Inspired by a series of Facebook posts that I saw, we are going to run through an alphabetical series of Doctor Who-related themes. Today we are kicking this off with the letter A…
(Daily Doctor Who #271)
The idea is to just pick a favorite. Alternate Doctors refers to any Doctor other than the “main 13”. So Jo Martin’s “Ruth Doctor” is eligible, but Richard Hurndall as the First Doctor is not (since it’s supposed to be one the “main 13” even if it’s a different actor).
So this would include Doctors portrayed by the likes of Peter Cushing, Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant (twice!), Joanna Lumley, and or Trevor Martin. You could even potentially include people like Michael Jayston (the Valeyard) or Evan McCabe (Brendan) or David Warner (an “Unbound” Doctor from Big Finish.)
But for my money, there’s only one “Alternate Doctor” who is a serious contender for the prize of being the best…
The War Doctor – John Hurt
A new, unheard of incarnation of the Doctor before it became a cliche, the revelation of the War Doctor’s existence was a huge shock when it happened back in 2013. But quickly the potential canon-shattering twist was warmly embraced and accepted by fans at large thanks to the quality of the performance and the strength of the storytelling in The Day of the Doctor, the 50th anniversary special that the new Doctor had been introduced for (although, not introduced in).
John Hurt was excellent in the role, capturing the sense of a Doctor who had been born to be a Warrior, but was exhausted by the war itself. He still had the twinkle that we associate with the Doctor, but buried under mountains of weariness. It is a testament to the actor’s skill and the character’s strength that he could walk into the show in its 50th year and somehow give the impression that he had always belonged.
John Hurt passed away in 2017, but not before he recorded four series of War Doctor audios for Big Finish. I’ve heard the first chapter of the first series, and it was pretty good. I’m looking forward to hearing more some day.
And that’s my pick for favorite Alternate Doctor. What’s yours?