John Hurt as The Doctor - Doctor Who - The Name of the Doctor (c) BBC
John Hurt as The Doctor – Doctor Who – The Name of the Doctor (c) BBC

The Name of the Doctor

First Broadcast May 18th, 2013 @ 7.00pm (7.45m viewers)

This episode brings to a conclusion the seventh series of Doctor Who, or if you prefer, Season 33. It would provide a return of the Great Intelligence, personified by a malevolent Richard E Grant, the first and so far only appearance of the peculiar Whispermen and conclude the story arc centred around companion Clara Oswin Oswald. As a climax viewers were also shocked to see screen legend Sir John Hurt appear as ‘The Doctor’, sending fandom and internet forums into meltdown.

Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

Big Finish - Only The Monstrous
Big Finish – Only The Monstrous

All would be revealed later in the year as Doctor Who celebrated it’s 50th anniversary and we’d step back in time to learn about the previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor during the Time War. However at the time, all the information presented was that THE John Hurt was the Doctor. Talk about shocking! To Sci-Fi fans, they are unlikely to forget him as Kane in the original Alien film. His portrayal of John Merrick in ‘The Elephant Man’ got him his second career Oscar nomination. For younger fans he is Mr. Ollivander in the Harry Potter universe. With such an incredible catalogue of work over such a long period of time, being able to cast an actor of that calibre in a pokey family science fiction series for BBC One, and as the lead character, was an incredible achievement. One of the great joys is that John Hurt has been wonderful enough to revisit the role for Big Finish, giving the War Doctor a legitimacy far beyond a simple cameo.

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) - Doctor Who - The Name of the Doctor (c) BBC
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) – Doctor Who – The Name of the Doctor (c) BBC

The rest of the story is a bit flat but made more enjoyable by the shots of Clara encountering other Doctors, incredibly well done, and the likeable collection of characters brought together for this series’ swan song. Alex Kingston’s emotional farewell to Matt Smith’s Doctor highlights his imminent departure from the show and it is touching to see their relationship receive a proper onscreen send off. Vastra, Jenny and Strax also provide good value with the Sontaran’s comedic talents lifting the otherwise mournful tone of the story. Huge credit also to Matt Smith who surprises viewers with a crushing scene of desperation when informed that his grave has been discovered, an excellent idea of a Time Traveller finding his own resting place, but sadly the major concept featured in the story is not as successful.

Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) - Doctor Who - The Name of the Doctor (c) BBC
Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) – Doctor Who – The Name of the Doctor (c) BBC

The ‘Impossible Girl’ story arc. Oh dear. Whilst the idea of Clara being splintered throughout time, resulting in her appearance on the Dalek asylum, in Victorian London and the modern day is reasonable enough, her saving the Doctor over and over again is ludicrous. On first viewing it is difficult not to be overawed by Jenna Coleman interacting (sort of) with William Hartnell. But when exposed to more thoughtful consideration, Clara’s presence throughout the Doctor’s time stream, to save him on every occasion, eliminates any peril which the character has or ever will get into, a disaster for a continuing drama. The Hartnell scene would be repeated in ‘Listen’ as both install Clara as a major contributor to his journeys, despite her character not warranting such elevation, given her generic lack of individualism or uniqueness.

However, ‘The Name of the Doctor’ was merely an appetiser for the feast of Doctor Who which would come later in 2013 and serves as a triumphant but tantalising prelude to the biggest celebration in the programme’s history.


The Doctor – Matt Smith
Clara – Jenna Coleman
River Song – Alex Kingston
Dr. Simeon – Richard E Grant
Vastra – Neve McIntosh
Jenny – Catrin Stewart
Strax – Dan Starkey
Angie – Eve de Leon Allen
Artie – Kassius Carey Johnson
Andro – Nasi Voutsas
Fabian – David Avery
Clarence – Michael Jenn
Archie – Rab Affleck
Messenger Boy – Samuel Irvine
Young Clara – Sophie Downham
Whisper Man – Paul Kasey


Writer Steven Moffat
Producer – Marcus Wilson
Director – Saul Metzstein

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • The Wheel in Space : Episode 4
  • Planet of the Spiders : Part Three


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