hasn’t come out yet. Are you hiding a Tardis in your bedroom closet or something? Whether or not this story turns out to be good, it is bad fandom to assume that something is bad if it violates YOUR concept of how continuity should be handled. Your complaint amounts to little more than “I’m not getting my way”. I’ll enjoy myself while sticking with Moffat who has kept me consistently entertained, and you can sulk in a corner about bad writing that hasn’t happened yet because you’re pissed that it might violate your sense of right in a fictional universe. Have fun with that.

  • Troy Younger

    It doesn’t matter what he calls himself. If your theory is correct, Smith’s Doctor is #12. There was a throw away line in an episode of Sara Jane Adventures where Smith say’s a Time Lord has 507 regens. I wonder if that will come into play.