The idea for "The Night of the Doctor" came following the creation of the previous unknown incarnation of the Doctor played by John Hurt in "The Name of the Doctor". Steven Moffat decided that he wanted to see how this Doctor came into being, with the best story idea being a direct regeneration from the Eighth Doctor, which would have added benefit of showing the end of the Eighth Doctor, which Moffat always wanted to see. Having contacted Paul McGann, who indicated his willingness to participate, Moffat then constructed the mini-episode to serve as an additional surprise for the fans, as well as serving as an introductory piece to "The Day of the Doctor". See more »
[Cass's spaceship is about to crash into an asteroid]
A clear statement of your symptoms will help us provide the medical practitioner appropriate to your individual needs.
I'm trying to send a distress signal! Stop talking about doctors!
[suddenly appearing behind Cass]
I'm a doctor... But probably not the one you're expecting.
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In 1989 the BBC canceled the old Doctor Who show. In 1996, Fox TV broadcast a two-hour one-shot, intended as a pilot for a revival, starring Paul McGann as the Ninth Doctor. Alas, it didn't take and it wasn't until 2005 that the show was successfully revived.
In the meantime, Paul McGann was the official current Doctor: in magazines, comics, spin-off novels and audio releases from Big Finish Productions, Paul McGann was the Doctor. Fans, of course, argued the point, but that's what fans do. However, the current BBC has clearly accepted McGann's appearance as canonical in various ways, starting with 2007's "Human Nature".
It's great to see Paul McGann appear in this prologue to next Saturday's Fiftieth Anniversary Special. It's fun for me, as a fan of the new and classic shows, to see McGann finally get a chance to officially reprise the role and to mention some of the companions that accompanied him in those years of exile. It feels like vindication.
However, there is so much crammed into its six minutes -- McGann, Karn, the Last Great Time War, the companions and more -- that I had to watch it twice to catch all the references. To a fan of the modern show, unfamiliar with McGann, it will be utterly incomprehensible.
Still, as an act of personal sentiment, I'm glad it was done. It's also a nice teaser; did McGann film this as part of a super-secret appearance in the 50th Anniversary Show? I'll have to wait a week to find out.
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