The Day of the Doctor – John Hurt Version

The Day of The Doctor was, given the lack of involvement of a certain Miserable Northern Git, as good a tribute to fifty years of Who as any fan could reasonably expect. That said, there were a few minor flaws, such as cutting the Hurt to Eccles regeneration short and not using the An Adventure in Space And Time console for the Hurt Doctor, but those are really pretty minor quibbles in what was an excellent episode and a fitting tribute to 50 years with plenty of fan pleasing moments.

It’s clear that the Hurt Doctor is intended to be seen as a mid-point between the Classic Series and the New, which is why he wears a leather jacket like Eccles and has the same basic console room design as the 2005 “coral” version but augmented by “the round things”. And it’s a nice touch to have him look like his younger, 1979 BBC Crime And Punishment self post-regeneration instead of being John Hurt in 2013 from the off.

The Night of the Doctor, which finally gave us the McGann regeneration we never got to see was always going to be part of the fan edit, so I could tell the “whole story” as it were of The War Doctor.

doctor who complete history 10John Hurt steals every scene he is in and effortlessly acts Matt and David off the screen, which is hardly surprising given his talent and experience. In much the same way that certain fans use Paul McGann’s appearances in other TV shows, retelling them as unseen adventures of the Eighth Doctor, so too we can expect Hurt’s movies to get commandeered as the experiences of The War Doctor. And there’s a lot of them to choose from. If you take the BBC’s 1979 production of Crime and Punishment as your starting point for Dr Hurt, retelling John Hurt movies [with the exception of Alien, for obvious reasons!] as War Doctor stories gives you nearly thirty five years worth of stuff to choose from between 1979 and 2013. Personally, I love the idea of Doctor Who: Time Warrior but I just don’t have the time to do it myself so I will leave that particular bit of fan creativity to others.

This is one of those fan edits that got away from me a bit when I first tackled it and I always intended to revisit it one day in order to try and nail the regeneration. The first version started with the Eighth Doctor crashing on Karn. One, it was a nice dramatic opening and two, it got round the problem of not being able to edit out the credits immediately after McGann’s initial reveal.

But two years on I’d stumbled onto the fact that you could simply zoom into the image to lose the credits at the bottom of the screen without much noticeable loss of quality. And so in this mk3 version, we get the full McGann as I felt, on reflection, that not giving him all the screen time I could was a bit mean since there’s so little of it!

In some ways, Night is a bit like the TV Movie – once the initial excitement has died down and you look at it again you think, “hold on…?” For instance, if Eight was that determined to save that ungrateful bitch Cass, why didn’t he simply pop into the Tardis and materialise it around her? Skipping that bit altogether and starting with the crash left you wondering what on earth could have happened that he couldn’t escape from that crashing spaceship in time. But for this version I felt we might as well leave it in, an example of how your editing tastes can change over time.

doctor who 50 dwm 2013After the Young Doctor No More’s first appearance in a handy reflective surface, we cross faded to Day itself and the footage of the Dalek attack on Arcadia. But for this version we went into the opening credits, which are all new and based on the a loop of the clean element of the sequence used in Night but with some augmentation, such as Hurt’s face and Big Finish’s War Doctor version of the theme playing over it. I was trying to evoke the feeling of what a genuine Hurt title sequence might have looked like and I’m quite pleased with it.

Once we exit the credits we go straight into a cut down version of The Last Day attack on Arcadia. So much for all the Time Lords living inside the Capitol, clearly things have changed a lot since The Invasion of Time. And it’s nice to see children on Gallifrey at last. So much for all that New Adventures bollocks about Pythia and Looms, and how appropriate that the thing that stops the Doctor in the end is the thought of all the children that will die if he uses The Moment.

I always thought that maybe “the moment” was a thing instead of just a saying, I remember thinking that when that Time Lord Granny who got done in by The Gauntlet of Rassilon said “The Doctor still possesses the moment, and he will use it to destroy… ” in The End of Time Part Two so it was nice to find out I got that one right. The really interesting thing about that little exchange is that Granny Time Lord mentioning “the moment” locates that scene after the one in Day of the Doctor where Ken Bones discovers The Moment is missing.

So the events of The End of Time are taking place at round about the same time as the events of The Day of The Doctor! I felt it was important to acknowledge that somewhere in the edit, but first we had to get Captain Grumpy into his barn so the story could get started properly. And thinking about that led me to the decision to try and keep the focus on the Hurt Doctor instead of the other two. It’s his story after all, and I wondered if I could come up with three different edits of the story, one for each of the Doctors. I’d done that before with The Five Doctors and I was excited at the prospect of seeing if I could do the same thing again here.

But that was something that eluded me back when I first tackled the story, though it was always the plan. I made a start on the David Tennant version but life got in the way as it often does and I’d completed no more than the opening and closing of the story before moving on to other things. But I’m pleased to say that I’ve finally managed to do the treble and have come up with three different edits of the same story, which I think is a Whoflix first! Since the John Hurt version is the one I felt most people would want to see I’ve uploaded this version first, with the Tennant and Smith versions to follow soon…

This was the first New Series edit that I attempted using the individual audio tracks from the 5.1 mix, up until this edit I’d simply used the full mix audio for New Series edits. Having discovered how to access the individual mix tracks, that finally made edits of everything since 2005 a heck of a lot easier.

day doctor fact fiction dwm500But cutting back the Dalek attack on Arcadia wasn’t easy at all and it took a lot of work to keep the audio matching the pictures. But with some additional sound effects to cover the joins and the music cue “Words Win Wars” [which I thought was rather appropriate] that was the hard bit out of the way. Then it was on to John H and Billie P in the barn and a simple case of cutting out all the other Doctor’s scenes so Captain Grumpy could join Sandshoes and Chinny as quickly as possible.

Once the three Doctors are together it’s pretty much as it was on the telly but with a few cuts here and there just to tighten things up and keep the thing moving. The temptation is just to leave everything in but then that wouldn’t make it a fan edit, would it? So there are a few differences to the TX version, aside from including Tim Dalton’s Rassilon from The End of Time just to help tie the two stories together that bit more clearly.

The scene in the barn where Ten and Eleven turn up gets the main change to the edit, with it being much less clear in this version that Eleven is even thinking about pressing the big red button. It always seemed a bit strange to me that one minute he’s prepared to help Hurt blow up everyone, including 2.47 billion children, and themselves [!] but the next he’s suddenly had an idea about what they could do instead. Never really worked for me.

Something else that I was never entirely happy with was Capaldi’s surprise appearance, or at least his Attack Eyebrows. Yes, I was as delighted as you were at his brief cameo but it begs the question, where were all the Doctors after Capaldi? If Twelvy – a future incarnation of Smiffy – got the message to save Gallifrey, or simply decided to join in for reasons of his own, how come no other future Doctor did, hmm? So in this version, it’s just all twelve of him.

Of course, you couldn’t do a Fan Edit of this story without having a bash at doing something with the Hurt to Eccles regeneration that they cut short in the TX version. Over on YouTube there was a fab video by 1981Timelord which basically carried on where the Beeb left off and completed the regeneration sequence via a nifty crossfade to the same publicity pic of Eccles the Beeb used .

I would never use someone else’s work in one of my edits on principle and, despite my best efforts, I was unable to replicate what 1981Timelord had done so instead I came up with what I thought was the only realistic option, which was to cut away as per the original and then cut back to a composite screengrab of Eccles’ head on Hurt’s body. As an alternate take I thought it worked but it always annoyed me that I was never able to come up with an alternate regeneration of my own…

By the time we got to April 2015, and the mk 2 version, I’d finally managed to work out how I could put together a regeneration sequence of my own, using a screengrab of Hurt from earlier in the sequence and a different publicity pic of Eccles. Moving from one to the other required nothing more complicated than a simple morph, with a glow effect bunged on top and a bit of flame at a low opacity to give it some movement.

I cut the TX regeneration shot altogether and recut the remainder of the sequence so that instead we saw the regen start in the long shot, cut to a reverse shot of Hurt’s Tardis in the gold vortex, cut back to my new regen morph, cut to Eccles’ Tardis in the blue vortex and finally back to my original composite before fading to black. The idea was that the Tardis in the vortex moves from the Hurt timestream to the Eccles one as we end with a caption for Rose, which is the next story chronologically after this one.

Two years on, I’d finally found the publicity photo that had been used in the sequence and worked out how to match it up with the final frame of the sequence. That gave me two still images, one of Hurt with Eccles eyes and Eccles himself. The problem with simply going from the footage to the stills was that the camera isn’t still on the footage and when you go from one to the other the sudden lack of movement pulls you out of the scene.

Not only that, Hurt’s mouth is open in the footage but Eccles’ is closed in the photo. In order to get a bit more smoothly from one to the other I made up a third image with Eccles in a half-smile-half-grimace, cribbed from The Long Game. So the image order was Hurt final frame, Eccles grimace-smile, Eccles publicity pic.

There was a time when I would have set up a morph from one to the other but frankly I couldn’t be arsed and instead settled for laying a flamethrower effect I found on the net over the sequence to help mask it. I then created a video clip where we went from one image to the other as rapdily as possible with the flame effect overlaid.

I then took that clip and cloned it with a boost to the contrast, so that I could fade from one to the other and get a flare effect to help mask the joins. The illusion was aided by adding in the same sound effect that accompanies Dr Hurt appearing from the swirly thing in the sky as he meets Smiffy and Tennant.

I was pleased and relieved to finally nail that damn regeneration and after that, doing the Ten and Eleven versions of the story was a doddle!

So now, if you want to, you can download the three-part Fan Edit version of the TV Movie and then watch that before you watch this so that you can follow the Doctor’s journey all the way from San Francisco to the Powell Estate…

download day doctor

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5 thoughts on “The Day of the Doctor – John Hurt Version

  1. Just finished watching it. A very enjoyable take on the episode. I’ve toyed with the idea of doing a fan edit from the ‘war’ doctor’s perspective, as if you were watching the series chronologically and by the end gallifrey fell, then you went on to the shell shocked doctor in ‘Rose’ and it wasn’t until you watch the Matt Smith era version that you found out otherwise.

    1. Never thought of doing that for a second. I think it might be too abrupt to go from Hurt in the barn doing his “light the flame” bit to Gallifrey blowing up to his regeneration. Nothing to stop you trying it though, maybe you could make it work.

      1. The way I picture the ending – It would be a case of doing a quick cut montage with a white out at the end. Then cut to the regeneration as is, cut to an exterior view of the TARDIS flying through the vortex on fire with an Eccleston voice over along the lines of before I forget Rose Tyler! And then a shot of the 2005 TARDIS flying/landing in London.

      2. Nice idea but I still think an ending like that would be really abrupt. What footage would you use? Where would it come from? How would you cover the joins? Where would you get the voiceover from? I can’t recall Eccles saying a line like that so you’d probably have to make it up from different audio clips, and that has potential problems with background noise. And then there’s the fact that RTD says quite some time has passed before Eccles sorts out the Autons at Henrik’s…

        It could work, theoretically, but in practice I think an ending like that would be harder to achieve. Aesthetically, I prefer that there’s yet another of those long narrative gaps in the Doctor’s history that we know nothing about before we meet him again. Best thing to do is to actually have a bash at putting it together and seeing if you can make it work. So long as you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters.

        Fan editing isn’t about my version being “better” than yours, it’s all about coming up with the version you want to see so you can enjoy watching the story all over again. And if your version of how TDotD ends for Dr Hurt is different to mine, there’s nothing wrong with that.

      3. You are of course right that line was never spoken by Christopher, so it would probably be a nightmare to put together! It is just my dream ending and I’m sure I can come up with something similar if I try hard enough.

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