John Hurt’s Doctor Who Role Could Be Bigger Than We Thought

By David Wharton | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

Doctor Who nabbed a major get for the upcoming 50th anniversary episode, casting the ridiculously talented John Hurt for a spoiler-rific role that we won’t mention up here, just in case anybody reading is still catching up on season eight. But even though the cat is out of the bag regarding the nature of his role, a recent tweet suggests his involvement in the show might be a bit bigger than we thought. If you want to know more, scroll on down.

To avoid spoilers, stay north of the Sad Doctor!


Now then, the season finale “The Name of the Doctor” confirmed the rumors that had been flying around for a while: that John Hurt would be playing the Doctor. That seems to mean he was a “secret” incarnation of the Time Lord that regenerated from Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor and into Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth (or now presumably Tenth). This would be the Doctor who fought in the legendary Time War we’ve heard so much about, and which seemed to have deeply traumatized Eccleston’s Doctor. In the season finale Matt Smith described him as “the one who broke the promise,” who did something so terrible that the other incarnations of the Doctor who have followed have never spoken of him. It’s the perfect sort of twist and stunt casting that a 50th anniversary celebration demands, and the prospect of Matt Smith’s Eleven and David Tennant’s Ten uniting to take down their own disreputable earlier self is promising indeed. (It would have been even cooler if we got to see him defeated and then regenerating into Eccleston, but the actor has long since turned down any involvement in the special.)

But a tweet from John Hurt’s account in the aftermath of the Peter Capaldi announcement hints that perhaps Hurt might be around for more than just the anniversary episode. Here’s a screencap of the tweet, via Doctor Who TV:


And here’s what it was replaced with:

Now it’s entirely possible that the first tweet was replaced simply because Hurt — or whoever handles his twitter account for him — noticed the typos. But the original tweet also seems to be saying something the second doesn’t. Taking into account the typos, it seems to be saying “I’m sure we will both have a lot of fun” or something like that. Again, it could just be a simple case of autocorrect run wild, but it certainly would be interesting if Hurt’s secret Doctor were to put in another appearance, say in the Christmas special, and face off against Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth (or Thirteenth) Doctor as well.

What are you up to, old man?

Hurt denies knowing anything about it, however. When someone asked Hurt about it on twitter, Hurt replied thusly:

You’d think if it was a simple case of fixing a type, Hurt would just say that outright. And his ignorance could be a simple case of Hurt sometimes doing his own tweeting and other times leaving it to an assistant or whatever. But the flat-out denial of knowing anything about it, when it came from his own twitter feed, is odd at the very least.

Meanwhile, here’s another interesting tidbit. Below is a panel from Paul Cornell’s upcoming one-off Doctor Who comic The Girl Who Loved the Doctor. We see what Cornell says is an Andy Warhol painting featuring all the Doctor’s incarnations…with a shadowy stranger occupying the slot between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston. If it floats like a Dalek and screams like a Dalek…