Once More Unto the Breach – The War Doctor Returns

A secret incarnation of the Doctor forgotten after the horrors of the Time War, the era of the ‘War Doctor,’ as he became known, is still a mysterious chapter in Doctor Who’s long history.

Played by Sir John Hurt, CBE, the War Doctor was invented by Steven Moffat after he was unable to obtain the services of Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. This left a new avenue open to the program that seemed contrived in the lead-in story ‘Name of the Doctor,’ but blossomed into one of the most unexpected and fantastic casting moments. A knight became a Doctor!


This scraggly angry incarnation of the Time Lord was forged in the fires of war, a persona chosen by the Doctor’s eighth incarnation as he lay dying on the planet Karn during the Time War. Stricken from the Doctor’s personal history, he redeemed himself in the 50th anniversary episode when he teamed up with twelve other incarnations to end the Time War and save his home world of Gallifrey rather than destroy it. He of course quickly forgot this cooperative encounter before transforming into the grief-stricken and traumatized Ninth Doctor.

Yes, one of the greatest incarnations of the Doctor is without a number and is known only as ‘The War Doctor.’

Glimpses of the War Doctor have been seen since he was last on screen (such as the flashback in ‘Listen’) but he has not enjoyed any further adventures… until now.

Thanks to Big Finish, fans will be getting more of the John Hurt in the TARDIS with a special audio adventure box set and a preview was just revealed.

Via The Radio Times:

doctor-who-day-of-the-doctor-john-hurtExactly two years after John Hurt stole the Doctor Who 50th anniversary show, we have the very first clip of his return as the War Doctor.
Hurt is coming back to Who for a series of 12 all-new episodes from audio drama producers Big Finish. The first box set, Only the Monstrous, is set to be released this December.

This exclusive clip comes from the first episode of the new run, titled The Innocent, which finds the War Doctor in the midst of the Time War, before the events of 50th anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.

“I’ve seen too much of this war already,” Hurt’s weary voice says in the clip – although by the sound of it, he has plenty of tricks (OK, explosives) up his sleeve to help him in the Time Lords’ battle against the Daleks.

And for all the fighting, the War Doctor clearly still has a touch of humanity, saving two “patsies” from approaching Daleks.

Hurt’s character has not been seen since the episode marking the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, where the War Doctor (or ‘Captain Grumpy’, whichever you prefer), appeared alongside Matt Smith and David Tennant’s Doctors.

The new audio dramas are written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, who says he couldn’t wait to explore Who’s 50th anniversary back story in more detail.

“The story of the Doctor who refuses to call himself the Doctor in order to do the unthinkable upon the ultimate battlefield — all of space and time — was irresistible to me,” he said.

“Such a deeply disturbing and engaging character created by the formidable talents of writer Steven Moffat and actor John Hurt. It’s such a privilege to be working on this.”

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