Anticipating The Day of the Doctor

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Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull readies for the big day.

After for what seemed like eons The Day of the Doctor is almost upon us – and like all Doctor Who natives, I’m going potty waiting. Steven Moffat has taken his time teasing the forthcoming special, lacing every interview with an economical spoonful of spoilers. He rather unpredictably left the last series on a cliffhanger – and his viewers on tenterhooks – all in preparation for The Day of the Doctor. Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman are still the principal Doctor and companion (although not for long; sob) but they’ll be joined by late incumbent David Tennant and Billie Piper although it’s not definite that she’ll be starring as Rose Tyler. John Hurt, Clara’s successor as the latest enigma, will also be playing a character now known as ‘the War Doctor’. How he fits into the grand scheme of things is beyond me.

The stage is set for what looks to be a thrilling showstopper to fifty years of everyone’s favourite science-fiction show – and that’s not to say we’ve not got another few decades in us.

The Doctors.

The Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.

day-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(10)Whatever happens in The Day of the Doctor that is so “game-changing”, as Steven Moffat puts it, it’ll affect the Eleventh Doctor the most. From our perspective he’s the current Doctor – tragically not for long now – and will hand over the impact of this episode to the Twelfth Doctor. If the events are so groundbreaking then why doesn’t the Eleventh Doctor already know about it, seeing as he experienced it as the Tenth Doctor? Unless the Tenth Doctor has his memory wiped or the let’s all forget about the anniversary special fairy comes along and waves her magic wand, then the “game-changing” whatever happens to only the Eleventh Doctor, maybe Clara and maybe the War Doctor.

Judging by the recent clip shown at the BBC’s annual Children in Need telethon we should be seeing a lighter side of the Eleventh Doctor – although that’s not to say we won’t be seeing any inner demons. The War Doctor is a secret the Doctor wants to keep under lock and key so presumably he’ll be more than furious when it gets out. This means we’ll see some serious frowning from Matt Smith and that delights me, it’s my favourite expression of his.

The Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant.

The-Day-of-the-Doctor-Extended-TV-Trailer-(37)Once I reached for the remote through moist eyes and clicked off The End of Time: Part Two, that fateful New Year’s Day, I thought that was it for the Tenth Doctor. The only articles I’d write about him would be from hindsight and so that’s why I’m elated at penning a paragraph about the tenth – or possibly eleventh – body of the Doctor.

Clearly the Tenth Doctor will have a bit of a thing with Queen Elizabeth I – as seen in filming reports and the newly-released trailers – as well as some scenes with the character Billie Piper is playing (I’ll get onto that in a mo). I think his dalliance with ‘Queenie’ is the same one referenced in the first half of The End of Time when the Tenth Doctor proclaims to Ood Sigma, “[that he] got married. That [it] was a mistake. Good Queen Bess. And let me tell you, her nickname is no longer… Ahem”. If this is true then that’ll place The Day of the Doctor, in the Tenth Doctor’s timeline, between The Waters of Mars and The End of Time. Like I said before the mind-wipe trope might come into play or the production team might choose to pretend it never happened – but that’s not Moffat’s style. The opportunity is too good to miss so I’m almost definite that Liz I’s relationship with the Tenth Doctor is same as the one referenced in The End of Time.

The War Doctor, played by John Hurt.

day-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(13)-hurtThis is where I get stuck. I have no idea who the War Doctor is. I have an inkling: a tiny notion of who he is. I’m not one to theorize so it’s not completely formed but it’s that the Doctor has had twelve bodies. The Eighth Doctor regenerated into the War Doctor, a version of the Doctor that doesn’t actually do what it says on the tin. There have been eleven Doctors and one other. The Doctor, as the Eleventh Doctor put it in The Name of the Doctor, is simply a name, one John Hurt’s incarnation doesn’t take. I know in the masterful mini-episode recently released online – The Night of the Doctor – Hurt is credited as ‘the War Doctor’, but I think this is just something Moffat dubbed him so that we know what to call him until his origins are explained. There have been eleven Doctors but not eleven bodies. We think we’re referring to the number of bodies, we’re actually referring to the number of times the name (‘the Doctor’) has been used. Anyway, that’s my little pet theory, feel free to poke holes in it in the comments below.

John Hurt is, frankly, a spellbinding actor. He’s one of the greatest veteran performers in this day and age and he’s proved himself to me. Not in his brief couple of lines in The Name of the Doctor but in other films like V for Vendetta and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Whatever he does in The Day of the Doctor, it’s bound to be extraordinary.

The Companions.

Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Coleman.

day-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(26)-claraNow that Clara is free of the horrendous ‘whose enigma’ nonsense that stalked Series Seven: Part Two – and her Louise – she can now develop as a character and not an object of fancy for the Doctor. Her inclusion in the recent string of episodes, I felt, was only because the Doctor couldn’t dunk her in some formaldehyde and then in a showcase in the TARDIS (perhaps he shouldn’t have foiled Mrs. Gillyflower, of The Crimson Horror’s, plans and just taken Clara in her bell-jar back to the TARDIS?). He had to take her with him but only so he could study her and hopefully work out what she really was. Now that everything’s been explained what will become of Clara? We know she’ll be sticking by the Eleventh and the Twelfth Doctor’s side but will he finally treat her well? I’m not saying the Eleventh Doctor doesn’t care about her, he does but there was too much of a ‘protect the specimen’ element to their relationship. In The Snowmen he took her onboard because he saw she fit his requirements for a companion and this was all fine and dandy before he discovered her secret, then he just got a bit obsessive.

Jenna Coleman is a wholly capable actress but I think she’s been a bit underutilized. She hasn’t been given anything that has pushed her abilities (Billie Piper had Father’s Day, Freema Agyeman had Human Nature/The Family of Blood, Catherine Tate had Turn Left and Karen Gillan had The Girl Who Waited amongst others) and hopefully The Day of the Doctor might see her talents pressed into service.

Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper.

day-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(23)-roseNow this one is tricky. Den of Geek did a terrific article a short while back that pretty much proved that the character Billie Piper is playing – the one with the glowing eyes and the beautiful I want to touch it hair – might not actually be Rose Tyler. I’d like it to be Rose (others are the opposite) but if she plays an integral part of the plot (“The moment is coming”) and Moffat does something that isn’t extraneous then I’ll be happy. Just seeing Billie Piper on screen (with her lovely new hair) is a joy, I’m happy either way.

The Villains and Monsters.

The Daleks.

daleks-50th-anniversaryIn an anniversary special, celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who, it was inevitable that the tyrannical tins of terror would be making an appearance along the way. It was confirmed rather early on this year – just so they could issue some thrilling promotional pictures and because it was completely inexorable – and so the reaction from fans was immense. After Moffat tried to breathe life back into the pepperpots in Asylum of the Daleks they’ve been mostly avoided although I’m almost certain they’ll return for Peter Capaldi’s opening series, if not his second. Rumour has it that the Daleks will be seen in the Time War – the trailer pretty much confirms this – and we all know what they did there. How deep Moffat will go into it… well, only time will tell.

The Zygons.

day-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(18)-zygonI’ve got sweaty palms just typing the name of the be-suckered villain; they’re such an iconic and hotly anticipated menace. They’re Tennant’s favourite (I’m sure that was one of the conditions of his return: the Zygons had to come back with him) and mine, even though they only appeared once in the absolutely thrilling Terror of the Zygons. A recently released clip revealed that the BBC have roughly stuck to the original voice from back then and they’ve not changed in the design. Not much. Like with the Ice Warriors, it’s good to see that the BBC haven’t altered anything drastically – staying true to the original is just how I like it.

Time and space debris.

Of course that isn’t all. The Day of the Doctor has been hyped up to the max and I’d be disappointed if it was just the above lot that we got. Moffat and his cohorts have saying it’s going to take the breath out of your lungs, we’re all expecting something magnificent. The tabloids have latched onto this and for the first half of 2013 feasible rumours did the rounds – is Carole Ann Ford stepping into Susan’s shoes once more? Is Louise Jameson returning? Or is Karen Gillan’s feisty Scots redhead turning up to face both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor? Naturally fans have acclimatized to these types of rumours, taking each with a hazardous amount of salt. I hope there’s some truth in at least a few of the rumours, not all of them seem cogent but others could work. Then there’s the steady flow of reoccurring Doctor stories: will Tom Baker come back? Will Christopher Eccleston shock us all by popping up all big ears and smiles? And will the mysterious ‘Fish Doctor’ campaign influence The Day of the Doctor? Hold onto your seats, kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride…