Doctor Who's centenary special might have marked Jodie Whittaker's departure from the BBC sci-fi series, but she wasn't the only Doctor to make an appearance.


Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann all made surprise cameos in The Power of the Doctor, alongside David Bradley (reprising the role of the First Doctor, as originally played by the late William Hartnell).

The feature-length episode saw the Doctor (Whittaker) forced to regenerate by her nemesis the Master (Sacha Dhawan), who hijacked the process to take over the Doctor's body himself. However, our hero's consciousness survived, emerging into a desert landscape where she discovered a figure dressed in ornate robes...

"Well, you’re obviously one of the more determined of us," the First Doctor tells Thirteen. "You refuse to pass through – quite the strength of character, this incarnation."

David Bradley as the First Doctor.

In turn, the figure takes on the form of Doctors no. six (Baker), five (Davison), eight (McGann) and seven (McCoy) as it's explained that these past incarnations still exist as "vestiges of [the Doctor's] consciousness".

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“This is the place you pass through during the process of regeneration," the Fifth Doctor explains of the mysterious mindscape. "Go past here, there’s no way back.”

"That’s why we’re here," the Eighth Doctor adds. "To stop you moving any further through. You are not finished."

(The Eighth Doctor is also the only incarnation to wear a familiar costume in this sequence, with his outfit resembling the one McGann sported when he last returned to the role, in 2013 mini-episode The Night of the Doctor. "I don't do robes," he insists.)

"This is why you manifested here – to remind me, there’s always a way!" says the Thirteenth Doctor, buoyed by the intervention of her past selves – the "Guardians of the Edge" – to find a route back to existence to thwart the Master's insidious plot.

Speaking about the top-secret scene at a press screening for The Power of the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker said: "The scene for me where I get to meet other iterations was such an emotional day, such a wonderful day. And it was like being at the ultimate Comic-Con!"

Doctor Who showrunner and the episode's writer Chris Chibnall added: "To see Colin back on the set of Doctor Who was an incredible thing. He called [Jodie] the boss. And to see Sophie [Aldred, who plays Ace] and Sylvester back on the set."

Of the surviving actors to have played the Doctor in the series' original run, only Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) was absent from the special, while none of the show's leading men from 2005 onwards – Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi – were featured either.

Explaining the reasoning behind which faces were featured, Chibnall said: "I wanted it to be classic Doctors and, you know, there's not a huge amount of those.

"I also didn't want to tread on anything that might be happening in future, so those ones felt the right ones. To be honest, it was just a bit of an instinct. So those are the ones – we asked them and they said yes."

Doctor Who – David Tennant and Peter Davison in Time Crash
David Tennant and Peter Davison in 2007's Doctor Who mini-episode Time Crash. BBC

Besides the sequence set at the Edge of Existence, two of the classic Doctors – Davison and McCoy – also resurface later in the episode. This time wearing their classic costumes, they appear as manifestations of a TARDIS hologram for touching reunions with their respective companions, Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Ace (Sophie Aldred).

The Power of the Doctor marks Peter Davison's first appearance in an official (and canonical) Doctor Who story since 2007's Time Crash, with McGann appearing for the first time in nine years and making only his third ever on-screen outing as the Eighth Doctor.

McCoy last appeared in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, while Baker's absence has been the longest, with the actor last appearing in the television series as the Sixth Doctor in 1986, 36 years ago.

Bradley, meanwhile, first played William Hartnell himself in the 2013 docu-drama An Adventure in Space and Time, before going on to take on the mantle of the First Doctor in 2017 episode Twice Upon a Time.

Now, what price a Guardians of the Edge spin-off from Big Finish?

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