This contains complete spoilers for the Series 7 Part Two Finale The Name of the Doctor…
Last week I was still scoffing at the rumours surrounding John Hurt’s appearance in the 50th Anniversary. It was The Sun reporting after all. I am still curious about the “kind of trinity” John Hurt described playing the Doctor alongside the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith). I had assumed the appearance of the Tenth Doctor with his companion Rose was actually the clone Doctor who now resides with Rose in a parallel universe. But Steven Moffat is nothing if not ambitious. I’m looking forward to his twist on the paradox of a past and present Doctor existing in the same time-frame.
In the Series 7 finale the mystery of Clara’s many lives and the Doctor’s greatest secret were revealed. Trenzalore was a place the Doctor was never supposed to go. As Dorium warned him “It’s all still waiting for you: the fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the Eleventh, and the question!”
The trap is set when the Doctor’s friends will travel where the Doctor ends.
It was Dr Simeon, The Great Intelligence, (Richard E. Grant) and his chilling Whisper Men that forced the Doctor to Trenzalore. Holding Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax and Clara hostage, Simeon demands the Doctor open his tomb, his own dead Tardis. There is a password, of course, the Doctor’s true name.
River Song, however, in the form of an echo, saves the Doctor from having to utter the word. Inside the tomb we discover, not a body, but his own “personal time-tunnel”, his path through time and space from Gallifrey to Trenzalore.
Simeon has found the way to destroy the Doctor completely. Throwing himself into the time-tunnel, an “open wound”, the Doctor’s life is re-written, as is time itself.
It would kill me. It will destroy you. I can rewrite your every living moment. I can turn every one of your victories into defeats, poison every friendship, deliver pain to your every breath.
While the world is collapsing around them, Clara runs into the time-stream, shattering herself into millions of Clara’s along space and time. The Impossible Girl made Possible.
I don’t know where I am, I just know I’m running. Sometimes it’s like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand places. I’m born, I live, I die. And always there’s the Doctor. Always I’m running to save the Doctor. Again and again and again. And he hardly ever hears me, but I’ve always been there right from the very beginning, right from the day he started running.
The Doctor Who crew showed off some of the new effects we can expect in the 50th Anniversary. In the opening scene, Clara was digitally inserted into old footage featuring past Doctors William Hartnell, Colin Baker, Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Jon Pertwee, Patrick Troughton, and Peter Davison. In later scenes we saw or heard all of the Doctor’s (as there’s one Doctor, but many Doctors, where do you put the apostrophe?) old incarnations in scenes with Dr. Simeon and Clara.
Clara’s sacrifice , of course, saves the Doctor, and the world as Whovians know it. But the Doctor wasn’t going to leave Clara in the time-stream to be consumed. It is when the Doctor rescues Clara that his greatest secret is revealed.
“My name, my real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is, “the Doctor.” The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. He is my secret.”
“What I did, I did without choice…”
“…In the name of peace and sanity.”
“But not in the name of the Doctor!”
So who is John Hurt’s Doctor? As the Doctor said in his usual cryptic way, “I said he was me, I never said he was the Doctor”
So far I’m guessing John Hurt’s incarnation of the Doctor is between the Eight Doctor Paul McGann and Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston. Eccleston’s angry and bitter post-Time War Doctor. In the years between the Eighth and Ninth Doctor the Time War was waged and Gallifrey fell. The Doctor was the only (well almost) survivor, the last of his race, roaming space and time on his own. So far he hasn’t told us the full story. In Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS we saw Clara discover the great tome, The History of the Time War, in the TARDIS’s library. We can only hope we’ll learn some of its secrets.
The 50th Anniversary will be broadcast in the UK on the 23rd of November 2013.