Who is Hurt’s Who?

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Guest contributor Tom Colman speculates on the big Series 7 reveal.

WARNING: Full finale spoilers follow!


So The Name of the Doctor has now aired and the biggest question on most Whovians’ lips is, “Who is John Hurt’s incarnation of the Doctor?” Recent rumours aside, I don’t think it is that hard to make a judgement call and an educated guess, something I am sure all the Who fans are and have been doing since last night.

Now, thanks to last night’s episode and The Lodger I think it is clear to state there has only been, so far, eleven incarnations of the Doctor. That is to say, nobody came before Hartnell, he in my mind is the definitive First Doctor – this to me shows Hurt cannot come before William. He can’t come in-between either – basically because we saw Hartnell regenerate all the way up to McGann, with the only real space coming between Troughton and Pertwee. The age of Hurt’s Doctor could well suggest he came between these two (after all the Doctor seems to be getting “younger” with each regeneration) however, I don’t think the story allows for this.

After McGann, we got a fresh a Doctor, Eccleston and how great he was – suffering clear survivor’s guilt due to something that happened between the TV Movie and Rose, what that was we shall get to later – however we saw 9 regenerate all the way up to 11 with no space for Hurt’s Doctor in-between. This suggests to me that he came between Doctors 8 and 9, after all, he cannot come after Smith as the Eleventh Doctor clearly remembers him.

With the facts so far it is clear Hurt must come between incarnations – I have read somewhere, recently that he could be an older version of 8. However I don’t think the evidence from last night’s episode allows this. Clara, after all, states she helped all 11 incarnations and did not see his one – being an older version of 8 makes him incarnation 8 nonetheless and Clara should have encountered him. No, he is someone different.


Now, The Name of the Doctor made it clear at the end of the episode that that the name the Doctor chose was a promise and important. Let’s travel all the way back to The Sound of Drums and something the Master said: “The Doctor, the man who makes people better.” While not a very important line at the time, I think it has become very significant now! Don’t Doctors promise to try and make people better?

The Doctor states that while not an incarnation of the Doctor, Hurt is an actual incarnation of himself, the one that broke the promise. So what would a Doctor breaking a promise of being a Doctor actually do? Simple: instead of making people better, make people sicker, make people die. Let us go back to Eccleston’s Doctor, the Doctor who has clearly come from a traumatic experience, a Doctor as I mentioned suffering survivor’s guilt.

It has been established that the Doctor did end the Time War in a traumatic way, how we are not sure. But we do know it was thanks to something called ‘the Moment’. Regardless of how the Time War ended. I would argue that the sides of the war could be considered sick, after all war is not healthy, the war clearly needed a Doctor.

Hurt’s Doctor said something a little cryptic: “I did without choice” and he did it “in the name of peace and sanity.” The Eleventh Doctor responded by saying “but not in the name of the Doctor!” As I mentioned before the job of the Doctor is to make people better, to save people from death. To me Hurt has done something, that all though was needed to be done. It goes against everything the Doctor stands for.

So based on all the facts so far. Hurt has to come between Doctors and he has to have done something that goes against the name of the Doctor – this for me places him between 8 and 9. Hurt’s Doctor is the Doctor that fought in the Time War, not McGann’s as we first though. Hurt was the one who possessed the moment and ended the war, killing all the Time Lords, going against everything the Doctor stands for. Why he regenerated into Ecceston remains to be seen. But the actions he could have done are clearly remembered and felt by Chris, even if he doesn’t remember the incarnation.

We, also, perhaps see remnants of Hurts Doctor in the Tenth incarnation. We all know the Doctor despises guns and would never use one. But in The End of Time, the return of The Time Lords caused him to abandon the creed.

Regardless, the question of who Hurt’s Doctor is actually is, or where he places in the order isn’t what we need to be asking – It’s just what did he do to go against the name of the Doctor and what did he do to make the last three incarnations to forget him. Whatever the case, Moffat’s statement of the secret being a game changer for Who wasn’t an underestimation in the slightest. This is going to change Who forever!

But what are your theories on Hurt’s Doctor? Have your say in the comments below!