Doctor Who: Steven Moffat clears up confusion around the number of John Hurt’s Doctor

SPOILERS: Does 'The War Doctor' alter the numbering of the Time Lord's incarnations? Not so, says the Doctor Who showrunner

When John Hurt was introduced as ‘the Doctor’ earlier this year, it left fans asking not only ‘Doctor who?’, but also ‘Doctor when’? For what, exactly, did this new incarnation mean for the chronology of the Time Lord? Which number Doctor is he?


Now, showrunner Steven Moffat has cleared it up – insisting that Hurt does not alter the order of the Doctors.

“I’ve been really, really quite careful about the numbering of the Doctors,” he said. “He’s very specific, the John Hurt Doctor, that he doesn’t take the name of the Doctor. He doesn’t call himself that. He’s the same Time Lord, the same being as the Doctors either side of him, but he’s the one who says, ‘I’m not the Doctor.’ So the Eleventh Doctor is still the Eleventh Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is still the Tenth…”

As seen in yesterday’s mini-episode The Night of the Doctor, John Hurt’s ‘The War Doctor’ is first glimpsed after regenerating from Paul McGann’s eighth – putting him between McGann and the ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. Writing in this week’s Doctor Who Magazine, Moffat went on to clarify further.

“Technically, if you really counted it, the David Tennant Doctor is two Doctors, on account of the Meta-Crisis Doctor [in Journey’s End]… It’s not a matter of counting the regenerations, but of counting the faces of the Time Lord that calls himself the Doctor.

“There’s an anomaly Doctor slotted in somewhere, that’s all. In the script to The Day of the Doctor, Matt’s Doctor was called the Eleventh, and David’s was called the Tenth, so the numbering stays exactly the same – and we call Peter Capaldi the Twelfth Doctor.”

So, that’s that – apparently. To find out more about John Hurt’s mysterious anomaly of a Doctor, watch The Day Of The Doctor on 23 November. And in the meantime watch the prequel that introduces him…