John Hurt’s Doctor Who anniversary performance steals scenes with just a look, says Steven Moffat

While Matt Smith and David Tennant compete frenetically in the 50th anniversary special, Hurt's dark Doctor communicates with just his eyes, says the showrunner


John Hurt gives a scene-stealing performance in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, says Steven Moffat – sometimes without even opening his mouth.


While tenth and eleventh Doctors David Tennant and Matt Smith bring their usual frenetic energy to the roles, the veteran actor’s dark and mysterious new incarnation is more subtle, suggests the Doctor Who showrunner…

“It was great fun,” said Moffat. “You’d have David and Matt, they’d be leaping around the set and doing every form of physical comedy with each other – and, you know, slightly competing about who could be slightly more insane than the other – and then John Hurt would come along and do this [tiny movement] with his eyes and you go ‘That’s it – he’s got the scene now hasn’t he?'” 

Hurt’s previously unseen Doctor was briefly introduced at the end of the season seven finale in May and will join Smith and Tennant for the special episode.

Moffat described the 73-year-old actor as “delightfully grumpy” and “lovely” to work with.

“John was delightful – delightfully grumpy in every single way,” said Moffat. “During our last meal [while filming] he got grumpy about the fact that he liked the wine!

“He’s not actually grumpy,” he added, “he’s actually a really, really lovely man.”

Anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor will see the three Doctors piloting the Tardis together in a story that is rumoured to involve the legendary Time Wars but will certainly feature the Time Lord’s deadliest foes the Daleks, as well as one-hit wonders the Zygons.

The adventure airs on BBC1, and around the world, on Saturday 23 November, 50 years to the day after the first ever episode was originally broadcast.