John Hurt is keeping fans on their toes with his belated introduction as 'The Doctor'
Fans need not fear that this means the end of Matt Smith as the 11th Time Lord, because the floppy-haired one is confirmed to continue into the next series.
So, while we'll have to wait until 23 November for the truth about where Hurt's Doctor sits on the timeline between the first - William Hartnell - and the eleventh, Matt Smith, theories are already beginning to bubble. Here's a sample... which one of these makes the most sense to you?
"The consensus within the Doctor Who community is that he is the regeneration between the Eight and the Ninth Doctor based around a few facts:
- The Doctor references that he does some terrible things.
- He forgoes the name of The Doctor.
- He is dressed in a way that resembles both the 8th and 9th Doctors clothing.
- The 11th Doctor consoles him in a way that makes it seem like he is familiar with the things that this Doctor has done"
"Is he The Valeyard?
This seems a logical place to start. At the end of Trial Of A Time Lord, the sixth Doctor story, the Valeyard - who has been prosecuting the Doctor - is hinted to be a future regeneration of him. There's consistently been a degree of doubt about this, but if, for the sake of argument, we take it as straight, then it could explain why John Hurt is The Doctor. It's just where in the Doctor's line he'd actually fit in. The Valeyard, according to The Master, "is an amalgamation of the darker side of the Doctor's nature". Given that John Hurt's Doctor tells us that "what I did, I did without choice", it certainly hints that might fit. The Valeyard is, furthermore, said to be the penultimate Doctor. Again, lots of this is up for debate."
"Hurt has stated that he plays "part of the Doctor" in a "kind of trinity," which includes David Tennant... If Hurt fills in the gap between Paul McGann and Christopher Eccleston (as some have suspected), that makes Tennant No. 11 and Matt Smith No. 12. So the "fall of the Eleventh" could involve a great sacrifice by Tennant, allowing our current Doctor to escape unscathed."
"John Hurt is Doctor Number Zero- a pre-Hartnell version? Such a twist would still have the effect of 'bumping' each Doc up a position, but there'd also be the opportunity to reveal some juicy secrets about the Doctor's past...
Maybe the Doctor didn't flee Gallifrey simply to explore the universe? Perhaps it was the terrible crime that John Hurt's character committed that encouraged him to take on the mantle of the Doctor and head out to right the galaxy's wrongs?"
But then Digital Spy gives equal credence to the idea of Hurt as Doctor Number Nine, The Valeyard or even a Future Doctor, so they're definitely keeping their options open... Read more here
But Kasterborous dispenses with the idea of a future Doctor... "It's likely that Hurt doesn't play a future Doctor as the Eleventh clearly recognises him and is judgmental of his actions." Instead they go with the 'incarnation between incarnations' theory...
"It's been established that Matt Smith is, indeed, the Eleventh Doctor, notably in The Lodger (2010) and again in The Name of the Doctor. Thankfully, the inclusion of John Hurt seemingly need not interfere with our happy perceptions that Eccleston is the Ninth Doctor, Tennant is the Tenth and Smith is the Eleventh. Hopefully. (We'll find out soon enough.)
He is not the Doctor. He's just one of his bodies. And we've established that bodies are boring - the Doctor's had loads of them!"
So it's likely that Hurt (who recently stated that he plays "part of the Doctor," forming a "sort of trinity" with Smith and David Tennant in the 50th anniversary special) will be an incarnation between incarnations.
Finally, DoctorWhoTV, which sounds it has a certain amount of authority in these matters, makes the valid point that the actual identity of John Hurt's Who is not as important as...
...What did he do to go against the name of the Doctor and what did he do to make the last three incarnations to forget him. Whatever the case, Moffat's statement of the secret being a game changer for Who wasn't an underestimation in the slightest. This is going to change Who forever!
So there you have it - anything to convince you thus far? Or have you got something different up your sleeve? And the good news - we only have to wait until 23 November to find out. Mark that date in time...