|The Night of the Doctor|
|Premiere broadcast:||14 November 2013|
|Premiere network:||BBC Red Button|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|The Name of the Doctor||The Last Day|
|The Day of the Doctor||The Last Day|
|Behind the scenes video|
The Night of the Doctor was a mini-episode released just prior to the 50th anniversary special. It starred Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, in his first on-screen appearance since the 1996 TV movie. It also featured his regeneration — meaning that McGann has uniquely appeared on television only in regeneration stories. As of November 2013[update], it is the only BBC Wales production that stars the Doctor, but never shows even a glimpse of the current incarnation. It instead showed the origin of a retroactively introduced incarnation from a moment in the Doctor's past, the War Doctor, portrayed by John Hurt.
Initially made available on the BBC iPlayer and YouTube channel on 14 November 2013, The Night of the Doctor was subsequently made available to UK viewers on the BBC Red Button, from Saturday 16 November. It was meant to be released days later, but was released early to avoid an impending leak. Since it was recorded alongside the last two days of production on the anniversary special, it shared the production block with The Day of the Doctor.
Still trying to skirt around the edges of the Last Great Time War, the Eighth Doctor is forced to fully join the conflict by the mysterious Sisterhood of Karn. Killed while trying to save a woman who hates him for simply being a Time Lord, the Doctor gets to choose what his next incarnation will be like. He arranges for a warrior... but makes the darkest sacrifice of his life in order to be reborn.
Cass is piloting a damaged spaceship on the verge of crashing. The ship's computer offers to call for a "doctor" upon being asked for support, to which Cass responds that she doesn't need one because she's not injured. Meanwhile, the Doctor's TARDIS is seen catching up to her ship. Inside, Cass continues to tell the ship that she is trying to send a distress call, and doesn't need a doctor. The Eighth Doctor suddenly appears behind her, stating that he is a doctor, but probably not the one she was expecting.
When the Doctor notices that the ship's crew is missing and wonders why Cass is still aboard, she explains that she teleported the crew off the ship and stayed behind. The Doctor then welcomes her aboard, and takes her hand as he leads her to the TARDIS. As he is trying to open the doors to the room where the TARDIS is parked, Cass says she joined the crew to see the universe, and wonders if it is always like this. He jokes that it is if she's lucky. He finally opens the doors with his sonic screwdriver, revealing the TARDIS, and reassuring Cass that it's bigger on the inside. Cass is horrified, correctly identifying the police box to be a TARDIS. She realises that the Doctor is a Time Lord, a species taking part in the Time War. The Doctor counters that he hasn't participated in the conflict, but this fails to assuage Cass. When he points out that at least he's not a Dalek, she replies that one can hardly tell the difference anymore, and promptly locks herself on the other side of the door. Although the Doctor states that he won't leave the ship without her, Cass replies that she doesn't mind; she would rather die than travel with a Time Lord.
The ship crashes on the planet Karn, where the Sisterhood of Karn have been expecting the Doctor. Finding his dead body in the wreckage, they are able to revive him, albeit briefly. As he regains consciousness, the woman named Ohila tells him he has four minutes to live, and that her cult has several potions which can trigger a Time Lord's regeneration process. The Doctor soon comes to recognise them as the Sisterhood of Karn. Ohila confirms, claiming that Time Lord science is "elevated" on Karn, and the various potions will allow him to determine the nature of his next incarnation.
When asked why the Sisterhood is helping him, Ohila replies that he is the only hope to stop the Time War, which threatens all of reality. The Doctor still resists the idea of fighting. Responding to this, she says that since he is a doctor, he should attend his patient... Members of the Sisterhood promptly bring in Cass, who is beyond even the Sisterhood's healing powers. When the Doctor grieves that she wanted to see the universe, Ohila claims that she didn't miss much. She tells him that he is part of the Time War already, "like it or not." He says he would rather die than join the Time War, prompting Ohila to remind him that he is already dead. She asks "how many more" will he let die.
Succumbing to their persuasion, the Doctor declares that the Universe doesn't need a Doctor anymore. He removes a bandolier from Cass' body and tells them "Make me a warrior now." Ohila offers one of the drinks which she developed herself. The Doctor takes it, and yells at the Sisterhood to get out. As they leave, he asks if it will hurt. Ohila simply replies "Yes", the answer the Doctor wanted. He salutes his eighth incarnation's companions and friends, and apologises to Cass. He drinks the potion, and begins to regenerate. After the light of the regeneration fades, Ohila returns to see if it has worked. The new man gets to his feet and buckles on Cass' bandolier, as if girding himself for battle.
As the words "Doctor no more" are uttered from his hardy voice, the man walks over to a wall that casts a reflection. The face looking back at him is a younger version of the man the Eleventh Doctor and Clara Oswald encountered in the Doctor's time stream on Trenzalore...
- Writer - Steven Moffat
- Director - John Hayes
- Producer - Denise Paul
- Costume Designer - Howard Burden (uncredited)
- The Eighth Doctor's last words, "Physician, heal thyself", quote the proverb found in Luke 4:23 of the Bible.
- The Eighth Doctor mocks his imminent death in four minutes, stating he might get bored waiting and need a television, books, chess, and knitting.
Story notes Edit
- The opening credits give only the name of the episode, and the name of the actor playing the Doctor, and omit the series name.
- The Eighth Doctor's costume here, designed by Howard Burden, is unique and is based on the Doctor's costume from the TV movie. There's no reason to believe that Burden did anything other than simply re-design the costume entirely from his own sketchpad. Nevertheless, the costume is highly reminiscent of the character's appearances in Doctor Who Magazine comics, where his costume was slightly different almost every story. Perhaps the closest matches are found in Doctor Who and the Nightmare Game, where the combination of coat and open-necked light shirt are prominent, and Uroboros, with its vest, tan pants and open-collared light shirt. Although the leather riding boots are an apparent innovation of this short, they, too, have precedent in the pages of DWM: Bad Blood had him in the Wild West wearing quite similar boots. The costume is notably dissimilar to that seen on the covers of Big Finish's Dark Eyes series, although it doesn't obviously contradict the brief description of that costume given within the narrative of the audio.
- The Doctor mentions his companions Charley, C'rizz, Lucie, Tamsin and Molly, all from Big Finish audio productions. It was the first time that the television series directly referenced Big Finish characters.
- The BBC initially promoted this episode with the teaser that the audience would be shown either the Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor, or the new unspecified incarnation. While this was indeed true, as it did feature the unspecified incarnation, it was a red herring to hide the surprise return of Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, and to lead into the secondary reveal of the "John Hurt Doctor", called "the War Doctor" by the credits.
- The only time the face of John Hurt's Doctor is shown is in the form of a reflection using archive footage of a younger John Hurt from a horror movie called the Ghoul.
- This story introduces the idea that the Time Lords had become collectively hated during the Time War by the individuals who had suffered from their actions. The Doctor's conflict with his own people over the issue is also made apparent.
- The phrase "no more" appeared in the 50th anniversary #SaveTheDay trailer, scrawled onto a girder. The meaning of the phrase was obscure prior to the release of this short, which gave some context for the words in its closing seconds. However, the true meaning of the words was explained in the 50th Anniversary special itself.
- Paul McGann's reprisal of the role of the Eighth Doctor, 17 years after his debut, parallels a visibly older Sylvester McCoy's exit from the series as the Seventh Doctor to hand over the role to McGann himself. McCoy reappeared for one final outing as the Seventh Doctor in the 1996 TV Movie, after his last on-screen adventure in 1989.
- By depicting the regeneration of the Eighth Doctor into the War Doctor, The Night of the Doctor abolishes the long-speculated idea that the Eighth Doctor eventually fought in the Time War and would regenerate into the Ninth Doctor portrayed by Christopher Eccleston. It was made possible, in part, by the fact that Russell T Davies and the BBC refused Doctor Who Magazine's request to depict the regeneration from the Eighth Doctor to the Ninth Doctor at the conclusion of The Flood.
Production errors Edit
- The St John's Ambulance logo is visible on the SFX shot of the TARDIS as it chases after Cass' ship, but isn't there when the practical TARDIS prop is seen.
- The presence of the logo is itself an error as the Eighth Doctor's TARDIS did not bear the symbol.
- The Eighth Doctor's last visit to Karn was in AUDIO: The Vengeance of Morbius.
- Since making his decision about the war in PROSE: Museum Peace, the Doctor has decided not to fight but help out where he can.
- The Eleventh Doctor also stated that he would be unable to call himself "Doctor" if he killed a Star whale. (TV: The Beast Below)
- The Sisterhood of Karn last appeared onscreen in the Fourth Doctor story TV: The Brain of Morbius. At that time, they also used the Elixir of Life to heal the Doctor, and were also in the habit of causing ships too close to Karn to crash.
- Cass' bandolier is seen as an obvious armament of the War Doctor's attire in both The Name and The Day of the Doctor.
- Shortly after regeneration, the Eighth Doctor took a Wild Bill Hickok costume for a New Year's Day party from a staff locker in Walker General Hospital. As he began to dress himself, he explicitly left the gun belt in the locker because he did not like to carry firearms. Here, he does the exact opposite when he claims Cass's bandolier as part of his outfit following his regeneration into the War Doctor. (TV: Doctor Who)
- The Second Doctor was also presented with potential options for his new incarnation prior to his forced regeneration. Like the Eighth, he rejected the options presented to him. (TV: The War Games) However unlike his prior self, the Eighth did eventually make a choice, albeit one that had not been offered at that point, while the Time Lords simply imposed a form upon the Second.
- Ohila reiterates that the process of regeneration is usually random. (TV: The Parting of the Ways, The Day of the Doctor)
Home Release Edit
The Night of the Doctor was also included on both the DVD and Blu-ray releases of The Day of the Doctor.
- ↑ Paul McGann: we were forced to release The Night of the Doctor early. Radio Times. Radio Times (18 November 2013). Retrieved on 5 November 2013.
- ↑ Stephen Moffat on The Night of the Doctor. BBC Doctor Who website (14 November 2013). Retrieved on 15 November 2013.