What do we know?
For an episode of a television show to be shrouded in secrecy is nothing out of the ordinary. For The Day of the Doctor it seemed for a long time that if you weren’t either in it or worked on it, you had absolutely no clue whatsoever as to what BBC Wales were planning for us. Everything we did find out, was only because we needed to know. As early as March this year the world collectively squealed upon learning that the Tenth Doctor himself, a certain Mr. David Tennant, would be returning to the TARDIS for the episode. Of course, this would have been preferable to be kept a secret like so much other information, ergo, they have been shooting in outdoor public areas, so the BBC announced the news before Twitter did.
It’s enormously exciting to have David Tennant return to Doctor Who, it’s perhaps more exciting that arguably his most popular companion and all round DW heroine Billie Piper would be joining him to play Rose Tyler once again. The recent trailer showcased a Rose disheveled in rags, wearing a wedding ring. Either something currently unexplained happened to Rose between now and the last time we saw her in series 4 finale Journey’s End or, she’s not playing Rose Tyler at all. At a stretch, she is a Rose we have never seen before. Her new persona seems much darker than we have come to expect from the blonde with the smile, but hey, that’s what trailers are all about. Quite rightly, we won’t know until we tune in on November 23rd who this mysterious incarnation is (cough, Bad Wolf – but, that’s just me).
Talking of mysterious incarnations, the Doctor himself has a new/old version of himself come to haunt him in the 50th. From the fantastic mini-episode The Night of the Doctor, along with the stunning reveal at the end of the last series, none other than John Hurt is on board as the War Doctor. This is the version of the 1100-year old Timelord who fought in the great Time War between the Timelords on the Daleks, something we’ve heard being referred to countless times but have never seen being played out on screen. It looks like The Day of the Doctor is going to change that, in dramatic fashion.
So what have we learned about the War Doctor? We know he’s an incarnation of the Doctor who is not spoken of by future Doctors. We see the creation of the War Doctor in The Night of the Doctor, where the fantastic Eighth Doctor Paul McGann drops the ‘Doctor’ title and regenerates into the War Doctor. We know that John Hurt’s Doctor is most definitely not the actual Ninth Doctor, pushing up Christopher Eccleston to the Tenth, Tennant to the Eleventh, current Doctor Matt Smith to the Twelfth, could you imagine the merchandise rebranding? Exactly.
Instead, the War Doctor is not considered part of the Timelords’ history. Except he is. But he isn’t. It’s wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey. We can’t say whether or not we’ll ever really know, but as fans we can but hope that showrunner and professional deceitful liar Steven Moffat has a masterplan which works. John Hurts inclusion in the special is a terrific anchor to ship the intentions of Doctor Who with this episode. The episode has to be enormous, and one of the UK’s greatest leading actors playing a part is a signal fire to those who doubted the BBC’s commitment to the anniversary.
We also know of course that the Impossible Girl, Clara Oswald will be involved, played by the fabulous Jenna Coleman. Now that we know more about her history with the Doctor and who she really is, it will be fascinating to see their relationship now, along with how on earth they got out of being within the Doctors’ timeline at the end of The Name of the Doctor. Her shock of seeing John Hurt will be a great step-off point for whatever the relationship will be between Clara and War Doctor. Also returning is Kate-Lethbridge Stewart, played by Jemma Redgrave and last seen in The Power of Three, bringing along UNIT for reasons we’re still not aware of. If the trailer and the promotional pictures are anything to go by, her inclusion is rather prominent, although it remains to be seen how big a role she will actually play.
What about the monsters? We can’t have a Doctor Who episode without some fantastic enemy the Doctor has to take down. For the 50th anniversary the enemies that we currently are aware of – are the Daleks (who get trounced in the trailer, further pointing to the inclusion of footage of the Time War) and the Zygons, the fantastically designed shape-shifting aliens making their first appearance in Doctor Who since its revival and first seen in 1975 in Terror of the Zygons. It’s a terrific nod to the past that they are included, and it’s exciting to see just how they will be involved.
Effectively, The Day of the Doctor looks to be be a fantastic celebration of the last fifty years of Doctor Who. While not everything can be included that the fans demand – some seem to forget the three of the Doctors have died – you can rest assured that the 50th will be a Who party like no other. At the same time Steven Moffat has repeatedly stated that whilst the 50th is a celebration of the past, it’s also a definite point into the future of the series, ensuring its longevity for years to come.
The phrase ‘the narrative of Doctor Who will be forever changed’ is something that’s being heard an awful lot, so we can deduce that there is a moment in the special which forces the Doctor to change something we’ve known for so long about him. The story itself is still a cloud of mystery but we do know that the National Gallery plays a major part within the modern story, alongside Elizabethan England (with Joanna Page playing Elizabeth I) and what will most likely turn out to be the Time War.
Something we most definitely know, it’s only days away. And well, it’s going to be fantastic.
Allons-y! Geronimo! (Delete as appropriate).
Where can we see The Day of the Doctor?
The Day of the Doctor will be televised on BBC One and BBC One HD on Saturday 23rd November at 7:50pm in the UK. The episode is getting an incredibly ambitious simultaneous broadcast across 75 countries including the UK, the US, Australia, Latin America, Africa, Canada and many more. The special will also be shown at the very same time in cinemas across America and Europe in 3D.