John Hurt’s Doctor Is No Newbie Time Lord

DOCTOR WHO Executive Producer/Lead Writer Steven Moffat is opening the vault of secrets about the 50th anniversary story a little more as ‘The Day of the Doctor” creeps ever closer…

Moffat recently addressed John Hurt‘s incarnation of the Doctor — from his persona to his apparent age to his multilayered costume — with SFX:

“I always think that the clown and hero are different levels in the Doctor — there is no completely straight Doctor. The folk memory of [William] Hartnell is he’s a cranky old man, but when you watch him he plays the Doctor as a stroppy child; very twinkly. And he’s not crotchety, he’s sulky, the way that an infant would be. Ian and Barbara are sort of his parents, indulging him to go and behave himself a bit better. The Doctors are always like that. He’s either an extraordinarily youthful old man or an extraordinarily old young man. He’s always both.

“What’s exciting about seeing John Hurt as the Doctor is it’s the first time in a long time we’ve seen the Doctor in his 70s. He really is the grizzled older man, and that was automatically and instantly exciting. And you sort of believe it. You’re always nervous about all these things. You do think, given that we’ve portrayed him in this youthful kind of way for a while, ‘Is it still going to fly?’ But it does. You have no issue with it at all.

DotD6“Looking at [his costume], it didn’t occur to me as a patchwork of previous Doctors at all. It’s a rougher, tougher Doctor. It looks like somehow he’s been through it a bit. We are saying, ‘This isn’t a Doctor who’s just appeared, he’s been around, he’s been in this form for a while.’ So one of the [costume] notes was make it look as though he’s been knocking around in this incarnation for a bit.”

“[Hurt] asked if he could keep his beard, and I looked at it and I thought, actually, he looks quite good with it. And it’s another indicator that he’s not a fresh-born Doctor. We didn’t want to imply that he’d just been around for a little while. There’s a whole lot of stuff you missed! It’s a nice thing to be able to say in the show, and for no one to be able to contradict you, that there were years that you didn’t know about… We lied and lied; there’s a whole big old chapter you didn’t know.”

“The Day of the Doctor” is Nov. 23, all around the world.

2 thoughts on “John Hurt’s Doctor Is No Newbie Time Lord

  1. It’s funny but to me Hurt’s Doctor looks a bit like if Nine had stuck around for a while and gotten a bit older and dodgy and let himself go a bit. Like a scruffy beat up U-Boat captain.


    • Which is an interesting observation in light of Steven Moffat asking John Hurt to join the production after Christopher Eccleston declined to return. I can’t help but assume that the Hurt Doctor was invented to do the work of the Ninth Doctor, even if that doesn’t really track with what (we think) we know about 9, which is that he was relatively new when met Rose. The conventional fan wisdom is that the Eighth Doctor ended the Time War and regenerated in the process. But… I guess we wait and see.


Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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