Shiny Shelf

The Next Doctor?

By Mark Clapham on 15 November 2008

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

This evening the first two minutes of the ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special, ‘The Next Doctor’ were shown on BBC1 as part of the BBC’s worthy-but-interminable ‘Children In Need’ charity event. If you didn’t endure the annual ritual of hacking through a thousand tap-dancing newsreaders to get to the nugget of ‘Who’ goodness, then the clip is online at the BBC’s ‘Children in Need’ site. It’s a fun scene, apparently the entire pre-title sequence, and well worth a look.

It’s yet another sign of the dominance of ‘Who’ that such a big deal could be made of a two-minute clip, half of which is David Tennant wandering around a Victorian Christmas scene. Of course, a frisson is added by the recent announcement of Tennant’s departure, and that David Morrisey is playing the titular ‘Next Doctor’ in the special.

On the basis of this scene, I’d be very surprised if Morrisey is actually taking on the role full-time ‘ this ‘Doctor’ seems more of an arch play on the idea of an archetypal Doctor Who, all frock coat, clipped tones and dashing heroism. My suspicion is that the point of the character is to contrast with Tennant, showing ‘our’ Doctor initially (and no doubt comedically) in the shadow of this more decisive, less troubled newcomer, then finally coming good with nuance where more uncomplicated heroism fails.

Of course, this doesn’t mean David Morrisey couldn’t play the actual 11th Doctor as well as this brash pretender anyway ‘ Freema Agyeman and Eve Myles can play alternate roles in the franchise with post-hoc explanations, an in-story reason can be found to justify an actor of Morrisey’s calibre playing two variations on the same character ‘ so it certainly won’t end the speculation. With the Christmas special to promote, and some time before season five goes into production, I’d be surprised if the BBC made any announcement of the actual eleventh Doctor before the New Year.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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