The Night of the Doctor

Released November 14th, 2013

The build up for the 50th Anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor’ was an exciting time. Actors made TV appearances and there were a number of special programme’s from ‘The Culture Show’ and ‘Blue Peter’ for instance. Plus of course, ‘Adventures in Space and Time’ and ‘The Five-ish Doctors Reboot’. However ‘The Night of the Doctor’ stole the show. Released onto the official website and YouTube three years ago today, viewers expected a prequel to the upcoming special. The TARDISodes and ‘Pond Life’ which had gone before added context to an upcoming story. These seven minutes provided far, far more than just context.

Paul McGann - Doctor Who - The Night of the Doctor (c) BBC
Paul McGann – Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor (c) BBC
Memorable Moment (Spoiler Warning)

I’m a doctor, But probably not the one you were expecting

For those of us fortunate enough to watch ‘The Night of the Doctor’ spoiler-free, were left in a speechless delirium of delight by the revelation that instead of Matt Smith’s current incarnation, the Time Lord featured was in fact, Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor. McGann had only appeared onscreen once, way back in 1996, with other inclusions coming from flashback footage. When added to the BBC red button service this chalked up a second TV appearance for the Eighth Doctor. For fans of his incarnation the fact that McGann reprised his role in front of a TV camera was the pinnacle of excitement. Above that however, it added the context required for another incarnation, John Hurt’s War Doctor.

Doctor Who - The Night of the Doctor (c) BBC
Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor (c) BBC

When the Ninth Doctor debuted in ‘Rose’ it seemed to be shortly after a regeneration. We assumed that he was the successor to the Eighth Doctor. However when the onion of the Time War was peeled a lot of debate was raised as to whether the romantic Eighth Doctor could really have participated in such a devastating conflict. This episode provided clarity. A brilliantly intelligent move from Steven Moffat it also made the Eighth Doctor’s adventures on Big Finish audios canon.

In another nod for the fans we also saw a return to the planet Karn seen in ‘The Brain of Morbius’ in 1976. Paul McGann’s Doctor is tragically heroic and funny before ultimately admits defeat acknowledging that he must take his place in the battle. McGann is supreme and triggered calls for more Eighth Doctor on our television screens. Maybe one day. If we do it will once again be a joyous moment of surprise and excitement.


Paul McGann – Eighth Doctor
John Hurt – War Doctor
Emma Campbell-Jones – Cass
Clare Higgins – Ohila


Directed – John Hayes
Written – Steven Moffat
Produced – Denise Paul

Also First Aired On This Day…

  • Planet of Giants: Crisis
  • Sleep No More


  1. When asked, THIS was THE moment of the whole Docto Who series.
    Nothing can beat it.
    One minor thing: we did not clearly get to see the regeneration into the war doctor.


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