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The War Doctor & Election 2016 Part one Moffat’s Dilemma

May 29th, 2015 | No Comments

One of the real high points of the Excellent 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor was the performance of veteran actor John Hurt playing the previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor known as the War Doctor. The excellent story combined with him memorable performance captivated fans.

The Introduction of an extra doctor was more than a plot device, it was necessary to cut the two gordian knots that writer Steven Moffat found himself in.

The first was this:  Doctor Who anniversary stories historically involve multiple doctors, so the 50th anniversary story naturally needed to do the same, but the question became which doctors, besides the obvious choice of David Tennant (Doctor 10) to join the then current 11th incarnation Matt Smith?  Only two doctors would be quite a letdown to the fans the inclusion of Hurt’s War Doctor gave the a third.  Enough to make it interesting but not so many as to make it unwieldy.

But that problem was small compared to the big issue Moffat had.

The entire driver of the new series was the idea that the Doctor, the man of peace had chosen to fight in the Time War and ended it by destroying not only the Daleks but Billions of his own people to save the universe from them both. This is completely atypical Doctor behavior and was the big mystery and unresolved plot from the series. As Moffat described it:

in The End of Time, where the Doctor reveals the Time Lords got as bad as the Daleks towards the end, and he was as worried by them as anything else. And we know the Doctor wiped out his own people. He wouldn’t do so unless things had got pretty bad. Genocide is a big decision for anyone!

Since most of the Doctor’s history is known there were only possible choices for this disagreeable task. the first would be would be Doctor Number 8 (Paul McGann) from the movie whose finish had never seen, Moffat decided this this wouldn’t fit with McGann’s Doctor’s character however Moffat again

The Eighth Doctor is perhaps the first of the sexy, romantic Doctors. I don’t mean he’s the first sexy Doctor – he’s not. But he’s the first one who kisses a lady, for example. He’s obviously dashing, terribly handsome and quite romantic. I always found it hard to imagine him fighting in the Time War. I’d always imagined the ‘Time War Doctor’ would be more grizzled, somehow, you know?

That leaves the 9th doctor the first from the new series Christopher Eccleston and that presented two problems the largest being a practical consideration Eccleston’s unwillingness to do the show:

“Yes, but I was pretty certain Chris wouldn’t do it, although he did agree to a couple of meetings.

Showing up would of course be a sine non qua for his use but there was another consideration that would have been an issue even if he did show up, the narrative:

Asked if it would have been Eccleston ending the Time War instead: “Yes, but do you know, I was always nervous of that one, because it doesn’t fit with [2005’s] Rose at all.

“[Eccleston] is a brand new Doctor in Rose, he’s absolutely, definitely new. It couldn’t have been is who pushed the button in the Time War, cos that’s a new man, very explicitly, in that episode.

Thus the War Doctor and John Hurt’s appearance

“So all of this led me to the idea that if you’re going to sell to the Not-We audience a Doctor who essentially they haven’t seen before, then you have a freer hand than saying it has to be one of the ones you’ve already had

Bottom line, the narrative didn’t work with the characters he had, so he simply created a new character that it did work for and as I’ve already said in these pages, the result was spectacular.

Moreover even with the new grizzled War Doctor willing to end it all, they managed to solve the problem of the Doctor as a mass murder

And that’s one of the great things about fiction as opposed to reality, if you don’t like the plot or the characters you can change them.

But this possibility doesn’t exist for everyone….


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