With Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary this coming Saturday the BBC has planned an all-out cinematic spectacular that has the hearts of die-hard fans (calling themselves Whovians) all a flutter. This special episode, called Day of the Doctor, brings fan favorited David Tennant (the tenth doctor) and Billie Piper (Rose) back into the action. It also introduces an interesting new character and may very well answer a nagging Whovian question.
For those not so intimately familiar with the Doctor, he has the ability to regenerate when he faces death – allowing the character to live on in another body. He has done this, that we know of, a total of ten times; thus creating 11 distinct Doctors. His new body shares all the memories of the previous incarnation(s) but may have a slightly altered personality and ego (certainly a difference in personal taste) than the previous Doctor(s).
The original series ran continuously from November 23, 1963 until December 6, 1989 before being cancelled. The very last episode of the original series (Survival) shows the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) walking off into the sunset; supposedly to have many more adventures. Indeed, the Seventh Doctor did live on in two short TV specials (1990 and 1993), dozens of audio dramas, and at least 60 novels published by Virgin Books.
The audience isn’t introduced to the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) until 1996, in a one-off made-for-TV movie. Near the beginning we are shown the Seventh Doctor changing into the Eighth; thus sealing the gap between the two Doctors and creating a sense of finality. However, much like the final December 1989 television episode, the movie ends happily with the Doctor piloting the TARDIS off to further adventures (realized in 8 novels, 38 comics and 75 audio plays).
The series started up again in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston taking on the role of Doctor Who. The BBC simply continued the stories, rather than reboot (as is the popular recent method), but chose not to show any regeneration. Eccleston was just introduced as the current Doctor, leaving fans to assume he was the ninth.
Thankfully, there has been some recent closure.
We now know from a short video, titled Night of the Doctor, that the BBC has posted on their website that the Eighth Doctor does officially regenerate…
…into someone the BBC is calling The War Doctor (played by John Hurt).
Please note the older style Sonic Screwdriver partially obscured by the War Doctor’s coat.
This has left some fans – myself included – wondering if this War Doctor will then regenerate into the official Ninth Doctor (played by Christopher Eccleston); as his is the [now] one and only regeneration not shown on camera.
As of this blog entry, it is still possible that there have been multiple regenerations between this new War Doctor and the Ninth Doctor. No fan truly knows for sure… however, the director’s choice of wardrobe sure seems to indicate a possible connection between John Hurt’s and Christopher Eccleston’s depictions of the character (shown below).
One might conclude that the War Doctor’s wardrobe seems to be a near perfect transition between the Eighth Doctor’s debonair, overly stuffy, Victorian-era (steam-punk?) style and the minimalist Ninth Doctor’s worn leather jacket and V-neck jumper. I’d go as far as to say the War Doctor’s leather coat is an exact replica.
Anyone needing proof of the Whovian’s willingness to accept this theory, effectively renumbering the most recent Doctors, look no further than these two images recently posted to fan sites:
Exciting times, indeed.
As the Ninth (Tenth?) Doctor would say: FanTAStic!