Just a few days shy of "The Day of the Doctor" broadcast, "Doctor Who" surprises fans with a mini webisode that reveals the origin of John Hurt's character, which will be featured in the 50th Anniversary special. Titled "The Night of the Doctor", the prequel webisode has Paul McGann reprising his role as the Eighth Doctor.
It sees the Doctor on board a spaceship which is about to crash down. Cass, the pilot, refuses to enter the Doctor's TARDIS and when they land on the planet Karn, the Doctor is alive, but Cass doesn't survive.
On Karn, the Doctor meets the Sisterhood of Karn who urges him to join the Time War and convinces him that they can help direct his next regeneration. The Doctor eventually chooses to be a warrior, who turns out to be the young Hurt. "Doctor no more," he says at the end of the mini episode.
"The Night of the Doctor" answers fans' question of how McGann's Doctor died. While it's revealed that Hurt's character is a previously secret Doctor between the Eighth and Ninth, showrunner Steven Moffat refuses to change the numbering of the Doctors.
"I've been really, really quite careful about the numbering of the Doctors. He's very specific, the John Hurt Doctor, that he doesn't take the name of the Doctor," he explains. "He doesn't call himself that. He's the same Time Lord, the same being as the Doctors either side of him, but he's the one who says, 'I'm not the Doctor.' So the Eleventh Doctor is still the Eleventh Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is still the Tenth."
"Doctor Who" 50th anniversary special will air simultaneously in countries around the world on November 23. David Tennant returns as the Tenth Doctor and Billie Piper reprises her role as the tenth Doctor's companion Rose Tyler, joining the current Doctor, Matt Smith.